Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Petrucci, Ludovico

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PETRUCCI, LUDOVICO (fl. 1619), poet and soldier of fortune, born at Siena, was son of Aridante Petrucci, alias Petruccioli, ‘nobile’ of the territory of Peligliano, Tuscany. The father served under Orsino, count of Peligliano, in the Venetian service against the Turks, distinguished himself in the capture of Castel Nuovo, and died of a wound eight days after his return. Ludovico was educated in Tuscany, but subsequently became a soldier of fortune. Having renounced catholicism, he was imprisoned by the inquisition at Padua, remaining in prison four years (see in his Farrago his poems ‘sopra la crudeltà del Inquisitor di Padova’).

He then entered the service of Venice, describing himself as at the time ‘povero mendico,’ and obtained in 1603 the grade of serving-major. Subsequently he transferred himself to the imperial army, and served in the Hungarian wars in the regiments, first of Count Sulma, and then of Ferdinand de Kolonitsch. In 1607 he became a captain in the Hungarian army. He subsequently entered the service of the Prince of Brandenburg and Neuburg, and met some Englishmen at Düsseldorf. According to his own statement in his ‘Apologia,’ he served nine years ‘in bello Hungarico;’ but this can only apply to the whole of his stay in Germany.

Meeting with no success in his military career, he removed to England in 1610, and, visiting Oxford on the recommendation of the Earl of Pembroke, ‘entered into the public library in the beginning of the year following.’ He became a commoner of St. Edmund Hall, and later of Balliol. In spite of certificates which he obtained to the contrary, he was suspected in the university of being a spy and popishly affected. Accordingly, he was forced, or at least desired, to depart, ‘such was the jealousy of the puritan party in the university.’ Wood describes him as ‘phantasticall’ and unsettled in mind. In his ‘Apologia’ he prints several certificates of his conformity to the church of England during his stay there. An epistle ‘Candido Lettore,’ in his ‘Apologia,’ is dated from the Fleet, 10 July 1619, where he was in prison. Granger mentions a portrait.

Petrucci wrote: 1. ‘Raccolta d'alcune rime del cavaliere Ludovico Petrucci, nobile Toscano, in più luoghi e tempi composte e a diversi prencipi dedicate; con la silva delle sue persecutioni,’ Oxford, 1613; in Italian and Latin; dedicated in prose to King James, and in verse to all the royal family. The poems themselves consist of adulatory or other addresses to various notabilities, including Bacon and Archbishop Abbot, with occasional insertions of prose letters sent to him, and of certificates of character. The work concludes with a long and critical enumeration of his patrons, including many Oxford men and English politicians. 2. ‘Apologia equitis Ludovici Petrucci contra calumniatores suos una cum responsione ad libellum à Jesuitis contra serenissimum Leonardum Donatum ducem Venetum promulgatum,’ appeared at London in 1619, with portrait by Thomas Pothecary (Italian and Latin); the work is imperfect, and does not include the reply to the jesuits mentioned in the title. It is dedicated to King James, with verse addresses to his various English patrons. Then follows a farrago of verses, narrative, certificates, addresses, &c., as in the ‘Raccolta.’ His main contention is that the charges against him resulted from a plot of the jesuits. Certain ‘Rime al re’ by Petrucci are among the Royal MSS. 14a, vii.

[The only authority is Petrucci's scattered and incoherent statements and certificates in his works, from which Wood (Athenæ, ii. 293) has compiled a notice. Cf. Foster's Alumni; Stationers' Register (under date 27 Nov. 1587), and Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. xii. 22, for the Description of Scotland set forth by Petrucci.]

W. A. S.