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Descending from an ancient family of Orvieto related to Pope Innocent X, he was grand-nephew of cardinal Carlo Gualterio and uncle of cardinal Luigi Gualterio. Nominated Cardinal Protector of Scotland, as of 1706, and England, as of 1717, he was one of the closest advisers to the Stuart Pretender, James Stuart, the would-be James III of England, who conferred upon his brother Giovanni Battista the Jacobite title of Earl of Dundee.
Born at Fermo, whose archdiocese was governed by his grand-uncle Carlo, he was the eldest of seventeen children of Stanislao Gualterio, gonfaloniere of Orvieto, and Anna Maria Cioli, noble of Todi. He received doctorates at the University of Fermo in philosophy, theology, and utroque iure, both canon and civil law. Beginning in 1685, when he was made Governor of San Severino, he served in various governorates of the Papal States until he was sent as Vice-legate to Avignon (1696-1700), where he carried himself so well he was made papal nuncio to the court of Louis XIV of France, April 1700, in preparation for which he was made titular archbishop of Atena at the end of March. Another member of his family, Sebastiano Gualterio, had already served as nuncio to France in 1554. He was made Commander of the Order of the Saint Esprit. He was recalled to Rome to be created cardinal in the consistory of 17 May 1706 and sent as legate to Romagna, 25 June. During his nunciature he established ties with prominent members of the European nobility and, in particular, with the Duc of Saint-Simon, who often mentions him in the Memoirs. In recognition of the esteem he gained from Louis XIV, he was nominated abbot commendatario of Saint-Remy, Rheims (1710), and of Saint-Victor, Paris (1713 or 1714).
In 1709 he was transferred to the see of Todi, with the personal title of archbishop, and resigned the see in favour of his brother, Ludovico Anselmo Gualterio, 5 December 1714. He participated in the Papal conclave, 1721, which elected Pope Innocent XIII and in the conclave of 1724, which elected Pope Benedict XIII.
Founder of a monumental library, now part of the Accademia dei Lincei, and of a vast collection of art, which after his death was partly acquired by Hans Sloane and is now at the British Museum, he was elected honorary member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres (1715).
- ↑ Edward T. Corp. The Stuart Court in Rome: the legacy of exile, 2003: 72, passim; Corp, The Jacobites at Urbino: An Exiled Court in Transition, 2009: 55 et passim.
- ↑ Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts Calendar of the Stuart papers belonging to His Majesty the king, 1902: 204, 25 January 1706. In 1723 Giovanni Battista Gualterio was created Marquis of Corgnolo, near Orvieto, by Pope Innocent XIII. Between 1713 and 1720 he also retained the title of Duke of Cumia (created by Philip V of Spain)
- ↑ Biographical information from Salvador Miranda, "Cardinals of the Holy Roman church".