Most people didn't have leather soles back then. Regular shoes were either made of wood or felt, at least from the 17th to the 19th century. Before that, there's not enough proof to say for sure.
Besides, if you actually use leather soles (or wood), they do not stay smooth for long. Once they have scratches all over them, they have grip comparable with the hard rubber on gasoline-proof work boots.
Felt on the other hand has good grip from the beginning.
Only downside (other than price) compared to rubber is that leather and felt wear out faster, while wood makes noise on stone.
As for nailing leather soles, that is not for grip. it decreases grip on rock and ice, does nothing on grass or wood and only improves it on bare, compacted soil. The reason for nailng is that it massively improves the sole's lifespan.
t. guy who regularly wore wood and leather soles for years for larping and around the house