The plague of 1630

In 1627 the death of Vincenzo II Gonzaga, the Duke of Mantua, without any direct heirs to the duchy, unleashed a dispute over his succession. This culminated in 1630 with a siege by the Empire, which ultimately conquered and raided Mantua. Along with the German troops, however, also came the bubonic plague, which in one year reduced the population of San Zeno di Montagna from 339 to just 111. Many of the wealthy families who had moved to the Scaligeri’s court in Verona returned to their countryside properties to escape the plague. The Carlotti marquis moved into a house that was specifically built for the occasion in the pastures of Ortigara, where they indeed managed to survive the epidemic. To give thanks to God, they built the small Madonna della Neve church. The Montagna family, however, were not so lucky. On July 18th, 1630, having already had his wife, both daughters, and son-in-law Giacomo Toblini die of the plague, Zeno II Montagna, who was already gravely ill himself, dictated his will to his lawyer from the window of his court – today’s Ca’ Montagna – so as to avoid spreading the disease.