Note: The article has been translated from the Italian language with software
Reading some passages in the 1910 ” Cronaca della Valle Bregaglia ” written by Gaudenzio Giovanoli, which reports multiple facts from the past history of the valley where I grew up, that is the Bregaglia, I came across a passage where the arrival of the plague in the small Bregagliotto village of Bondo.
It was the year 1629, and exactly June 2, 1629. The seventh pass is crossed by the troops of Count Merode. For those unfamiliar with this name it is necessary to make the historical picture of the war situation of the time.
We are in the middle of the Thirty Years War , central Europe is torn apart by one of the longest conflicts in history. The Merode family has noble Belgian origins.
John II of Merode after serving the Spanish Empire, he soon passed into the service of the Holy Roman Empire.
In 1627 he conquered Fehmarn , an island located in the Baltic Sea in present-day Germany. Here we are in 1629 when John II of Merode allows his troops to cross the Alps and then participate in the war of succession of Mantua and Monferrato . This fact is mentioned in the chronicles of Bregaglia, noting the passage of the Seventh Pass of the troops of Merode.
The arrival of the plague in Bondo in that distant June of 1629
On the same day, that is June 2, 1629, the plague arrives in Bondo in Bregaglia , which according to the chronicles is described in a particularly terrible way, literally decimating the population of Bondo.
It is mentioned that a certain Rodolfo Baltresca who had settled in Venice, learned of the terrible plague epidemic in his native village of Bondo, was preparing to return to Val Bregaglia.
Upon his arrival Baltresca, he finds his birthplace in “via al Mulin”, completely closed. His entire family had been exterminated by the ongoing plague.
The chronicle mentions the singular detail that the inhabitants create in Promontogno (adjacent to the village of Bondo) a sort of hospital in a stable. Stable which is located behind the house of Lieutenant Giovanni Scartazzin. In it, the plague sufferers are isolated with a desperate attempt to stem the spread.
The plague of 1629 – 1633 which also struck Bondo
Europe over the course of history has been depopulated and decimated several times by the plague that has repeatedly arrived with periodicity.
The aforementioned event that took place in the small village of Bondo in Bregaglia (Switzerland) is part of a large-scale plague epidemic that hit southern Switzerland and northern Italy particularly hard. I’m talking about the plague narrated by Manzoni in the novel “I promessi sposi”, which many of us have read at least once in school.
According to what is reported in Wikipedia , the toll of this plague epidemic is around the impressive number of 1,100,000 deaths. It is very difficult to establish an exact death toll. The chronicle does not indicate the exact number of plague victims in Bondo, but we can read the tragic nature of the event.
Furthermore, the particularly turbulent period for Europe must be considered. The continent is torn apart by war and therefore it is difficult to understand exactly who died of the plague. Many may have died from causes attributable to the conflict and vice versa.
The plague that comes with conflicts is not an isolated case. Another particularly harsh epidemic made its entry into Europe during a war, I am talking about the Spanish Flu which decimated the European population already tormented by the First World War .
Surely the military life in wartime and the poor hygienic conditions of the troops at the front did not help to contain these epidemics, which find fertile ground to spread. Unfortunately, in some cases where cannons, rifles and bayonets do not think about it, the plague arrives.
The one told in the previous article is a chronicle dating back to the period of the Thirty Years War referring to a plague epidemic that broke out in the village of Bondo in Bregaglia in 1629. Would you like to read some of my articles? I invite you to consult the index of my blog .
I am a private investigator , I am trained as a computer scientist and I have a passion for history and I like to bring to light little-known local news events.