First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Mantua is a celebrated city in the Gaul of the Cenomani, and (as some say) it was named after Manta, the daughter of Teiresias (Thiresie) the prophet, and was built after the destruction of Thebes by Alexander at that time. There are some who say that Teiresias lived in the time of Theseus, and became his servant. After the death of her father in Italy she came with many people, and with the help of the Greeks she built this city of Mantua. As Ocnus (Oenus) was born to Tiberinus, the Tuscan (Etruscan) king, in the meantime, and the Tuscans and Venetians gathered together in this same city, Ocnus surrounded the city with a wall, changed its form, and named the city Mantua after his mother, and so it is called in the 10th book of Virgil's Aeneid. Yet it is known that this very ancient city was built by the Etruscans, and it was, T. Livy the Paduan relates, one of the twelve colonies sent beyond the Apennines by that people. The famous poet Virgil, a citizen of that town, has made it especially well known to the world. And he told more fully his city's origin: Mantua, wealthy city; but no single race do all its citizens share. This (city) lies by the mountains that separate Gaul and Germany from Italy, and not far from Lake Benacus (Lake Guardia) out of which the Mincius flows to Mantua, and there itself became a sea. It runs about the city and at a short distance flows into the river Padus (Po). In earlier times Mantua suffered the greatest disasters besides those which are very well known in the Vergilian verse: Mantua, alas, too close to wretched Cremona! It was ravaged and plundered by Attila the Hun, by the Goths, the Lombards and the Bavarian kings at various times, and its walls breached and the city left unprotected. And for the rest the Hungarians (Ungari) raised the city to the ground. For this reason also the place where they were then, in memory of the deed, now is called Hungary (Ungaria). Mathilda, the noble countess, at one time possessed the city and wonderfully enlarged it. Pope Nicolas II held a council there. Many rulers possessed this city after Mathilda. There also once upon a time ruled the highly renowned houses of Rippa and Passerini. Finally, after various difficulties, the house of Gonzaga, having driven out the Passerini, possessed the city with great honor, and have had it up to this time. Through the industry and care of this house, and those who ruled there before it, the city was beautified by the erection of many bridges over the waters, and with tall churches, royal palaces and beautifully adorned private residences. And to this day Mantua is a large city, possessed of rich estates, productive of the necessities of life, and mightily esteemed. In the time of Charles the Great (Karoli Magni) there appeared at Mantua the miraculous blood of Christ, which Pope Leo II went there to see, and from there he journeyed to the same Charles in Germany. Charles the Bald, son of Charles the Great, died at Mantua from poison given him by a Hebrew physician, who was bribed. There also rests Anselm (Anshelmus) the Lucensian bishop, a holy man, well informed in folkways; also the blessed John the Good was for a time a citizen there and performed miracles. Albertinus, who wrote a book on the holy body of Christ, was a native of this city; also Matthew, a very famous physician, who wrote an extraordinary book on medicine for the king of Sicily.

Mantua, the Italian Mantova, is a fortified city of Lombardy, in Italy, twenty-five miles southwest of Verona. It is 88 feet above the level of the Adriatic on the almost insular site among swampy lagoons of the Mincio (formerly Mincius). Anciently Mantua was a town in Gallia Transpandana, and not a place of great importance. The account of its origin and the derivation of its name, as given in the Chronicle, are somewhat vague and confusing. In fact, the name may derive from the Etruscan god Manto, a god of the underworld.

Mantua owes some of its renown to the fact that Virgil (cf. especially Aeneid 10.201-3), who was born at the neighboring village of Andes, regarded Mantua as his birthplace.

Manto, whom the chronicler calls Manta, and describes as the daughter of "Teiresias the prophet," was according to tradition a daughter of Teiresias, a Theban soothsayer, the most renowned of antiquity; for in the mythical history of Greece there is scarcely any event, due to his long life, with which he is not connected in some way. During the war of the Epigoni, Teiresias fled with the Thebans; but according to others, he was carried to Delphi as a captive. It is also stated that on his flight he drank from the well of Tilphossa and died. His daughter Manto was sent by the victorious Argives to Delphi, as a present to Apollo. Manto herself was a renowned prophetess, first of the Ismenian Apollo at Thebes, where monuments of her existed, and subsequently of the Delphian and Clarian Apollo. Being a prophetess of Apollo, she is also called Daphne, that is, the laurel virgin.

Ocnus, to whom Virgil refers, was the son of Tiberinus (or Tiberis) and Manto, and is the reputed founder of the town of Mantua, which he named after his mother. William Smith, in his biographical dictionary, speaks of two other women of the same name—one the daughter of the soothsayer Polyeidus, and the other a daughter of Heracles, "the personage from whom the town of Mantua received its name."

Mantua was not a place of importance until the Middle Ages. In the conflicts of the Hohenstaufen period the town embraced the cause of the Guelphs. In 1328 the citizens elected Luigi, Lord of Gonzaga, as ‘Capitano del Popolo,' and to his dynasty the town owed its prosperity. The Gonzagas fought successfully against Milan and Venice, and extended their territory, while they were liberal patrons of art and science. In 1627, when Charles de Nevers, a member of a French collateral line, ascended the throne, the Mantuan war of succession broke out, the Emperor Ferdinand III declared the fief forfeited. In 1630 Mantua was stormed and sacked by the Austrians. Though later compelled to surrender the rest of Lombardy to the French, the Austrians retained Mantua. In 1866 they were obliged to ceded it to Italy.

Much of this passage on Mantua is taken from Biondo Flavio's Italia Illustrata (‘Italy Illuminated') 360H-361B. Flavio's text, a breakthrough work in historical topography, was completed in 1453.