1755 Lisbon earthquake
Overview
 
The 1755 Lisbon earthquake, also known as the Great Lisbon Earthquake, was a megathrust earthquake
Megathrust earthquake
Megathrust earthquakes occur at subduction zones at destructive plate boundaries , where one tectonic plate is forced under another. Due to the shallow dip of the plate boundary, which causes large sections to get stuck, these earthquakes are among the world's largest, with moment magnitudes ...

 that took place on Saturday 1 November 1755, at around 9:40 in the morning. The earthquake was followed by fire
Fire
Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products. Slower oxidative processes like rusting or digestion are not included by this definition....

s and a tsunami
Tsunami
A tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, typically an ocean or a large lake...

, which almost totally destroyed Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

 in the Kingdom of Portugal
Kingdom of Portugal
The Kingdom of Portugal was Portugal's general designation under the monarchy. The kingdom was located in the west of the Iberian Peninsula, Europe and existed from 1139 to 1910...

, and adjoining areas. Seismologists today estimate the Lisbon earthquake had a magnitude in the range 8.5–9.0 on the moment magnitude scale
Moment magnitude scale
The moment magnitude scale is used by seismologists to measure the size of earthquakes in terms of the energy released. The magnitude is based on the seismic moment of the earthquake, which is equal to the rigidity of the Earth multiplied by the average amount of slip on the fault and the size of...

, with an epicenter
Epicenter
The epicenter or epicentre is the point on the Earth's surface that is directly above the hypocenter or focus, the point where an earthquake or underground explosion originates...

 in the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 about 200 km (120 mi) west-southwest of Cape St. Vincent
Cape St. Vincent
Cape St. Vincent , next to the Sagres Point, on the so-called Costa Vicentina , is a headland in the municipality of Sagres, in the Algarve, southern Portugal.- Description :This cape is the southwesternmost point in Portugal...

.
Encyclopedia
The 1755 Lisbon earthquake, also known as the Great Lisbon Earthquake, was a megathrust earthquake
Megathrust earthquake
Megathrust earthquakes occur at subduction zones at destructive plate boundaries , where one tectonic plate is forced under another. Due to the shallow dip of the plate boundary, which causes large sections to get stuck, these earthquakes are among the world's largest, with moment magnitudes ...

 that took place on Saturday 1 November 1755, at around 9:40 in the morning. The earthquake was followed by fire
Fire
Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products. Slower oxidative processes like rusting or digestion are not included by this definition....

s and a tsunami
Tsunami
A tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, typically an ocean or a large lake...

, which almost totally destroyed Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

 in the Kingdom of Portugal
Kingdom of Portugal
The Kingdom of Portugal was Portugal's general designation under the monarchy. The kingdom was located in the west of the Iberian Peninsula, Europe and existed from 1139 to 1910...

, and adjoining areas. Seismologists today estimate the Lisbon earthquake had a magnitude in the range 8.5–9.0 on the moment magnitude scale
Moment magnitude scale
The moment magnitude scale is used by seismologists to measure the size of earthquakes in terms of the energy released. The magnitude is based on the seismic moment of the earthquake, which is equal to the rigidity of the Earth multiplied by the average amount of slip on the fault and the size of...

, with an epicenter
Epicenter
The epicenter or epicentre is the point on the Earth's surface that is directly above the hypocenter or focus, the point where an earthquake or underground explosion originates...

 in the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 about 200 km (120 mi) west-southwest of Cape St. Vincent
Cape St. Vincent
Cape St. Vincent , next to the Sagres Point, on the so-called Costa Vicentina , is a headland in the municipality of Sagres, in the Algarve, southern Portugal.- Description :This cape is the southwesternmost point in Portugal...

. Estimates place the death toll in Lisbon alone between 10,000 and 100,000 people, making it one of the deadliest earthquakes in history.

The earthquake accentuated political tensions in the Kingdom of Portugal and profoundly disrupted the country's 18th-century colonial ambitions
Portuguese Empire
The Portuguese Empire , also known as the Portuguese Overseas Empire or the Portuguese Colonial Empire , was the first global empire in history...

. The event was widely discussed and dwelt upon by European Enlightenment philosophers
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, and inspired major developments in theodicy
Theodicy
Theodicy is a theological and philosophical study which attempts to prove God's intrinsic or foundational nature of omnibenevolence , omniscience , and omnipotence . Theodicy is usually concerned with the God of the Abrahamic religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, due to the relevant...

 and in the philosophy of the sublime
Sublime (philosophy)
In aesthetics, the sublime is the quality of greatness, whether physical, moral, intellectual, metaphysical, aesthetic, spiritual or artistic...

. As the first earthquake studied scientifically for its effects over a large area, it led to the birth of modern seismology
Seismology
Seismology is the scientific study of earthquakes and the propagation of elastic waves through the Earth or through other planet-like bodies. The field also includes studies of earthquake effects, such as tsunamis as well as diverse seismic sources such as volcanic, tectonic, oceanic,...

 and earthquake engineering
Earthquake engineering
Earthquake engineering is the scientific field concerned with protecting society, the natural and the man-made environment from earthquakes by limiting the seismic risk to socio-economically acceptable levels...

.

The earthquake and the tsunami

The Azores-Gibraltar Transform Fault
Azores-Gibraltar Transform Fault
The Azores-Gibraltar Transform Fault, also called the Azores-Gibraltar fault zone , is a major geologic fault which runs eastward from the eastern end of the Terceira Rift in the Azores, extending through the Strait of Gibraltar and into the Mediterranean Sea. It forms part of the tectonic boundary...

 which marks the boundary between the African (Nubian) and the Eurasian continental plates runs westward from Gibraltar into the Atlantic. It shows a complex and active tectonic behavior, and is responsible for several important earthquakes that hit Lisbon before November 1755: eight in the 14th century, five in the 16th century (including the 1531 earthquake that destroyed 1,500 houses, and the 1597 earthquake when three streets vanished), and three in the 17th century. During the 18th century, earthquakes were reported in 1724 and 1750.

In 1755, the earthquake struck on the morning of 1 November, the Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 holiday of All Saints' Day. Contemporary reports state that the earthquake lasted 3.5–6 min, causing gigantic fissures 5 m (15 ft) wide to appear in the city centre. Survivors rushed to the open space of the docks for safety and watched as the water receded, revealing a sea floor littered by lost cargo and old shipwrecks. Approximately 40 min after the earthquake, an enormous tsunami
Tsunami
A tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, typically an ocean or a large lake...

 engulfed the harbour and downtown, rushing up the Tagus
Tagus
The Tagus is the longest river on the Iberian Peninsula. It is long, in Spain, along the border between Portugal and Spain and in Portugal, where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean at Lisbon. It drains an area of . The Tagus is highly utilized for most of its course...

 river, "so fast that several people riding on horseback ... were forced to gallop as fast as possible to the upper grounds for fear of being carried away". It was followed by two more waves. In the areas unaffected by the tsunami, fire quickly broke out, and flames raged for five days.

Lisbon was not the only Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 city affected by the catastrophe. Throughout the south of the country, in particular the Algarve, destruction was rampant. The tsunami
Tsunami
A tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, typically an ocean or a large lake...

 destroyed some coastal fortresses in the Algarve and, in the lower levels, it razed several houses. Almost all the coastal towns and villages of the Algarve were heavily damaged, except Faro
Faro, Portugal
Faro is the southernmost city in Portugal. It is located in the Faro Municipality in southern Portugal. The city proper has 41,934 inhabitants and the entire municipality has 58,305. It is the seat of the Faro District and capital of the Algarve region...

, which was protected by the sandy banks of Ria Formosa
Ria Formosa
The Ria Formosa lagoon, located in Algarve, in southern Portugal, is a system of barrier islands that communicates with the sea through 6 inlets. Five of these inlets are natural and have mobility characteristics...

. In Lagos
Lagos, Portugal
Lagos is a municipality at the mouth of Bensafrim River and along the Atlantic Ocean, in the Barlavento region of the Algarve, in southern Portugal....

, the waves reached the top of the city walls. Other towns of different Portuguese regions, like Peniche, Cascais
Cascais
Cascais is a coastal town in Cascais Municipality in Portugal, 30 kilometres west of Lisbon, with about 35,000 residents. It is a cosmopolitan suburb of the Portuguese capital and one of the richest municipalities in Portugal. The former fishing village gained fame as a resort for Portugal's royal...

, and even Covilhã
Covilhã
Covilhã is a city in Covilha Municipality in Centro region, Portugal. The city proper has 36,723 inhabitants, and the municipality has an area of 555.6 km² with a total population of 53,501, being composed of 31 parishes. It is located in the Cova da Beira subregion, in the district of...

 which is located near the Serra da Estrela mountain range in central inland Portugal, were affected. The shock waves of the earthquake destroyed part of Covilhã's castle walls and its large towers. On the island of Madeira
Madeira
Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago that lies between and , just under 400 km north of Tenerife, Canary Islands, in the north Atlantic Ocean and an outermost region of the European Union...

, Funchal
Funchal
Funchal is the largest city, the municipal seat and the capital of Portugal's Autonomous Region of Madeira. The city has a population of 112,015 and has been the capital of Madeira for more than five centuries.-Etymology:...

 and many smaller settlements suffered significant damage. Almost all of the ports in the Azores
Azores
The Archipelago of the Azores is composed of nine volcanic islands situated in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, and is located about west from Lisbon and about east from the east coast of North America. The islands, and their economic exclusion zone, form the Autonomous Region of the...

 archipelago suffered most of their destruction from the tsunami, with the sea penetrating about 150 m inland.

Shocks from the earthquake were felt throughout Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 as far as Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 and North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, and according to some sources even in Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 and in the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

. Tsunamis as tall as 20 metres (66 ft) swept the coast of North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, and struck Martinique
Martinique
Martinique is an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of . Like Guadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. To the northwest lies Dominica, to the south St Lucia, and to the southeast Barbados...

 and Barbados
Barbados
Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is in length and as much as in width, amounting to . It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about east of the islands of Saint...

 across the Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. A three-metre (ten-foot) tsunami
Tsunami
A tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, typically an ocean or a large lake...

 hit Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

 on the southern English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 coast. Galway
Galway
Galway or City of Galway is a city in County Galway, Republic of Ireland. It is the sixth largest and the fastest-growing city in Ireland. It is also the third largest city within the Republic and the only city in the Province of Connacht. Located on the west coast of Ireland, it sits on the...

, on the west coast of Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, was also hit, resulting in partial destruction of the "Spanish Arch
Spanish Arch
The Spanish Arch in Galway city, Ireland was originally an extension of the city wall from Martin's Tower to the bank of the Corrib, as a measure to protect the city's quays, which were located in the area once known as the Fish Market...

" section of the city wall. At Kinsale
Kinsale
Kinsale is a town in County Cork, Ireland. Located some 25 km south of Cork City on the coast near the Old Head of Kinsale, it sits at the mouth of the River Bandon and has a population of 2,257 which increases substantially during the summer months when the tourist season is at its peak and...

, several vessels were whirled round in the harbor, and water poured into the marketplace.

Although seismologists and geologists had always agreed that the epicenter was in the Atlantic to the West of the Iberian Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

, its exact location has been a subject of considerable debate. Early theories had proposed the Gorringe Ridge
Gorringe Ridge
The Gorringe Ridge is a seamount in the Atlantic Ocean. It is located about 130 miles west of Portugal, between the Azores and the Strait of Gibraltar along the Azores-Gibraltar fault zone...

 until simulations showed that a source closer to the shore of Portugal was required to comply with the observed effects of the tsunami. A seismic reflection survey of the ocean floor along the Azores-Gibraltar fault has revealed a 50 km-long thrust structure southwest of Cape St. Vincent
Cape St. Vincent
Cape St. Vincent , next to the Sagres Point, on the so-called Costa Vicentina , is a headland in the municipality of Sagres, in the Algarve, southern Portugal.- Description :This cape is the southwesternmost point in Portugal...

, with a dip-slip throw of more than 1 km, that might have been created by the primary tectonic event.

Casualties and damage

Economic historian Álvaro Pereira estimated that of Lisbon's population of approximately 200,000 people, some 30,000–40,000 were killed. Another 10,000 may have lost their lives in Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

; however, a 2009 study of contemporary reports relating to the 1 Nov event found them vague, and difficult to separate from reports of another local series of earthquakes on 18–19 Nov. Pereira estimated the total death toll in Portugal, Spain and Morocco from the earthquake and the resulting fires and tsunami at 40,000 to 50,000 people.

Eighty-five percent of Lisbon's buildings were destroyed, including famous palaces and libraries, as well as most examples of Portugal's distinctive 16th-century Manueline
Manueline
The Manueline, or Portuguese late Gothic, is the sumptuous, composite Portuguese style of architectural ornamentation of the first decades of the 16th century, incorporating maritime elements and representations of the discoveries brought from the voyages of Vasco da Gama and Pedro Álvares Cabral...

 architecture. Several buildings that had suffered little earthquake damage were destroyed by the subsequent fire. The new Opera House, opened just six months before (named the Phoenix Opera), burned to the ground. The Royal Ribeira Palace, which stood just beside the Tagus
Tagus
The Tagus is the longest river on the Iberian Peninsula. It is long, in Spain, along the border between Portugal and Spain and in Portugal, where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean at Lisbon. It drains an area of . The Tagus is highly utilized for most of its course...

 river in the modern square of Terreiro do Paço, was destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami. Inside, the 70,000-volume royal library as well as hundreds of works of art, including paintings by Titian
Titian
Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio (c. 1488/1490 – 27 August 1576 better known as Titian was an Italian painter, the most important member of the 16th-century Venetian school. He was born in Pieve di Cadore, near...

, Rubens, and Correggio
Antonio da Correggio
Antonio Allegri da Correggio , usually known as Correggio, was the foremost painter of the Parma school of the Italian Renaissance, who was responsible for some of the most vigorous and sensuous works of the 16th century...

, were lost. The royal archives disappeared together with detailed historical records of explorations by Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama, 1st Count of Vidigueira was a Portuguese explorer, one of the most successful in the Age of Discovery and the commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India...

 and other early navigators. The earthquake also damaged major churches in Lisbon, namely the Lisbon Cathedral
Lisbon Cathedral
The Patriarchal Cathedral of St. Mary Major is a Roman Catholic parish church located in Lisbon, Portugal. The oldest church in the city is the see of the Archdiocese of Lisbon. Since the beginning of the construction of the cathedral, in the year 1147, the building has been modified several...

, the Basilica
Basilica
The Latin word basilica , was originally used to describe a Roman public building, usually located in the forum of a Roman town. Public basilicas began to appear in Hellenistic cities in the 2nd century BC.The term was also applied to buildings used for religious purposes...

s of São Paulo, Santa Catarina, São Vicente de Fora
Monastery of São Vicente de Fora
The Church or Monastery of São Vicente de Fora; meaning "Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls" is a 17th century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon, in Portugal...

, and the Misericórdia Church
Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição Velha
The Igreja of Nossa Senhora da Conceição Velha is a church in the centre of Lisbon, in Portugal. It is notable as one of the last remnants of the Manueline style in the city....

. The Royal Hospital of All Saints
Hospital Real de Todos os Santos
The Hospital Real de Todos os Santos was a major hospital in Lisbon, Portugal. The hospital was built between 1492 and 1504 and was destroyed in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, along with most of the city.-Foundation:...

 (the largest public hospital at the time) in the Rossio
Rossio
The Rossio is the popular name of the Pedro IV Square in the city of Lisbon, in Portugal. It is located in the Pombaline Downtown of Lisbon and has been one of its main squares since the Middle Ages...

 square was consumed by fire and hundreds of patients burned to death. The tomb of national hero Nuno Álvares Pereira
Nuno Álvares Pereira
Dom Nuno Álvares Pereira, O. Carm. , also spelled Nun'Álvares Pereira, was a Portuguese general of great success who had a decisive role in the 1383-1385 Crisis that assured Portugal's independence from Castile...

 was also lost. Visitors to Lisbon may still walk the ruins of the Carmo Convent
Carmo Convent (Lisbon)
The Carmo Convent is a historical building in Lisbon, Portugal. The mediaeval convent was ruined in the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake, and the ruins of its Gothic church are the main trace of the great earthquake still visible in the city.The Carmo Convent is located in the Chiado neighbourhood, on a...

, which were preserved to remind Lisboners of the destruction.

Relief and reconstruction efforts

The royal family escaped unharmed from the catastrophe; King Joseph I of Portugal and the court had left the city, after attending mass at sunrise, fulfilling the wish of one of the king's daughters to spend the holiday away from Lisbon. After the catastrophe, Joseph I developed a fear of living within walls, and the court was accommodated in a huge complex of tents and pavilions in the hills of Ajuda, then on the outskirts of Lisbon. The king's claustrophobia
Claustrophobia
Claustrophobia is the fear of having no escape and being closed in small spaces or rooms...

 never waned, and it was only after Joseph's death that his daughter Maria I of Portugal
Maria I of Portugal
Maria I was Queen regnant of Portugal and the Algarves from 1777 until her death. Known as Maria the Pious , or Maria the Mad , she was the first undisputed Queen regnant of Portugal...

 began building the royal Ajuda Palace, which still stands on the site of the old tented camp. Like the king, the prime minister Sebastião de Melo (the Marquis of Pombal) survived the earthquake. When asked what was to be done, Pombal reportedly replied "Bury the dead and heal the living," and set upon organizing relief and rehabilitation efforts. Firefighters were sent to extinguish the raging flames, and teams of workers and ordinary citizens were ordered to remove the thousands of corpses before disease could spread. Contrary to custom and against the wishes of the Church, many corpses were loaded onto barge
Barge
A barge is a flat-bottomed boat, built mainly for river and canal transport of heavy goods. Some barges are not self-propelled and need to be towed by tugboats or pushed by towboats...

s and buried at sea
Burial at sea
Burial at sea describes the procedure of disposing of human remains in the ocean, normally from a ship or boat. It is regularly performed by navies, but also can be done by private citizens in many countries.-By religion:...

 beyond the mouth of the Tagus. To prevent disorder in the ruined city, the Portuguese Army
Portuguese Army
The Portuguese Army is the ground branch of the Portuguese Armed Forces which, in co-operation with other branches of the Portuguese military, is charged with the defence of Portugal...

 was deployed and gallows
Gallows
A gallows is a frame, typically wooden, used for execution by hanging, or by means to torture before execution, as was used when being hanged, drawn and quartered...

 were constructed at high points around the city to deter looters; more than thirty people were publicly executed. The Army prevented many able-bodied citizens from fleeing, pressing them into relief and reconstruction work.

The king and the prime minister immediately launched efforts to rebuild the city. On 4 December 1755, little more than a month after the earthquake, Manuel da Maia, chief engineer to the realm, presented his plans for the re-building of Lisbon. Maia presented five options from abandoning Lisbon to building a completely new city. The first plan was to rebuild the old city using re-cycled materials; this was the cheapest option. The second and third plans proposed widening certain streets. The fourth option boldly proposed razing the entire Baixa quarter and "laying out new streets without restraint". This last option was chosen by the king and his minister.
In less than a year, the city was cleared of debris. Keen to have a new and perfectly ordained city, the king commissioned the construction of big squares, rectilinear, large avenues and widened streets – the new mottos of Lisbon.

The Pombaline
Pombaline style
The Pombaline style was a Portuguese architectural style of the 18th century, named after Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, the first Marquês de Pombal who was instrumental in reconstructing Lisbon after the earthquake of 1755. Pombal supervised the plans drawn up by the military engineers Manuel...

 buildings are among the earliest seismically
Seismology
Seismology is the scientific study of earthquakes and the propagation of elastic waves through the Earth or through other planet-like bodies. The field also includes studies of earthquake effects, such as tsunamis as well as diverse seismic sources such as volcanic, tectonic, oceanic,...

 protected constructions in Europe. Small wooden models were built for testing, and earthquakes were simulated by marching troops around them. Lisbon's "new" downtown, known today as the Pombaline Downtown
Pombaline Downtown
The Pombaline Lower Town area covers about 235,620 square metres of central Lisbon, Portugal. It comprises the grid of streets north of the Praça do Comércio, roughly between the Cais do Sodré and the Alfama district beneath the Lisbon Castle, and extends northwards towards the Rossio and...

 (Baixa Pombalina), is one of the city's famed attractions. Sections of other Portuguese cities, like the Vila Real de Santo António in Algarve, were also rebuilt along Pombaline principles.

The Casa Pia
Casa Pia
The Casa Pia is a Portuguese institution founded by Mary I, known as "Pia" , and organized by Police Intendant Pina Manique in 1780, following the social disarray of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. For almost three centuries, thousands of young boys and girls were raised by Casa Pia, including many...

, a Portuguese institution founded by Maria I, known as "Pia" (Pious, in English), and organized by Police Intendant Pina Manique in 1780, was founded following the social disarray of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.

Effect on society and philosophy

The earthquake had wide-ranging effects on the lives of the populace and intelligentsia. The earthquake had struck on an important church holiday and had destroyed almost every important church in the city, causing anxiety and confusion amongst the citizens of a staunch and devout Roman Catholic city and country, which had been a major patron of the Church. Theologians and philosophers would focus and speculate on the religious cause and message, seeing the earthquake as a manifestation of divine judgement.

The earthquake and its fallout strongly influenced the intelligentsia of the Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an Age of Enlightenment. The noted writer-philosopher Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

 used the earthquake in Candide
Candide
Candide, ou l'Optimisme is a French satire first published in 1759 by Voltaire, a philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment. The novella has been widely translated, with English versions titled Candide: or, All for the Best ; Candide: or, The Optimist ; and Candide: or, Optimism...

and in his Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne
Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne
The Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne was a poem in French composed by Voltaire, regarding the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. It is widely regarded as an introduction to Voltaire's later acclaimed work Candide...

("Poem on the Lisbon disaster"). Voltaire's Candide attacks the notion that all is for the best in this, "the best of all possible worlds", a world closely supervised by a benevolent deity. The Lisbon disaster provided a counterexample. As Theodor Adorno
Theodor W. Adorno
Theodor W. Adorno was a German sociologist, philosopher, and musicologist known for his critical theory of society....

 wrote, "[t]he earthquake of Lisbon sufficed to cure Voltaire of the theodicy
Theodicy
Theodicy is a theological and philosophical study which attempts to prove God's intrinsic or foundational nature of omnibenevolence , omniscience , and omnipotence . Theodicy is usually concerned with the God of the Abrahamic religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, due to the relevant...

 of Leibniz
Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a German philosopher and mathematician. He wrote in different languages, primarily in Latin , French and German ....

" (Negative Dialectics 361). In the later twentieth century, following Adorno
Theodor W. Adorno
Theodor W. Adorno was a German sociologist, philosopher, and musicologist known for his critical theory of society....

, the 1755 earthquake has sometimes been compared to the Holocaust as a catastrophe that transformed European culture and philosophy. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.His novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise...

 was also influenced by the devastation following the earthquake, whose severity he believed was due to too many people living within the close quarters of the city. Rousseau used the earthquake as an argument against cities as part of his desire for a more naturalistic way of life.

The concept of the sublime
Sublime (philosophy)
In aesthetics, the sublime is the quality of greatness, whether physical, moral, intellectual, metaphysical, aesthetic, spiritual or artistic...

, though it existed before 1755, was developed in philosophy and elevated to greater importance by Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

, in part as a result of his attempts to comprehend the enormity of the Lisbon quake and tsunami. Kant published three separate texts on the Lisbon earthquake. The young Kant, fascinated with the earthquake, collected all the information available to him in news pamphlets, and used it to formulate a theory of the causes of earthquakes. Kant's theory, which involved the shifting of huge subterranean caverns filled with hot gases, was (though ultimately shown to be false) one of the first systematic modern attempts to explain earthquakes by positing natural, rather than supernatural, causes. According to Walter Benjamin
Walter Benjamin
Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin was a German-Jewish intellectual, who functioned variously as a literary critic, philosopher, sociologist, translator, radio broadcaster and essayist...

, Kant's slim early book on the earthquake "probably represents the beginnings of scientific geography in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. And certainly the beginnings of seismology."

Werner Hamacher
Werner Hamacher
Werner Hamacher is a German literary critic and theorist influenced by deconstruction. Hamacher studied philosophy, comparative literature and religious studies at the Free University of Berlin and the École Normale Supérieure , where he got in touch with Jacques Derrida...

 has claimed that the earthquake's consequences extended into the vocabulary of philosophy, making the common metaphor of firm "grounding" for philosophers' arguments shaky and uncertain: "Under the impression exerted by the Lisbon earthquake, which touched the European mind in one [of] its more sensitive epochs, the metaphor of ground and tremor completely lost their apparent innocence; they were no longer merely figures of speech" (263). Hamacher claims that the foundational certainty of Descartes
René Descartes
René Descartes ; was a French philosopher and writer who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed the 'Father of Modern Philosophy', and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day...

' philosophy began to shake following the Lisbon earthquake.

The earthquake had a major impact on Portuguese politics. The prime minister was the favorite of the king, but the aristocracy despised him as an upstart son of a country squire (although the Prime Minister Sebastião de Melo is known today as Marquis of Pombal, the title was only granted in 1770, fifteen years after the earthquake). The prime minister in turn disliked the old nobles, whom he considered corrupt and incapable of practical action. Before 1 November 1755 there was a constant struggle for power and royal favor, but the competent response of the Marquis of Pombal effectively severed the power of the old aristocratic factions. However, silent opposition and resentment of King Joseph I began to rise, which would culminate with the attempted assassination of the king, and the subsequent elimination of the powerful Duke of Aveiro
Duke of Aveiro
The Royal Dukedom of Aveiro was an aristocratic Portuguese title, granted in 1535 by King John III of Portugal to his 4th cousin, John of Lencastre, son of Infante George of Lencastre, a natural son of King John II of Portugal....

 and the Távora family
Távora affair
The Távora affair was a political scandal of the 18th century Portuguese court. The events triggered by the attempted murder of King Joseph I of Portugal in 1758 ended with the public execution of the entire Távora family and its closest relatives in 1759...

.

Development of seismology

The prime minister's response was not limited to the practicalities of reconstruction. He ordered a query sent to all parish
Parish
A parish is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of one parish priest, who might be assisted in his pastoral duties by a curate or curates - also priests but not the parish priest - from a more or less central parish church with its associated organization...

es of the country regarding the earthquake and its effects. Questions included:
  • At what time did the earthquake begin and how long did the earthquake last?
  • Did you perceive the shock to be greater from one direction than another? Example, from north to south? Did buildings seem to fall more to one side than the other?
  • How many people died and were any of them distinguished?
  • Did the sea rise or fall first, and how many hands did it rise above the normal?
  • If fire broke out, how long did it last and what damage did it cause?


The answers to these and other questions are still archived in the Torre do Tombo, the national historical archive. Studying and cross-referencing the priests' accounts, modern scientists were able to reconstruct the event from a scientific perspective. Without the query designed by the Marquis of Pombal, this would have been impossible. Because the marquis was the first to attempt an objective scientific description of the broad causes and consequences of an earthquake, he is regarded as a forerunner of modern seismological scientists.

The geological
Geology
Geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which it evolves. Geology gives insight into the history of the Earth, as it provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and past climates...

 causes of this earthquake and the seismic activity in the region continue to be discussed and debated by contemporary scientists.

See also

  • List of earthquakes
  • Earthquake Baroque
    Earthquake Baroque
    Earthquake Baroque is a style of Baroque architecture found in places like the Philippines and Guatemala, which suffered destructive earthquakes during the 17th century and 18th century, where large public buildings, such as churches were rebuilt in a Baroque style...

  • 1755 Cape Ann Earthquake
    1755 Cape Ann Earthquake
    The Cape Ann Earthquake took place off the coast of the British Province of Massachusetts Bay on November 18, 1755. At between 6.0 and 6.3 on the Richter scale, it remains the largest earthquake in the history of Massachusetts...


External links



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