Talk:1755 Lisbon earthquake

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Former featured article 1755 Lisbon earthquake is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on July 16, 2005.

Brava Muriel![edit]

Masterful job Muriel! The combination of the historical and geological angles is truly superb. Wikipedia is lucky to have you here! -- Viajero 09:42, 3 Nov 2003 (UTC)

  • Thank you! I'm blushing a bit... Muriel Gottrop 11:14, 3 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Tidal wave[edit]

Hi, According to the American Heritage Dictionary (4th ed), tidal wave also means tsunami. Why use a fancy Japanese word when we have a plain English one? -- Viajero 21:00, 29 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Because the "fancy Japanese word" is more precise and more accurate - although it doesn't really matter all that much, since tidal wave redirects to tsunami (see either link for details). -- Jredmond 21:12, 29 Oct 2003 (UTC)
Excuse me, but who are you to say what is more precise and more accurate? We are not talking about mathematics here, this is human language, something that changes and evolves continuously. My (corpus-based) dictionary says they mean the same thing. That's fine. We'll use Tsunami instead, since you like it better. I just didn't care for your snide Summary comment. -- Viajero 11:57, 30 Oct 2003 (UTC)
I apologize for my tone, but the article for tsunami does mention that the term "tidal wave" is often incorrectly applied to tsunamis. Good point about the lack of precision in language; if nothing else, the use of "tsunami" is more consistent with other articles. Again, sorry about the tone. -- Jredmond 14:52, 30 Oct 2003 (UTC)
And i think that tsunami is more international: Tidal wave in portuguese, for instance, is tsunami! Muriel Gottrop 14:58, 30 Oct 2003 (UTC)

To Muriel : ALthough we use the therm tsunami, the correct portuguese word is "maremoto." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:06, August 25, 2007 (UTC)

"Maremoto" is a generic word that can mean both a "tidal wave" and a "tsunami". 19:13, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
To both Muriel and the above unsigned user : "Maremoto" is the correct portuguese word for "Tsunami", although we use both without preference. "Tidal wave" in portuguese is "Marés vivas" only, as "maremoto" only refers to the seismic effect. Rafael V. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:51, 24 September 2012 (UTC)

Tidal wave is to Tsunami as Monkey is to Ape. Frequent misuse does not make it right. The Librarian violently attacks anyone who refers to him as a monkey! --Diamonddavej (talk) 20:02, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

      Tidal wave is a term used incorrectly to describe a tsunami. Tidal waves are caused by the tides, tsunamis are created by other seismic activity 

such as volcanoes and earthquakes. I think tsunami is also a wave created by a meteor strike but i'm unsure on this. Adam Smith 22/02/2009

query: reference to Marquis of Pombal[edit]

The reference to Marquis of Pombal seems ambiguous:

Priests of the Inquisition roamed the city, rounding up "heretics" and hanging them on the spot for angering God. This gave the Marquis of Pombal, the de facto ruler of Portugal, the excuse to start an all-out struggle against the Jesuits.

Was he surpressing the Jesuits for hanging people? Or did he also use the earthquake as an excuse to surpress the Jesuits. (I assume the latter). Perhaps this could be disambiguated. Viajero 14:11, 2 Nov 2003 (UTC)

  • The Marquis' hatred to the Jesuits is well known historically. Why? Because they were aligned with the high nobility which he despised and vice-versa. One Jesuit, Gabriel Malagrida, was the confessor of the Marquis' arch-enemy: the marquioness of Tavora. I wrote the Tavora affair about what happened next. Perhaps we could put there more emphasis on what happened to the Jesuits. Cheers, Muriel Gottrop 16:48, 2 Nov 2003 (UTC)
    • And i'm planning to expand this article, so stay tooned for possible discussions... Muriel

FYI, Susan Nieman treats the Lisbon quake and (on a few pages) Pombal in her Evil In Modern Thought. I have yet to read it, but in an as-yet-unpublished review of this book, Edward T. Oakes, SJ, writes that Pombal "even had a Jesuit preacher of the old Sodom-and-Gomorrah style arrested on trumped-up charges and executed an Enlightenment version of an auto-da-fé! For to his mind, it was precisely the old theological interpretation[namely, that disasters were punishments for the peoples' sins -KJJ] that was preventing the authorities from addressing a natural catastrophe on natural terms." --KJJ 15:56, Feb 11, 2005 (UTC)


Tsunamis up to twenty meters in height swept the coast from North Africa to Finland and across the Atlantic to Martinique and Barbados. Finland? Look on a map; that's unreasonable. It should perhaps be Norway? -FredrikM

I find it very strange. Every other text I read said Scotland was the farthest place the tsunami struck, not Finlad nor Norway. (talk) 22:53, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Auto de Fé[edit]

Wasn't there an auto de fé soon after the earthquake? This may be where the hanging priests allegation was referring to. Will have to look this up - many heretics were burnt, rather than hanged, in a typical auto-de-fé, anyhow. I don't know whether an auto-de-fé was called *specifically* to purge the city of the sins that had brought about divine punishment. Hasdrubal 15:41, 5 September 2005 (UTC)

Yes - I've found numerous references to the same... in fact I surfed to this page accidentally after reading about Auto de Fé and how they were conducted following the earthquake. I have updated the page with a paragraph under the Voltaire section as he makes direct reference to the acts in one of his contemporary writings.

Kinda puts the inane argument about hanging into perspective doesn't it. -- 10:59, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

  • To answer the original question, "Wasn't there an auto de fé soon after the earthquake?" – in all of my research I found no evidence at all that there were any before the last one, which was conducted in 1761, by the Marquis de Pombal, who took over the Inquisition very soon after the earthquake for use as an arm of the state. This was when Pombal had the Jesuit priest, Gabriel Malagrida, arrested on trumped up charges of regicide and heresy, placed his (Pombal’s) own brother in the position of "Grand Inquisitor" and had Malagrida found guilty, strangled and burned. This auto de fe, in which the Catholic Church had no role, and to which the reading of the charges against Malagrida took over for over 2 hours, was made famous throughout the 18th Century world because of its injustice.

For the individual who "found numerous references to the same" - I would be very interested in your references. The only references I could find were regarding Voltaire’s “Candide.” For your information, "Candide" was a satire - NOT a "report" on the alleged activities of the Catholic Church after the earthquake, as you state in the article. As Edward Peters writes in "Inquisition," (pp. 178-181) “A superficial knowledge of the inquisitions and Voltaire’s willingness to use them for generally satirical purposes is evident in his work until very late in his life…” and “The use of the inquisitions by Voltaire is simply the casual, routine depiction of the satirized 18th Century world, more comic and foolish than deadly. Even the satire of the Inquisition in Candide (1759) reveals no greater knowledge of or concern with the inquisitions than Voltaire’s ordinary reading in personal memoirs, travel literature and history.” Peters goes on to describe the scene in which Pangloss and Candide are arrested by an Inquisition officer because Pangloss seemed to be doubting original sin and free will. “These are positions that Voltaire himself condemned in the thought of Leibniz, and the official of the Inquisition thus serves Voltaire’s own purposes.”

Peters goes on: “One of Voltaire’s sources for the auto de fe appears to have been Dellon’s “Relation de l’inquisition de Goa,” which was published in 1688 and frequently reprinted during the 18th Century. However, the entire chapter is a jewel of Voltairean satire. From the mighty conclusions of the University of Coimbra, the deliberate trivializing of the offenses of the accused, the relentless focusing on the evident visual and ritual absurdity of the auto de fe by depriving it of any meaning other than visual….Voltaire introduces the topic of the Inquisition to comic literature.”

Voltaire hated any kind of religious persecution, and as Peters (and others) write, before 1761, the satirical tool he used to attack attitudes of bigotry and intolerance that he perceived in any human society, religious or non-religious, Christian or non-Christian, Catholic or Protestant, was the “non-specific inquisition.” After 1761, all of that changed. The public outcry over the injustice of Pombal’s treatment of the priest, Gabriel Malagrida, was enormous. A poem by Juan Luc Poggi entitled “The apotheos of Father Malagrida,” and a three act play by de Longchamp entitled “Malagrida,” were only a few works comdemning Pombal’s actions. Voltaire’s voice was one of the loudest. So, while Candide was a satire arising from no particular or specific case, as you seem to think, the “Sermon of Rabbi Akiba,” published about 2 months after Malagrida was killed, was very specific to Malagrida. In it, Voltaire, through the voice of a near-eastern Jew, indicted ALL forms of religious persecution, in particular the execution of Father Malagrida.

Therefore, I am removing your paragraph implying that Candide was some sort of news report on actual happenings after the Lisbon quake, a “reference to the response of the Catholic Church to the earthquake,” In addition, the auto de fe was not a “rite of the Catholic Inquisition in which those convicted of having caused the earthquake through their heresy accepted their sins in a form of public penance.” That statement is completely wrong in point of historical fact. I have spent a great deal of time and effort examining this issue, and it will take more than your simple misunderstanding of Voltaire’s satire to allege, with no proof whatsoever, that the Catholic Church burned anyone at the stake in Lisbon for "having caused the earthquake through their heresy" or, for any other reason! Polycarp7 16:48, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

I was logged in when I made the deletion, but by the time I hit the save button, my session timed out and it doesn’t show my name, only my IP address. polycarp7 10:19 12 April. Polycarp7 02:21, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

  • I treated all of the above in my articles on Catholic Exchange, especially Voltaire's "Candide" and Father Malagrida's execution by Pombal on trumped up charges. They can be accessed from several links within Wikipedia - and since I researched the subject for over 10 months, I sincerely hope that in the future you will consult my research before you resurrect this bogus allegation against the Catholic Church. It was Pombal who was killing priests, NOT the other way around. 06:00, 12 April 2006 (UTC)Polycarp7 16:41, 12 April 2006 (UTC)
Sorry - didn't see this discussion before I reverted the deletion. That paragraph was added by (talk · contribs) at 11:54, 14 March 2006.diff and I have taken the text out again. You are right: we should not present satire as a factual "report" or a "direct and contemporaneous reference", although the last sentence ("it having been decided by the University of Coimbra, that the burning of a few people alive by a slow fire, and with great ceremony, is an infallible preventive of earthquakes") makes it reasonably obvious that Voltaire is not being entirely serious. -- ALoan (Talk) 13:11, 12 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Thank you, ALoan, for the hearty welcome, and for your consideration of my research on this subject. I hope that someday in the future, I will be able to work consistently on some articles. At present, it is not possible for me to be a consistent contributor. I found this latest entry by user quite by accident, and had to address it. I thought I was logged in when I made the last remark, and by the time I found out I wasn't, the edits were locked for administrative work. I've added my user name to it. Thanks again, ALoan! Hope to work with you sometime in the future. Polycarp7 16:41, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

Hanging priests allegation[edit]

  • FOOTNOTES, PLEASE!! I have requested this several times.

Where is your source for the allegation that "priests roamed the city hanging people suspected of heresy on sight"? I say it never happened, and that this is a total distortion of what really happened in the aftermath of the tsunami of 1755. Since this allegation has been in the news recently, virtually plaguerized by many writers from CBS News to The Washington Post, it is important that you at least show some respected historical evidence for this allegation. Otherwise, it would seem that this is just another false charge that was leveled against the much maligned Jesuits of the time, and carried over into today.

  • You wrote: "Jesus! Then remove the allegation. Its not my essay, it's our (like in me, you and everybody else here) article. muriel@pt 13:23, 20 Jan 2005 (UTC)."

There is no need to take the Lord's Name. Yes, I disagree vehemently with the allegation, but am asking that the writer cite their source - as it states clearly on the Edit Page: "Please cite your sources so others can check your work." I have been checking into the truth of this allegation, and have others doing so, yet can find nothing at all. It is like trying to prove a negative. I assert, then, that it was simply made up, and never happened. I am not going to change it - I am simply going to leave it for all to read, that the writer cited no source, because no source exists except within the writer's mind.

  • Dear anon user, if you disagree with the article in some way, you are invited to change it. muriel@pt 13:25, 20 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • I lookes into it, the sentence in question is a relic of the first version, i didnt write it. If you dont want to remove it, dont complain then. And you should sign your comments typing 4 ~. All the best, muriel@pt 19:19, 20 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • I do not believe it is "complaining" to ask that a source to be cited, especially in a serious charge such as "priests roamed the city hanging people suspected of heresy on sight." What I believe is that there is a serious, anti-Catholic bias to the unattributed statement. And there is reason to complain about that! Theresa.
  • As you said, the "sentence in question is a relic of the first version, I didn't write it." No, you didn't write it. But when a question was posed by user Viajero on Nov. 2, 2003, you did not hesitate to answer.

"Was he surpressing the Jesuits for hanging people? Or did he also use the earthquake as an excuse to surpress the Jesuits. (I assume the latter). Perhaps this could be disambiguated. Viajero 14:11, 2 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Rather than question the truth of this preposterous claim, you answered the question, giving credence to the unattributed allegation, as though it were true. I am still asking for a credible source for this allegation, posted on this site since October of 2003, with no source cited. Theresa (user polycarp7).

  • Dear Theresa, welcome to wikipedia! Thank you for your opinions about the earthquake. Again, if you dont like a part of an article and you have good reasons, you are more than welcome to make the change. As i said, i dont have a reference though i dont find the allegation strange, considering the power of the Jesuits at the time and the religious fanatism of the time. I didnt mean to insult any belief by mentioning Jesus and i'm sorry if i did so. Tip: you can sign your comments by typing 4 tildas (~). Cheers, muriel@pt 09:32, 26 Jan 2005 (UTC)

  • Dear Murial: Statements such as "the power of the jesuits" and "religious fanaticism" reflect bias and a lack of objectivity, and have nothing to do with the truth. Regardless of one's biased opinions about the devout Catholicism of the Portugese people, and the Jesuits' dedication to spreading the Gospel , the fact remains that no priests were running around hanging people after the Lisbon disaster. And unless a source for such an extreme allegation can be cited, it should not be included in any article. Do a Google search for the phrase you call a "relic" and you will see how many articles have been written that include this fabrication. There is even an anti-Catholic home-school curriculum, published in 2004, that has included the information, with Wikipedia footnoted. Even more have been written, and picked up in newspapers across the country, and sermons preached, since the South Asia disaster. There is a such thing as "justice" and it opposes justice to write things about people that cannot be verified in ANY credible reference or eye-witness account. I realize you didn't write the line, but your leaving the line in based not on any facts but your own feelings has caused a serious injustice and taints an otherwise very WELL DONE article you have done on the Lisbon disaster. I respect your dedication to this project, but I ask only that you try to understand the injustice that has been done. There are many very scholarly and learned historians who would not characterize the jesuits of that time as do you. Polycarp7 04:53, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)

FWIW, has a picture of hangings in the aftermath of the earthquake, with the commentary Signs of crime, disorder, and disease are evident, and criminals are being hanged under the supervision of soldiers and priests. I suspect that the crimes involved were looting and suchlike rather than heresy, however. Mark1 03:46, 17 Feb 2005 (UTC)

  • Yes, has a picture, which is now found in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake article. The caption reads, and this is not a direct quote, that priests were "supervising" the hangings of criminals. Again, as with the unattributed allegation that priests were "hanging" people, where is the evidence that priests were "supervising" the hangings? Sources which speak of the king erecting gallows to hang looters make no mention of priests supervising. Check:
Robert K. Reeves’ “The Lisbon Earthquake of 1755: Confrontation between the Church and the Enlightenment in 18th Century Portugal.
The Lisbon Earthquake of 1755: British Accounts. Translated by Judite Nozes. Lisbon: The British Historical Society of Portugal, 1990
Thomas Chase's account in the Gentleman's Magazine, Volume 88, from July to December, 1860. pages 195 though 297.
Russell R. Dynes. “The Lisbon Earthquake in 1755: The First Modern Disaster,” University of Delaware Disaster Research Center, Dept. of Sociology and Criminal Justice, 2003
It is entirely possible that priests were present at some of the hangings for religious purposes, just as they are today at state sponsored executions. In fact, they are no more "supervising" today's state executions than they were supervising the executions in Lisbon in 1755.

Since it appears I have been criticized for not changing the 1755 Lisbon article, I will do two things:

First, I will change the caption under the picture to more accurately reflect what historical sources say. There is a great body of evidence that these "survivors" who were executed were looters, (as well as murderers and arsonists).
Second, I will respond to the charge made on another page (please excuse my ignorance in not knowing how to respond to that charge to the person making it, and on the "appropriate" page, since I have also been criticized for my ignorance in Wikipedia "protocol.") that I was somehow not really interested in truth because I didn't change the article by removing the "priests roamed allegation." I beg to differ with the person making the charge - since I was interested in the truth, and was rather certain that my own research is not infallible, I left it in for the original author, or for anyone else who might have a credible source for the allegation, to post it. Deleting it would have not been respecting the truth, should the allegation prove true. I figured that the more people read that unsourced allegation, the better the chances of someone putting forth a source. I also believe the individual who originated the allegation, and the individual who answered a question about it, have a responsibility to submit a source so that it could be checked. In the course of my own research, which has included checking over 20 different secular sources, which are not at all "friendly" toward the Catholic Church, asking respecting historians who have done extensive research on this period, about 7 church histories that I personally own, several books on the Inquisition (Kamen, Peters included - these used documents from the Spanish and Portugese Inquisitions, yet make no mention of heretics being hung after the Lisbon quake), and several books that included eye witness accounts. I am wondering why in all that I have checked, there is no mention of this alleged incident, yet still willing to admit that I have not checked every source on the subject, and that maybe the individual who originated the line in October, 2003, would have some information on it. Personally, I doubt it, but will happily concede should a credible source be put forth.
  • Since I have also been criticized for messing up this page, I am attempting to put the discussion in order. Polycarp7 05:55, 4 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I'm a little confused... Although it appears that the original claim that priests went around hanging those who may have angered god appears not to be strongly enough substantiated, the current version of the article makes no mention of the priests who were (according to citation) involved in the executions, and further, it claims that the executions were specifically for looting, a point which I have not seen substantiated in the citations. If indeed the article originally contained a bias, the correct procedure for correcting it is not to insert bias in the other direction. Can someone unburdened by religious affiliation to the issue at hand please comment on this matter based on the historical data? --Gmaxwell 23:31, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

After the "hanging priests" controversy began, I started looking into this issue — I in fact posted the image of the hanging. The two priests in the image appear to be delivering last rites (one holds a cross, the other, possibly, a prayer book or Bible). I was completely unable to find any support whatsoever for the allegation that priests assigned responsibility or exacted arbitrary vengeance in the wake of the disaster (and believe me, I looked for it!). Though the reference to the 34 hanged looters did not come from me (and I wish it were footnoted, so I could check it out myself), it is in keeping with other observations and accounts, notably from English travellers, who mentioned the construction of gallows to deter looting. You note a bias "in the other direction," and I'm curious what seems biased to you now. I myself feel the article is balanced at this point. Sandover 22:44, 25 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Perfect. I withdraw my complaint then.. My concern was that the new 'position' seemed to be based on as little substianted material as the orignal text and that it was changed without real discussion or without real research. It appears that you've performed the needed research, thank you! --Gmaxwell 05:21, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

References and Feature Nomination[edit]

This article is really superb and if only someone would add some references, it would imho be ready to be a featured article--XmarkX 14:28, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I completely agree. Sandover 17:05, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I've now added a few references, at least ones with which I am familiar and which are reliable. There aren't many easy references for this particular subject. If someone could post a few more links, I am sure readers would be grateful.

This is article is so broad-ranged and wide-shouldered, it's impossible to source everything in it. But it's a delight to read, because it so succinctly combines many different points of view (including the historical, philosophical, religious, scientific and political). Very readable, too; part of it flows like a thriller.

Yes, it was a diamond-in-the-rough when I and a few others began editing on it in late December 2004, after the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. It's been nominated before, but I think it's time has come to be actually be a Featured article.

Below are a few souvenirs of some ancient edit wars. Most of what people are arguing about here is now deleted completely. Sandover 05:05, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)

rm paragraph[edit]

I removed the following section:

Although Portugal, with Spain, had led Europe in the first centuries of maritime exploration and colonialization, the earthquake and tsunami effectively ceded the 19th Century colonial scramble to England, France, and later, to Germany and Italy. In the generation following the earthquake many colonial Portuguese, including some who had intermarried with Africans and Brazilians, returned to Lisbon. The darker hue sometimes seen in Portuguese skin tones today -- by comparison to Spanish neighbors -- is popularly credited to the 18th century genetic commingling that came with the retornados following the 1755 earthquake.

Because the darker skin theory is crap: Portuguese were maryying and having children with the natives from colonies ever since the XIV century - nothing to do with the earthquake. I wonder were is said that portuguese are darker than Spanish - it is certainly not popular thought since colour is not really a thing one thinks about in this part of the world... The idea of making a parallel with the earthquake and the decline of the Portuguese Empire is tempting but incorrect. The Empire was already going down the drain, since the time Portugal and Spain were a Personal Union under the Habsburgs and the Habsburgs were quarrelling with the rest of Europe. Actually the Pombal government was a peak of the empire's fortunes. muriel@pt 10:44, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Well, the parallel with the earthquake and the decline of the Portuguese Empire is also carried by the CIA in its World Factbook:
Following its heyday as a world power during the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal lost much of its wealth and status with the destruction of Lisbon in a 1755 earthquake, occupation during the Napoleonic Wars, and the independence in 1822 of Brazil as a colony. A 1910 revolution deposed the monarchy; for most of the next six decades, repressive governments ran the country. In 1974, a left-wing military coup installed broad democratic reforms. The following year, Portugal granted independence to all of its African colonies. Portugal is a founding member of NATO and entered the EC (now the EU) in 1986. [1]
But I agree the darker skin thing is absolute rubbish. —Cantus 06:39, Feb 14, 2005 (UTC)
Note that the reference does not mention the quake alone, but along with several other things of which the loss of Brazil followed by a civil war were a major blow. I didnt imagine the Cia factbook mentioning this kind of thing! Always learning. muriel@pt 11:33, 14 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • Oh god, what a thing to say. Portuguese have darker skin than Spanish? Mixed Portuguese stayed on their new lands, very few have returned. In fact, most descendents are returning today (are known TODAY has Brazilians, Cape Verdeans, Mixed Angolans, etc.). It is true that Portuguese intermarriage since the first discoveries (due to culture and royal politics - need of population in the colonies). Possibly, some returned, and some Portuguese have African descendance and they don't know it, and noone cares. It is possible, but it would be a minority. Maybe the one who wrote that came to Portugal in the summer, and in the summer everyone has a very dark skin due to the sun and beach. I believe this is the reason. BTW intermarriage with Africans, Asians and Amerindians is the most beautiful remnant of the Portuguese Empire. I wouldn't have the Cape Verdean Music to listen to (music that I like), if Portuguese wouldn't intermarriage, or even the Brazilian and the Angolan one. The portuguese empire started to decline with the Union with Spain, because of Spain's problems in Europe. Before it, Portugal had no enemies, except for Spanish competition, and after the independence it started diplomatic talks with other nations, trying to restaure it. For instance, before the union, Portugal had very close ties with England and Flanders. Even with France. If Portugal was united with their enemy why they wouldn't attack the Portuguese colonies? So, they did, officially and unofficially (Pirates). The decline started has the British, Dutch and France empires rose, attacking the Portuguese one.

This article is terrific! -Pedro 11:50, 5 May 2005 (UTC)

One would be hard pressed to see a single dark colored person in continental portugal back in 1960's. Also Immigration back home was almost nonexistant in the XVIII and XIX centuries since most 2nd and 3rd sons had no home to return to (the 1st son inherited all). Since the independence of Brazil most of the elite remained in south america and there never was a slave or freed black population in continental europe prior to the end of the colonial war in 1974 when some supporters of the regime immigrated from africa. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Sotavento (talkcontribs) 01:12, 22 February 2017 (UTC)

The language needs polish, I guess[edit]

"Destruction was generalized". Is it English? – Kpalion (talk) 23:08, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Yes it is. English English, in fact. Sandover 01:44, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Fine. Just wanted to be sure. – Kpalion (talk) 02:03, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Surely it's American English? In English English it would be "Destruction was generalised" 10:13, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Yes. American English uses -ize and British English uses -ise sometimes for verbs. In Wikipedia you can use whichever, as long as you're fairly consistent. Here ya go, an excerpt from an article... American_and_British_English_differences
"Greek-derived spellings
... -ise / -ize
American spelling accepts only colonize, harmonize, and realize. These -ize spellings are sometimes used in the Commonwealth as well, but many Commonwealth writers and publications use colonise, harmonise, and realise instead. Although most authoritative Commonwealth sources, including the Oxford English Dictionary and Fowler's Modern English Usage, prefer -ize, some give the -ise spelling first, including the Australian Macquarie Dictionary. The same pattern—the spelling -s- in Commonwealth only, -z- in either Commonwealth or American—applies to derivatives and inflexions such as colonisation and colonization." WhiteC 15:39, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Kant and seismology[edit]

I don't know enough to have an opinion on the importance of Kant's natural-philosophy explanations of the Lisbon quake on the evolution of seismology -- though it seems reasonable to call them "forerunners" as very early and semi-scientific/non-supernatural explanations. If it helps, my source for this claim was Walter Benjamin's children's-radio broadcast text on the quake. -- Rbellin|Talk 03:27, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)

If Walter Benjamin says Kant is a forerunner in seismology, well, I'd go with that. But if Benjamin only talks about the nature of Kant's speculations on gases (which are appropriate in this entry, but only really to set up Kant's fascination with the subject), let's leave the edit as is, and not call him a "forerunner" for this work. I feel it is more accurate for the article to say the science of seismology developed out of observations made by forerunners like the Jesuits, who took notes and made observations on the order of Pombal...that's all very well-established. Sandover 03:37, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)

This is Benjamin's passage on Kant and the quake:

No one was more fascinated by these remarkable events than the great German philosopher Kant, whose name may be familiar to some of you. At the time of the earthquake he was a young man of twenty-four, who had never left his hometown of Königsberg -- and who would never do so in the future. But he eagerly collected all the reports of the earthquake that he could find, and the slim book he wrote about it probably represents the beginnings of scientific geography in Germany. And certainly the beginnings of seismology. I would gladly tell you something of the route taken by this science from that description of the earthquake of 1755 down to the present day. But I must take care...

I'll leave it up to other editors whether any of this belongs in the article. -- Rbellin|Talk 04:26, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The problem with emphasising Kant's innovation in his approach is that scientific/atomistic accounts of earthquakes date back at least at least to the Epicureans (Kant is known to have read Lucretius, 1st century BC, who offers theories in book 6 of his de rerum natura). Perhaps the significance of Kant's work needs more qualification. (talk) 15:13, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

The article on the "priests hanging people" controversy[edit]

For those who are trying to track down the controversy mentioned in the Wikipedia Quarto, here are the two parts of the article by Theresa E. Carpinelli on the issue: Part One, Part Two. JesseW 5 July 2005 22:03 (UTC)

She added a Part Three and Part Four Oct/Nov 2005. David Bergan 18:06, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Cause of the quake[edit]

"Since Lisbon is located in a centre of a tectonic plate, there are no obvious reasons for the event, since almost all tectonic events occur at plate borders."

I'm no geologist, but it looks to me like Lisbon is pretty close to the border between the Eurasian and African plates. See Image:Tectonic_plates.png. — Ливай | 01:15, 16 July 2005 (UTC)

I agree this statement is wrong and I am going to remove it. Here is some reference material:
"It is believed that the great Lisbon earthquake occurred along the Azores- Gilbratar fracture zone (AGFZ). AGFZ marks the boundary of active tectonic interaction between the African and the Eurasian plates. This is an active seismic region where large earthquakes occur with frequency." -George Pararas-Carayannis, Director of the International Tsunami Information Center (ITIC) "The Great Lisbon Earthquake and Tsunami of 1 November 1755". Retrieved July 15, 2005.  Paul.h 16 July 2005 00:49 (UTC)
Also it would be nice to have a reference for this statement: "Some geologists have suggested that the earthquake may indicate the early development of an Atlantic subduction zone, and the beginning of the closure of the Atlantic ocean." Without a reference, I believe this, too, should be removed from the article.

Colonial ambitions[edit]

Great article! One line in the header I would have liked to see more of, though, is the claim that the quake disrupted Portugal's colonial ambitions. This strikes me as entirely plausible, but I'd like to see a little more explanation of why (disruption of economy? Loss of fleet?) and what stage these colonial ambitions were at; since it's in the header, it would nice to have a bit of follow-up. Again, nice work and a very interesting read... --Dvyost 23:57, 16 July 2005 (UTC)

The earthquake and international aid[edit]

The UK government of the time voted some money for the relief of the situation. Did others governments/groups also do so- and were there earlier examples of international disaster relief?

Tens of minutes[edit]

I was never able to find out how long after the earthquake the tsunami struck, but I know it wasn't "several" minutes (as in five or ten minutes after the quake). Was it 30 minutes? 40 minutes? 50 minutes? I just don't know. But it was a decent interval, and that's the origin of the awkward "tens of minutes" phrase. While I know "several minutes after" reads better, it reinforces the false assumption that the tsunami happened almost immediately after the quake. Sandover 19:25, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

A few suggestions...[edit]

Excellent article, editors, no wonder it's a Featured Article! I have just passed this article for inclusion in Wikipedia:Version 0.5 as part of the Featured Article review.

While this article is in very good shape, I do notice a few things that could be done to improve it.

  • Use inline citations. They allow people to easily learn more about a certain fact in the article. For a book source, mention the page(s) as well.
  • Mention more about the impact outside of Lisbon. If the tsunami was 20 meters high, it obviously caused immense destruction where it hit, so embellish more upon this if sources exist.
  • You mention that animals seemed to sense the earthquake was going to happen. Some context on this phenomenon would be helpful to the unfamiliar reader.

Again, keep up the good work! -Runningonbrains 22:46, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

Brooks book[edit]

Good article, but I find one citation of a book therein that seems to not exist. The Charles B. Brooks book from 1994 titled: "Disaster at Lisbon, The Great Earthquake of 1755" is not found anywhere in my search except for a short listing at Barnes and Noble web site. The publisher was Brooks House, which I also do not find. Sounds like a self published book that only the Library of Congress would have a copy of. And no, I did not find the book listed at, either. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Handel8 (talkcontribs).

The book definitely exists, and it is present in my university's library catalogue. If you like, I can verify its physical existence tomorrow. But I see no reason to doubt it. -- Rbellin|Talk 04:34, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
I have physically confirmed the book's existence. It has no apparent ISBN, and is obviously from a small press, but to all appearances (on quick perusal, not thorough reading) it is a reasonable book-length narrative history of the quake. It has a very extensive bibliography, which might make it a particularly useful reference. -- Rbellin|Talk 20:56, 31 October 2006 (UTC)

That is all very nice, but for the rest of us, the book does not exist for all intents and purposes. If the press run of this was very small and has no ISBN, that indicates to me it was purely a vanity publication. A little like you or me writing a book and getting someone local to print a hundred crude copies to be sold at speaking events. If the book is as good as you say, the least the author could do at this point would be to offer it through Amazon as a download, which they do for many books that are out of print. I for one would be interested in the contents of this book. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs).

I don't know what purpose further discussion of this book serves. Wikipedia is not the place to communicate your advice to the author. Perhaps interested readers could visit the Library of Congress or the six other institutions which OCLC WorldCat lists as holding a copy. -- Rbellin|Talk 04:00, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

Numbers: Source?[edit]

Of a Lisbon population of 275,000, up to 90,000 were killed?!

The total population of Lisbon in 1755 is estimated in about 100 000 habitants. [2]

This numbers came from where?! Need source.

GPC 13:57, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

Is this your source? I followed your link, but don't read Portuguese. All I could find was a statistic for 1551:
Nessa época, Lisboa passa dos 60 mil habitantes (em 1422) para os 85 mil em (1528), atingindo os 100 mil em 1551, dos quais 7 mil seriam estrangeiros residentes ou de passagem (Ferreira, 1981. 464).
I'm betting the population of Lisbon grew between 1551 and 1755. I don't remember the source of that 275,000 population number (or the 90,000 death statistic), and I'm fairly sure it was here by the time I began editing. The approximate population and death toll have remained stable on this site for a couple years, without objection -- that doesn't mean it's accurate, of course. Although the Portuguese Wikipedia site also uses these numbers, without adequate citation, there also seems to be an alternate source suggesting a smaller figure of 30,000 casualties. Good luck sorting it all out.
Sandover 17:58, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

Only a fool can believe in such numbers. The correct number lies between 10 000 to 15 000. Ponder the numbers carefully.

This error will persist for a long time as it continues to reproduce... The latest reproduction I know is from ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA ALMANAC 2008 wich states Magnittude: 8.7 (fair enough) victims: 70 000 (today 10 000 to 15 000 is not "a lot" so I guess people just come out with a number that impresses enough, I don't know. But I know this: it's just a shameless lucky number that they throw in the air. GC —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:43, 17 October 2008 (UTC)

Read this: They say the estimated 3,000 dead in the grave were victims of the earthquake that devastated Lisbon in 1755, and that this is the first mass grave of its kind ever found in the Portuguese capital (

Now think about where to buried 90 000... Don't you think that many mass graves will exist. The more you think about it the more you'll see how ridiculous are those childish numbers. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:49, 17 October 2008 (UTC)

Most of the victims were buried at sea, according to what I've read. -- Avenue (talk) 02:29, 2 November 2008 (UTC)
I've added an apparently sober source that gives an estimated death toll, based on parish records before and after 1755, and a summary of the range of numbers claimed by various sources (10,000 to 100,000 fatalities). They also discuss some reasons for the substantial uncertainty. -- Avenue (talk) 00:58, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

Naming discussion at Talk:Basel earthquake[edit]

I'm currently involved in a discusssion at Talk:Basel earthquake over what the article should be called. I argue that based on the literature, and articles like this one, it should be called 1356 Basel earthquake (the original title before it was moved to Basel earthquake). Has there been discussion here on what the name of this featured article should be? Any input over there would be appreciated, as well as any help to expand the article. Thanks. Carcharoth 02:36, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

PS. I've made the redirect Great Lisbon Earthquake, and added this alternative name to the lead section. Carcharoth 02:41, 30 December 2006 (UTC)


First, the coma and the point are decimal separators. For easy reading, one must use a space not a coma nor a point. See BIPM or ISO.

About the population of Lisbon in 1755: Taking 60 000 in 1422 and 85 000 in 1528 we get about 176 000. In 1755 the population of Lisbon was about 176 000. The tragedy (earthquake, tsunami and fire) kill about 12 000. (I am searching suitable web references. You shoud do it too. Harvard is a good place to start (they have many original documents about it). It's not easy. As it's not easy to find that the name of Alves dos Reis was in fact Alves Reis because everybody puts "dos". And I mean everybody. And yet...) These are the numbers. All the rest is imagination and blind bets.

To discart the 275 000 as the population number, it is enough to look at the present numbers of cities population. (Not even Porto as that population [3] ) To discart numbers of victims like 90 000 it is enough to have comum sense. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Gil Costa (talkcontribs).

Regarding the commas, please see Wikipedia's Manual of Style: they are perfectly acceptable, and generally help English readability. Also please note that deductions from "common sense" and present population numbers are unacceptable here, as they consitute original research. Since I didn't write this portion of the article, I don't know the source that was used, and a reference would be good to have, but I see no immediate reason to doubt that the number came from a historian's researched and published account. -- Rbellin|Talk 02:00, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
I've added a source for somewhat different numbers, as noted above. -- Avenue (talk) 00:58, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

Bury the dead...[edit]

Apparently the author of this famous phrase was D. Pedro de Almeida, Marquês de Alorna!


7 Avisos, decretos reais e providências

Na sequência do terramoto o governo português tomou de imediato uma série de medidas com vista a minorar os inúmeros problemas surgidos, cujo pragmatismo está bem evidenciado na célebre afirmação: 'enterrar os mortos, cuidar dos vivos e fechar os portos', proferida por D. Pedro de Almeida, Marquês de Alorna, mas com frequência atribuída ao Secretario de Estado dos Negócios Estrangeiros e da Guerra, Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, futuro Marquês de Pombal.

Missing or dead?[edit]

The entry on The Book of the Damned claims a perhaps supernatural disappearance of several hundred people from a shelter, found in 2006. It appears to be a reference to this [4], however the story is a rather more straightforward discovery of a mass grave. Can anyone shed any light? MartinSFSA (talk) 13:30, 8 June 2008 (UTC)

Earthquake magnitude[edit]

Intro states ' Geologists today estimate the Lisbon earthquake approached magnitude 9 on the Richter scale...'. Should there be a reference for this? Especially as the page on the Richter magnitude scale says the effective limit of measurement is about 6.8. (talk) 22:04, 11 October 2009 (UTC)

Virtual recreation of the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake[edit]

A group of researchers associated with the University of Évora has been developing for the past 5 years a virtual recreation of Lisbon just before the 1755 earthquake (a project of virtual archeology), with several links to further documentation related to the architecture and culture of Baroque Lisbon, as well as pointers to more research done around the earthquake which is not mentioned in this Wiki page. This link has featured on this page on the past, but due to successive revisions, it was deleted.

I'll leave it here on the discussion page as a proposal for inclusion:

--Gwyneth Llewelyn (talk) 19:03, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

Use of some of the article's text in a book[edit]

Interestingly, at least one paragraph of this article appears practically verbatim in a published book: The Illustrated History of Natural Disasters By Jan Kozák, Vladimir Cermák: (starting from "[Many of] of Lisbon's buildings were destroyed, including famous palaces and libraries, as well as most examples of Portugal's distinctive 16th-century Manueline architecture ...). However, the book is dated 2010, while this paragraph has been in the article since 2005, and has been gradually edited over time - while the text in the book corresponds to its current (2010) version. So most likely it is the book authors who have copied the text from here. -- Vmenkov (talk) 04:45, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Dead link[edit]

During several automated bot runs the following external link was found to be unavailable. Please check if the link is in fact down and fix or remove it in that case!

--JeffGBot (talk) 21:58, 1 June 2011 (UTC)


In the infobox, why is the epicenter said to be Lisbon, when in fact it was over 200 miles away from that city? João Sousa (talk) 09:29, 11 November 2011 (UTC)

Do we really need the bit about Assassin's Creed?[edit]

The in popular culture section, I mean really, do we need it? Dbrodbeck (talk) 23:22, 30 March 2015 (UTC)

I removed the content because it's not encyclopedic. Thanks, Dawnseeker2000 23:34, 30 March 2015 (UTC)

Reference to red-light district has no evidence, possibly fabricated.[edit]

This reddit thread discusses the offending sentence. On July 26, 2012, an anonymous user added the sentence "Most philosophers rejected that on the grounds that the Alfama, Lisbon's red-light district, suffered only minor damage." in the "Effect on society and philosophy" section, referring to claims of divine origins of the earthquake. The redditor Tychocelchuuu and I were unable to find any references to this claim, except for articles that use this wikipedia page as a source. I suspect then that this claim was manufactured by the anonymous commentator, and I will thus remove it. My apologies for not doing this 7 months ago when I discovered the error - I hope not too many others have been spreading this claim! Treating phimosis (talk) 01:15, 21 June 2016 (UTC)