Great Lisbon Quake
Taken from The Astrology of the Macrocosm
by Joan McEvers (ed.), Diana K Rosenberg, pages 338-340
November 1, 1775: Lisbon, thriving port and capital of Portugal, teemed with activity: At the harbor, work gangs unloaded vessels at the magnificent new gray marble Cays de Prada; merchants argued loudly over prices; noisy children dodged bellowing stevedores; but the exquisitely clad aristocracy were not part of the crowd. It was All Sait'sDay and Lisbon's six magnificent cathedrals were packed with kneeling worshippers. At 9:20 in the huge Basilica de Sao Vincente de Fora, the chant of the introit had just begun ...
A rolling, swaying surge ground marble and timbers together; like a ship in a storm the great church groaned and heaved, and then crumbled, its huge stones crushing the congregation. ...
For a relentless three-and-one-half minutes, a terrible violence shattered Lisbon; gigantic fissures 15 feet wide ripped through the center of the city. As after shocks heaved and rumbled, choking dust rose from more than 18,000 collapsed buildings. Fire licked, then roared through the ruins.
In the first two minutes, 30,000 died.
The terrified survivors rushed to open space of the docks for safety ... they stared at the ocean in stunned fascination as the water receded and the sea floor lay revealed, a litter of lost cargo and old shipwrecks. Suddenly someone screamed a warning but it was too late. The withdrawnocean had coiled and roared up into a huge wall of water, rushing to engulf them. In a moment, 20,000 more were gone.
The proud Basilica de Santa Maria, Sao Paulo, Santa Catarina, Sao Vincente de Fora, The Misericordia---all had become rubble of carved stone grave piles for thousands.....hundreds of patients in the Hospital Real burned to death. Out of a city of 230,000, about 90,000 were dead (another 10,000 were killed across the Mediterranean in Morocco); 85% of the city's buildings were destroyed, including all of Lisbon's magnificent museums and libraries. The king's palace, housing a 70,000-volume library and hundreds of priceless works of art, including paintings by Titan, Rubens, and Coreggio, burned to the ground.
As the stunned survivors desperately tried to save their families, priests of the inquisition roamed the ruins rounding up innocent people, dubbing them "heretics" and hanging them on the spot for angering God ...
The shock waves of the Lisbon Earthquake were felt over 1,300,000 square miles through Europe and North Africa, and tidal waves up to 60 feet high hit a vast areas stretching from Finland to North Africa and across the Atlantic to Martinique and Barbados. Vesuvius, which had been in eruption, abruptly stopped! There were no recording instruments in 1755, let alone a Richter scale, but modern experts have estimated that the Great Lisbon Earthquake may have been an incredible magnitude 9.