The Lisbon Earthquake (1755)

von by Jürgen Wilke Original aufOriginal in German, angezeigt aufdisplayed in EnglischEnglish
PublishedErschienen: 2017-12-19
    PrintDrucken E-mailE-mail XML MetadataXML Metadaten   

    The earthquake that laid waste to Portugal's capital city Lisbon on 1 November 1755 shook the West as severely as almost no other earthquake has before or since. This was not only because of the immense destruction it caused and the tens of thousands of lives it claimed, but because the event also affected European thinking over the long term by undermining the philosophical optimism of the Enlightenment, the belief in divine providence and the conviction of living in the best of all possible worlds. This earthquake initiated a sustained discourse on catastrophe with a broad resonance in the printed media, philosophy, literature and art. The event also imprinted itself on later perceptions of earthquakes and natural disasters up to the present.

    InhaltsverzeichnisTable of Contents

    The event

    On 1 November 1755, a Sunday and the Feast of All Saints, an earthquake shook the Portuguese capital , then Europe's fourth-largest city, around 9:30 a.m. local time.1 The epicentre (fault in the Earth's crust) was located about 200 kilometres away off the coast in the sea. After the first quake, two more tremors followed minutes apart, then a huge wave (tsunami) arose, pressing with force into the mouth of the River Tejo and flooding parts of the inner city. Within a quarter of an hour, thousands of buildings, churchesConvento do Carmo, Lissabon, monasteries, palaces and homes collapsed. Raging fires ignited by candles and fireplaces devastated the city and a dust cloud blocked out the sun. The earthquake claimed numerous lives, their number being estimated from 20,000 to 60,000.

    Reconstructing the earthquake has been attempted using the means of modern seismological research and computer simulations.2 Its strength was classified at 8.5–9 on the Richter scale but this score cannot be retroactively verified with precision because the Richter scale was only introduced in 1935 as a measurement tool for earthquakes. In any case, the tremors and their consequences were not limited to Lisbon in 1755 but were felt in many other parts of Europe and even in and . There are several geoscientific hypotheses and models of the underlying tectonic faulting but it is difficult to choose amongst them due to the gaps in recorded observations. However, conclusions can be drawn on the course of the tsunami wave, for which there are well-substantiated reports from several locations.

    News of the event

    Whoever was not killed by the earthquake in Lisbon became an eyewitness on location to the devastating event and its consequences. People outside the city were dependent on informants who related their impressions directly by means of verbal or written communications and indirectly using formal means of communication. Five days after the disaster, the Gazeta de Lisboa, the only (weekly) newspaper published at that time in Portugal, printed the first news of the events.3 The publisher and the print shop had apparently survived the earthquake without harm:

    The first day of this month will be remembered through the centuries because of the earthquakes and the fire that destroyed a large part of this city. Fortunately, the coffers of the royal treasury and also those of many private individuals were recovered from the ruins.4

    This first report already foresaw the after-effects of the event. Initially, it was impossible to find out more details, whether on the course of events, the number of victims, rescue efforts or the situation of the survivors. Not much more was to be gleaned in the following week from the paper's next edition. There was "almost total silence" in the country's press.5 This can be explained by the Gazeta de Lisboa (founded in 1715) being under the control of official censorship and privileged by the king. As was also customary at that time in other countries under such circumstances, the paper preferred to publish news from other countries (especially in Europe), while domestic events were largely screened out. Consequently, the Gazeta de Lisboa reported in subsequent weeks more on the earthquake's consequences in and other, smaller Portuguese towns. On the whole, reporting remained rather modest.

    Spain, because of its physical proximity, was the country which news of the Lisbon earthquake reached first. Within a week, letters to this effect received in became known there and were soon printed as "Relaciones".6 The news then spread from there.

    The news made its way both by land and by seaEuropäische Postkurse 1563 IMG. It travelled by boat from Lisbon to , with mounted messengers from Madrid to and as well as to , from where it was carried across the Mediterranean to . Three weeks after the earthquake, the first report arrived in where it was printed in the Gazette on 22 November 1755.7 The news also arrived at the same time in England, where it could be read that very day in the Whitehall Evening News.8 Another week passed until it became known in Northern and : On 2 December 1755, the first reports were printed in the Hamburgischer unpartheyischer Correspondent (HuC) and the Berlinische Nachrichten von Staats- und Gelehrten Sachen (BN). These were reports from Madrid: reading news directly from Lisbon still called for patience.

    As news of the Lisbon earthquake arrived in intervals of several weeks, all the premonitions for which there had been clear signs beforehand turned out to be true. The seismic effects, including aftershocks, were felt in many places in Europe as well as in North Africa and across the Atlantic. First, strange movements were noticed in the sea and in wells, while extensions of the tremors were felt in the ground. The readers of the Hamburgischer unpartheyischer Correspondent had heard this first on 8 November from .9 Whether this event was caused by an earthquake was still unknown according to the reporter but the unknown turned into certainty over subsequent weeks.

    Movements of the earth were reported in German papers as well as those elsewhere in Europe. The Gazette de Cologne reported on 7 November 1755 a tremor from , the Gazette d'Utrecht one from , others followed from other locations.10 Though the damage was mostly minor or non-existent, the events caused fear and anxiety. In this atmosphere of uncertainty, people finally received news of what had actually happened in Lisbon. That reporting went somewhat contrary to the chronology and causality of the events was due to the great distances between the locations of newspaper publication and the capital. It took weeks for news to arrive due to the physical distance. Thus, news of the earth tremors and their consequences arrived sooner in places closer to the events than at the more remote centre of the quake itself. As a result, reports of events in Lisbon did not reach newspaper readers completely unprepared.

    To the extent that the carriers of the reports were mentioned, they were diplomats and delegates or representatives of merchant companies, known as negociants. As Portugal had risen in the 15th century to become a great seafaring and trading nation, it maintained close economic ties to Germany, France, England and the Netherlands, which is reflected by the reports from Lisbon. They informed their home offices of the damage incurred and triggered crashes at the exchanges as a result.

    The extent of reporting

    After the first newspaper accounts of the earthquake in Lisbon, the topic remained a sustained subject of reporting for weeks and even months. This makes it possible to speak of a "media event" that received much attention. It particularly applies to German newspapers, for in the 18th century nowhere could as many papers be found as in the . The already cited Hamburgischer unpartheyischer Correspondent may serve as a model.11 Until the end of January 1756, every issue of this paper contained a report on the earthquake in Lisbon. It was similar with the Berlinischen Nachrichten von Staats- und Gelehrten Sachen. Since the volume of reporting has been determined quantitatively for these papers, this will be illustrated here. The number of lines separated according to reports on the Lisbon earthquake itself (or actions associated with it) and reports on earthquakes elsewhere are shown.

    Reports on the Lisbon earthquake

    Reports on the earthquake in other places

    Sum

    HuC

    BN

    HuC

    BN

    HuC

    BN

    November

    1755

    -

    -

    80

    86

    80

    86

    December

    1755

    1502

    626

    367

    300

    1869

    929

    January

    1756

    276

    601

    288

    518

    564

    1119

    February

    1756

    80

    209

    226

    158

    306

    367

    March

    1756

    123

    158

    55

    173

    178

    331

    Sum

    1981

    1594

    1016

    1325

    2993

    2819

    Table 1: The extent of earthquake reporting in the Hamburgischen unpartheyischen Correspondenten (HuC) and the Berlinischen Nachrichten von Staats- und Gelehrten Sachen (BN) 1755/1756 (in lines). Source: Wilke, Erdbeben 2008, p. 81.

    During the months from November 1755 to the end of March 1756, these two German papers reported very extensively and in almost equal amounts on the earthquakes. Almost 3,000 lines were dedicated to this purpose, a considerable amount since the papers merely consisted of four (quarto) folios on which there was only room for about 250 lines. No other event was as thoroughly discussed at that time.

    Newspaper readers at the turn of 1755/56 who purchased the papers examined here must have had the impression of a natural disaster drawn out over time. The events did not only occur in Portugal, but also in other countries or, at least, had consequences there. They were reported in Spain (, , ), (), (), (), , and Germany itself. It was not just a distant corner of Europe that was affected, but neighbouring regions as well.

    In England, the interest of the press grew as well after the first news from Lisbon had arrived and was sustained through to the spring of 1756. 61 issues of five newspapers included several reports from the disaster zone,12 significantly more than had been reported about five years previously on two – though only weak – tremors in February and March 1750 in itself. As for Spain, 68 special editions on the earthquake of Lisbon have been found from Seville alone, most still published in 1755, some in the next year and a few as late as 1757.13 Such "stragglers" were also published in Germany – a "collection of authentic letters" in the Hannoverisches Magazin even in 1779.14

    In the middle of the 18th century, France only had a few political papers, of which the Gazette, founded in 1633, was the most important. It was closely associated with the Court and until the mid-18th century was published only once a week, though the Gazette contained eight pages while the two cited German papers appeared twice a week and regularly consisted of four pages. Still, the two-column German newspaper pages contained more material than the French paper, which was printed with full justification.

    These differences in appearance and volume of the papers required the Gazette to report less on the earthquake of Lisbon. In fact, from late November 1755 to late March 1756, a mere 510 lines were printed on the earthquake in its issues. The German papers published about five to six times as many reports on the events as the French Gazette. Or, seen another way: The French were able to find out far less in their paper than their German contemporaries were. This concerned both the events in Lisbon and the effects in other parts of the world. Both were covered by the Gazette but far fewer details were published on what was happening in Lisbon. News on other earthquakes, in part also from other countries, was only occasionally inserted. Thus, much could be read in the Gazette on earth tremors in North Africa. Reporting in the Gazette was more limited both overall and in detail. It was kept in the style of modern "short notices" without providing background or even interpretation.15 The paper did not adapt its terse style to the catastrophic events. The empathy occasionally expressed in German papers was also missing. Therefore, one cannot speak of a "media event" in the Gazette as one can in the German press.

    If one looks at the extensive reporting on earthquakes and related natural phenomena between November 1755 and March 1756, the question arises to what extent this presentation was objectively related to the events or subjectively to journalistic news selection, which preferred such events. For one, it cannot be doubted that earth tremors – apart from Lisbon for the moment – also occurred in other places in Europe.16 For another, it can be suggested that the Lisbon earthquake functioned as a "key event" in reporting. This is defined as an event that directs attention to similar occurrences and results in more being reported about them than if the triggering event had not occurred. Numerous later reports announce earthquakes and water movements without significant damage having arisen. Some even explicitly note the latter fact. It is safe to assume they would not have become news without the preceding key event.

    Consequently, events in Lisbon led the way in increased reporting of other events of this kind. Aspects of their reporting even seem to have been added from the imagination. Nevertheless, subsequent earthquakes occurred, in particular the two quakes of 9 and 26 December 1755 and another on 18 February 1756, which were reported independently of each other from different locations in . The first was reported from Southwest Germany and Switzerland (, , , ); the next from the region between the and the Maas (, , , , ), and the third from the (Lower) Rhine (, Düren, Cologne) and Central Germany (). Occasionally, the key event contributed to making most strange "observations", even optical illusions, appear credible. Relevant reports fit the tradition of cosmological apparitions and visions, which were reflected in the numerous pamphlets and writings on comets and celestial phenomena. Naturally, earthquake reporting also affected the primary communications of humans as is evident from individual reports.17

    Contents of reporting

    Already the first reports appearing on 2 December 1755 in the Hamburgischer unpartheyischer Correspondent painted a drastic picture of the "terrible circumstances" of the earthquake in Lisbon. Half of the royal residence, all churches and the royal palace had allegedly collapsed. Fires and the huge tidal wave in the Tejo also contributed to the destruction. The number of inhabitants killed was stated to be 50,000, a third of the city's entire population.

    While people waited for more details, first reactions were reported from other cities in Europe. For one, from Amsterdam and London opinions were heard on the prospective negative consequences of the disaster, a "shaking of the commercio" in trade.18 For another, help and support were offered very quickly. The British king wanted to make £50,000 available, the Spanish king eleven times 100,000 piastres19 and Hamburg decided to send two ships with material aid to Portugal.20

    Gradually, the German papers provided their readers with more details on the events in Lisbon (and elsewhere). But regular reports from Portugal only began to appear about the end of December. The damage and the need of the survivors stood in the foreground but the fate of the royal family was also told: It had survived but suffered deprivations.21 The social order was shaken, thefts and looting were reported, with captured perpetrators being immediately hung from the gallows. As time progressed, reports from Lisbon also began to talk of the start of reconstruction in the Portuguese capital, in which the Marquis de Pombal (1699–1782) stood out as a brilliant planer and organizerStadtplan von Lissabon, 1785.

    Papers of the 17th and 18th centuries wanted to inform their readers objectively and, therefore, followed a journalistic standard of quality. Commenting was not their intention, readers were supposed to form their own opinions. In this way, newspapers contributed little to the discourse on catastrophe and, thus, to the interpretation of the event in terms of history and historical philosophy. Still, indicators can be found in some: For example, the Berlinische Nachrichten reported on 21 January 1756 that some people in London saw the earthquake as an omen of the comet that had been announced by the astronomer Edmond Halley (1656–1742) for 1758 and was later named after him.

    Theological and metaphysical interpretations predominated over scientific explanations. The earthquake appeared – as already quoted – as divine punishment, an opinion that was proclaimed in particular by the Portuguese inquisitor Gabriel Malagrida (1689–1761), of whose penitential sermons and complaints/ accusations people were also informed. Biblical allusions to the destruction of Jerusalem were quoted, prophecies of doom, and the looming Day of Judgement being near were repeatedly circulated, and scapegoats for the earthquake were sought and saddled with the responsibility.22

    The catastrophe discourse in the press, literature, theology and philosophy

    In 1755/1756, newspapers largely limited themselves to reporting the events but permitted, as has already been shown, some hypotheses on the causes of the process and primarily theological interpretations to creep in. More detailed treatises on this aspect started to appear in the spring of 1756. In Spain, several treatises discussed the physical, philosophical and religious aspects of the earthquake.23 In England, several dozen pamphlets were published, with the lion's share consisting of sermons and theological treatises.24 In them, the earthquake was interpreted as a "Catholic catastrophe",25 especially as punishment for the Inquisition, which was active in Portugal. This relativised its significance for British Protestants, particularly because so few Englishmen had died on location. However, the event was also understood as a warning to one's own population. The same could happen to London if the sinful life continued there. Following the mild London earthquake of 1750, the English press discussed scientific explanations and various theories but there was no such talk now.26

    In France, apart from the Gazette, scientific and literary journals published in longer intervals and almanacs discussed the earthquake.27 A narrative and a reflective discourse appeared in them.28 For example, Jansenists explained the catastrophe with the Portuguese King João III (1502–1557) allowing the Jesuits back into the country.29 Others argued politically and considered the event an unforeseen opportunity for Portugal to liberate itself from its dependence on England.

    Based on the received information, a discourse arose across Europe on the causes and meaning of the catastrophe of Lisbon. Theologians stood before the problem of justifying why the Christian God would allow such a misfortune to happen and how this could be reconciled with divine providence in the history of humanity.30 Philosophers, poets and writers, too, felt moved to contemplate the events. A contemporary reviewer stated in 1756 "[t]hat earthquakes are great plagues, as illuminated by the great quantity of bad writing that they produce in all parts from the ground and over which in recent years many a press has sighed".31

    Numerous, often unnamed poets composed odes on the earthquake in which they sang about the event. The first works were published as New Year's poems in various publications at the turn of 1755 to 1756. They usually followed a rather schematic structure that starts with an evocation of the rather splendid city existing before the misfortune, then describe the earthquake in several phases and finish with a "memento mori" as the moral conclusion.32

    Voltaire (1694–1778), who was then living in exile in Geneva, used the natural disaster as the occasion for a debate on fundamentals. In his didactic work "Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne ou Examen de cet axiome 'Tout es bien'" (1756), of which 20 editions appeared in the same year,33 he laid out the optimistic theses of the Enlightenment in 250 poetic verses.34 Especially Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) in his "Essai de théodicée" (1710) and Alexander Pope (1688–1744) in his Essay on Man (1733/1734) had previously espoused this world view. Voltaire intended to reduce this type of thought ad absurdum. He wrote his satirical novel Candide ou l'Optimisme (1759) with the same intention. In this book, the naive hero together with his teacher Doctor Pangloss, both adherents of philosophical optimism, have absurd experiences and are drawn into the maelstrom of the earthquake of Lisbon. Nevertheless, they remain determined to hold fast to their opinions.

    Voltaire caused a stir in Europe, provoking several authors to counter him with refutations. Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712–1787) held urban construction responsible for the multitude of residents having died in Lisbon. Man is subject to the objective laws of nature from which he cannot detach himself.35 The German "Anti-Candide" of Justus Möser (1720–1794), which was directed against Voltaire, remained only a fragment.36 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)[Johann Wolfgang Goethe in der Campagna 1787 IMG], looking back after many decades in his autobiography Poetry and Truth, spoke of how the composure he had enjoyed as a six-year old in Frankfurt had been shaken by the earthquake in Lisbon,37 but other contemporary German authors were not deprived of their optimistic worldview.38

    Immanuel Kant (1724–1804)[Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) IMG] reacted with three essays to the Lisbon earthquake.39 Two of these he published in his local intelligencer (advertiser), the Königsbergische wöchentliche Frag- und Anzeigungsnachrichten ("On the Causes of the Earthquakes on the Occasion of the Calamity that befell the Western Countries of Europe towards the End of Last Year", "Continued Observations of the Terrestrial Convulsions that have been Perceived for Some Time"). A third was a stand-alone publication because of its greater volume ("History and Description of the Nature of the peculiar events of the earthquake that shook a large part of the Earth at the end of the 1755th year"). Kant, who had only just published his Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens (1755), did not just speak as a (natural) philosopher in his earthquake treatises but also provided a sober account of the earthquake. He apparently relied on press reports for this purpose. He reflected and weighed the then circulating scientific interpretations and favoured a chemical explanation.40 Though he rejected metaphysical speculations, man's position relative to the laws of nature, on which he was dependent, occupied him very much. In thorough, Kant laid a foundation stone of scientific earthquake research, which received a strong impetus from the events in Lisbon.

    Visualisation of the earthquake

    The engagement with the Lisbon earthquake was not limited to writings in print but also extended to visual representations.41 The spectacular events were presented visually to viewers in the form of event graphics. However, by the mid-18th century, the illustrated "Newen Zeytungen" [New Tidings] had largely been displaced by periodicals, which did entirely without illustrations. Numerous images of the earthquake were produced even though the older medium, which seemed predestined for the illustrated visualisation of such events, had fallen by the wayside. These were mostly copper engravings or wood cuts that were either reproduced in larger printed writings or illustrated them. Today, the most impressive corpus of these images is readily accessible in the Collection of Historical Earthquakes assembled by Jan Kozák (1921–1995) at the University of California in Berkeley.42

    The images can be divided into three main groups that offer an iconography of the event.43 A first group comprises images that show the moment of destruction, snapshots in a manner of speaking, and do not focus on individual buildings, "but … show the city as a panorama usually seen from the water: the churning sea in the foreground frames the buildings as they collapse in the urban panorama."44 A second group includes representations "that attempt to reproduce this moving and telling chaos of a quaking city and strive for an adequate expression of the processual not-yet and no longer".45 Images of ruins form the third groupLissabon nach dem Erdbeben 1755. People are at most seen in the foreground as small staffage, they function in a sense as eyewitnesses and stand in for the observer outside the image who can identify with them. In a number of cases, "old" Lisbon was contrasted with destroyed Lisbon.

    Many artists put little effort into the artistic quality of their images but it is still impressive how dramatically they visualised the earthquake. For one, the objective was to capture the terror of the events and trigger strong emotions, not least with the aim of selling these images. Due to their emotional content, they can be viewed as the precursors of modern disaster images that aim to cause empathy and solidarity with the depicted victims.46 For another, the visual representations were by no means authentic because hardly any engraver or carver would have been an eyewitness to the events. At most, they could lean on verbal reports or had to imagine the event in another way. The objective was to sate human curiosity and voyeurism, especially among those who were not (yet) able to read the reports.

    Since producing a copper engraving required more time than writing a report, images were often only created in the following years. More ambitious artists also turned to this subject. Thus, the French copper engraver Jacques-Philippe Le Bas (1707–1783) presented in 1757 a graphic series of six sheets on the earthquake in Lisbon, which rapidly became popular and was repeatedly reproduced (Recueil des plus belles ruines de Lisbonne causées par le tremblement et par le feu du premier Novembre 1755).

    Le Bas had never been to the Portuguese capital in person. He probably used earlier works of local provenance but also took his own artistic licence.47 According to Jörg Trempler (born 1970), Le Bas' image cycle constitutes "the actual hour of birth of catastrophe images".48 As he explains, the term "catastrophe", which is derived from theatre language, only begun to be applied to natural phenomena of certain kinds since the mid-18th century. Seen in this way, the graphics do not depict real "catastrophes" but only define the illustrated processes first as such and make them perceptible. Consequently, it was the graphics of the Lisbon earthquake that founded the tradition of the catastrophe image in European art history and later were taken up in other formats, such as paintings and eventually photography.

    The peep box is among the many optical inventions with which the 17th and 18th centuries attempted to satisfy the human need for visualisation and that can be considered precursors of modern visual mass media. It consisted of a box made of wood at the front of which a round opening with a lens or a glass insert was applied.49 Images, which the observer was able to see through the opening and that related a living, even three-dimensional and figurative impression, were inserted into the peep box. In Augsburg, a major centre for the production of peep box images, the resident copper engraver Martin Engelbrecht (1684–1756) produced sets in series (perspective theatre).50 His perspective theatre series consisted of six to seven copper engravings respectively that were arranged in sequence and so produced a special depth effect.

    Engelbrecht also made the earthquake of Lisbon a subject of the perspective theatre around 1760. In seven coloured copper engravings, he illustrated various episodes of the event that offered a very lively, even captivating image. Collapsing columns and structural supports frame the image; the buildings, a church tower and a vault, are in the midst of caving in. A few fleeing people can also be made out who gesticulate ecstatically or attempt to save each other's lives. This imagined version of the Lisbon earthquake was meant for presentation at annual fairs – as was customary for peep boxes. This was a medium employed for popularisation, and a precursor of film and television, it made the event tangible even to those who could not read or sought a complementary visual perspective.

    After-effects of the earthquake of Lisbon

    The Lisbon earthquake effected more than an intensive discourse on catastrophe in the 18th century. It has continued to exercise its effect on Europe's collective memory to this day. The events of Lisbon repeatedly served as the reference point for later earthquakes and natural disasters. For example, this was the case in 1883 during the eruption of the volcanic island [Versteinerte Lava des Krakatoa auf Java, 1885] the Sunda Strait between and .51 Already on 23 May of that year, the volcanic eruption announced itself with an explosion. On 27 August, the plate tectonics, which are particularly dangerous in that part of the world, triggered the actual eruption and doomed the islandKrakatau, Indonesien, Evolution Map. The resulting tidal wave circled the globe several times and the resulting flood wave had fatal consequences: 35,000 people lost their lives.

    The island of Krakatoa was much further away from Europe than Lisbon and so had less value as news. However, telegraphy had critically improved the conditions for reporting in technical terms. The reader of the London Times was able to read a notice of 15 words the day after the events of 23 May. The definitive volcanic eruption three months later quickly became known despite the telegraph lines themselves suffering from the eruptions and sea movements.

    Readers in Hamburg had to wait four weeks in 1755 for news from the earthquake in Lisbon but in 1883 readers of the still existing Hamburgischer Correspondent found out much faster about the volcanic eruption of Krakatoa. A telegram from Reuter's news agency served as the outrider in the paper's issue of 29 August. Just two days later, on 31 August, the newspaper published a long, detailed report on events in the Far East with background information on one of the world's largest volcanic regions. Furthermore, readers were informed that the tidal wave after an earthquake "very often…, as also with the historical catastrophe of Lisbon in 1755, [proves] far more devastating than the earthquake itself". This shows how strongly the earthquake of Lisbon was elevated into awareness again by the eruption of the Krakatoa. Its imprint as a key event had endured more than a century.

    The most recent comparable event was the tsunami wave unleashed in the Indian Ocean on 26 December 2004Tsunami 2004, which became the largest natural catastrophe in human memory though a discourse did not recognizably result from it as it had 250 years earlier after the Lisbon earthquake. As a unique media event, the tsunami surpassed all other, previous cases of medialisation of natural disasters52 because photography and television had been added as new means of representation.

    The tsunami wave of 2004 evoked memories of the Lisbon earthquake. The weekly Die Zeit illustrated its first report of the tsunami catastrophe on 30 December 2004 with a coloured wood cut of a one-page print by Georg Caspar Pflauntz of Augsburg, which shows Lisbon and the sea before the city at the moment of the earthquakeJohann Caspar Pflauntz, Erdbeben zu Lissabon, 1755. The news magazine Der Spiegel reproduced the same image53 in its edition of 3 January 2005. No other event created such a lasting shock to contemporaries as this one: "In far-away Königsberg, Immanuel Kant concluded on the occasion of the Lisbon earthquake that humans are not the sine qua non on Earth."54

    Die Zeit also featured a chronology of earlier tidal waves in a box that listed the Lisbon quake. What is remarkable is that this form of journalistic "memory" refers directly back to the reporting of 1755. Thus, the editor of the Hamburgischen unpartheyischen Correspondenten reflected on the frequency and memorability of such events already in the edition of 11 February 1756, in this way, confirming the earthquake's function as a "key event":

    There have been earthquakes and earth tremors for as long as the world has stood. Much news of this has been lost but ancient authors have also preserved much. Yet it appears that this natural event is felt more often in our present age in Europe than in previous ones. … It would appear that since 1750 more than 80 earthquakes have been reported in the region of Europe, with several having unfortunate consequences, although most only consisted of tremors that caused more fright than harm? Most people are such in nature that they pay little attention to a misfortune far away or even forget it soon if they were not affected. Only the novelty of the matter exercises their attention for some moments or days and perhaps the terrible earthquake of Lisbon will likewise be forgotten as soon as the large number of earthquakes of which we must remind you only since 1750.

    A list of earthquakes follows – as in Die Zeit 250 years later. In this way, journalistic practices are linked over the centuries. Also, for this reason, the editor would turn out to be wrong with his guess that the earthquake of Lisbon would perhaps be forgotten "as soon".

    Jürgen Wilke

    Appendix

    Sources

    [Anonymous]: Untitled, in: Hamburgischer unpartheyischer Correspondent of 09/12/1755, unpaginated.

    [Anonymous]: Untitled, in: Berlinische Nachrichten of 16/12/1755, p. 624.

    [Anonymous]: Untitled, in: Berlinische Nachrichten of 20/12/1755, p. 632.

    [Anonymous]: Untitled, in: Berlinische Nachrichten of 02/12/1755, pp. 601f.

    Evers, Marco / Koch, Julia / Lakotta, Beate / Stampf, Olaf / Traufetter, Gerald: Der bebende Planet, in: Der Spiegel 1 (2005), p. 110.

    Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von: Dichtung und Wahrheit, Stuttgart und Tübingen 1811, vol. 1.

    Wilms, Johannes: Unheil aus heiterem Himmel, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung 250 (29/30 October 2005), Wochenendbeilage, p. 4.

    Literature

    Baum, Constanze: Ruinen des Augenblicks: Die bildliche Repräsentation des Erdbebens von Lissabon im Kontext eines Ruinendiskurses im 18. Jahrhundert, in: Gerhard Lauer et al. (ed.): Das Erdbeben von Lissabon und der Katastrophendiskurs im 18. Jahrhundert, Göttingen 2008, pp. 134–147.

    Belo, André: Between History and Periodicity: Printed and Hand-Written News in the 18th-Century Portugal, in: E-Journal of Portuguese History 2, 2 (2004), pp. 1–11.

    Böning, Holger: Dem Bürger zur Information und Aufklärung: Die "Staats- und Gelehrte Zeitung des Hamburgischen unpartheyischen Correspondenten", in: Jahrbuch für Kommunikationsgeschichte 14 (2012), pp. 5–41.

    Braun, Theodore E. et al. (ed.): The Lisbon Earthquake of 1755: Representations and Reactions, Oxford 2005.

    Breidert, Wolfgang (ed.): Die Erschütterung der vollkommenen Welt: Die Wirkung des Erdbebens von Lissabon im Spiegel der europäischen Zeitgenossen, Darmstadt 1994.

    Dewitz, Bodo et al. (ed.): Ich sehe was, was du nicht siehst: Sehmaschinen und Bilderwelten: Die Sammlung Werner Nekes, Göttingen 2002 (Exhibition Catalog Museum Ludwig, Cologne).

    Dombois, Florian: Die versprochene Apokalypse: Kulturwissenschaftliche Notizen zum Erdbeben von Lissabon, in: Franz Eybl et al. (ed.): Elementare Gewalt: Kulturelle Bewältigung: Aspekte der Naturkatastrophe im 18. Jahrhundert, Vienna 2000, pp. 197–216.

    Dynes, Russel R.: The Dialogue between Voltaire and Rousseau on the Lisbon Earthquake: The Emergence of a Social Science View, in: International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters 18,1 (2000), pp. 97–115.

    Espejo Cala, Carmen: Spanish News Pamphlets on the 1755 Earthquake: Trade Strategies of the Printers of Seville, in: Theodore E. Braun et al. (ed.): The Lisbon Earthquake of 1755: Representations and Reactions, Oxford 2005, pp. 66–80.

    Fonseca, João Duarte: 1755: O Terramto de Lisboa / The Lisbon Earthquake, Lissabon 2004.

    Georgi, Matthias: The Lisbon Earthquake and Scientific Knowledge in the British Public Sphere, in: Theodore E. Braun et al. (ed.): The Lisbon Earthquake of 1755: Representations and Reactions, Oxford 2005, pp. 81–96.

    Georgi, Matthias: Das Erdbeben von Lissabon in der englischen Publizistik, in: Gerhard Lauer et al. (ed.): Das Erdbeben von Lissabon und der Katastrophendiskurs im 18. Jahrhundert, Göttingen 2008, pp.96–109.

    Georgi, Matthias: Christlicher Bedrohungsraum und protestantische Identität: Die englische Selbstwahrnehmung in der Debatte um das Erdbeben von Lissabon (1755), in: Joachim Eibach et al. (ed.): Europäische Wahrnehmungen 1650–1850: Interkulturelle Kommunikation über Medienereignisse, Hannover 2008, pp. 185–205.

    Georgi, Matthias: Heuschrecken, Erdbeben und Kometen: Naturkatastrophen und Naturwissenschaft in der englischen Öffentlichkeit des 18. Jahrhunderts, Munich 2009.

    Gisler, Monika: Optimismus und Theodizee: Votaires Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne und seine frühe Rezeption, in: Gerhard Lauer et al. (ed.): Das Erdbeben von Lissabon und der Katastrophendiskurs im 18. Jahrhundert, Göttingen 2008, pp. 230–243.

    Gouveia Deauville, Maria Manuela: Eine Briefinszenierung über das Erdbeben von Lissabon: Die Sammlung authentischer Briefe, veröffentlicht im Hannoverischen Magazin des Jahres 1779, in: Gerhard Lauer et al. (ed.): Das Erdbeben von Lissabon und der Katastrophendiskurs im 18. Jahrhundert, Göttingen 2008, pp. 53–74.

    Günther, Horst: Das Erdbeben von Lissabon erschüttert die Meinungen und setzt das Denken in Bewegung, Berlin 1994.

    Hamacher, Bernd: Strategien narrativen Katastrophenmanagements: Goethe und die "Erfindung" des Erdbebens von Lissabon, in: Lauer, Gerhard et al. (ed.): Das Erdbeben von Lissabon und der Katastrophendiskurs im 18. Jahrhundert, Göttingen 2008, pp. 162–172.

    James, Charles D. / Jan T. Kozak: Representations of the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake, in: Theodore E. Braun et al. (ed.): The Lisbon Earthquake of 1755: Representations and Reactions, Oxford 2005, pp. 21–33.

    Kendrick, Thomas D.: The Lisbon Earthquake, London 1956.

    Keßler, Martin: Das Erdbeben von Lissabon und die Frage nach Gottes Providenz in der Aufklärungstheologie, in: Mariano Delgado et al. (ed.): Gott in der Geschichte: Zum Ringen um das Verständnis von Heil und Unheil in der Geschichte des Christentums, Fribourg et al. 2013, pp. 351–407.

    Kopf, Achim: Die geologische Ursache des Mega-Erdbebens von Lissabon im Jahre 1755, in: Gerhard Lauer et al. (ed.): Das Erdbeben von Lissabon und der Katastrophendiskurs im 18. Jahrhundert, Göttingen 2008, pp. 188–202.

    Kozák, Jan / Victor S. Moreira / David R. Oldroyd: Iconography of the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake, Prague 2005; online: http://nisee.berkeley.edu/elibrary/browse/kozak?eq=5234 [18/12/2017].

    Kozák, Jan / Vladimir Čermak: The Illustrated History of Natural Disasters, Dordrecht etc. 2010.

    Lauer, Gerhard et al. (ed.): Das Erdbeben von Lissabon und der Katastrophendiskurs im 18. Jahrhundert, Göttingen 2008.

    Lingesleben, Tilman: Recueil des plus belles ruines de Lisbonne […] – Zur Rezeption des Lissabonner Erdbebens in einer Grafikfolge von Jacques-Philippe Le Bas, in: Christoph Frank et al. (ed.): Spanien und Portugal im Zeitalter der Aufklärung: Internationales Symposium der Carl Just-Vereinigung und des Forschungszentrums Europäische Aufklärung, Potsdam, 19–22 February 1998, Frankfurt am Main 2002, pp. 163–189.

    Lüsebrink, Hans-Jürgen: Le tremblement de terre de Lisbonne dans des périodiques français et allemands du XVIIIe siècle, in: Gazettes et Information politique sous l'Ancien Régime. Textes réunis par Henri Duranton et Pierre Rétat, St. Etienne 1999, pp. 303–311.

    Lütgert, Wilhelm: Die Erschütterung des Optimismus durch das Erdbeben von Lissabon: Ein Beitrag zur Charakteristik des Vorsehungsglaubens und ihres Überwinders Immanuel Kant, 2nd ed., Gütersloh 1924.

    Mendes-Victor, Luiz A. et al. (ed.): The 1755 Lisbon Earthquake Revisited, Dordrecht etc. 2009.

    Oeser, Erhard: Das Erdbeben von Lissabon im Spiegel der zeitgenössischen Philosophie, in: Franz Eybl et al. (ed.): Elementare Gewalt: Kulturelle Bewältigung: Aspekte der Naturkatastrophe im 18. Jahrhundert, Vienna 2000, pp. 185–195.

    Nozes, Judite: O terremoto de 1755: testemunhos Britânicos: The Lisbon Earthquake of 1755: British accounts, Lisboa 1990.

    Paice, Edward: Wrath of God: The Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755, London 2008.

    Quenet, Gregory: Les tremblements de terre en France aux 17e et 18e siècles: Une histoire sociale du risque, in: Traverse 3 (2003), pp. 87–99.

    Saada, Anne / Sgard, Jean: Tremblements dans la presse, in: Theodore E.D. Braun et al. (ed.): The Lisbon Earthquake of 1755: Representation and Reaction: Oxford 2005, pp. 208–224.

    Schneider, Götz: Erdbeben: Entstehung – Ausbreitung – Wirkung, Stuttgart 1975.

    Scholz, Tobias: Distanziertes Mitleid: Mediale Bilder, Emotionen und Solidarität angesichts von Katastrophen, Frankfurt etc. 2012.

    Schott, Friedrich: Der Augsburger Kupferstecher und Kunstverleger Martin Engelbrecht und seine Nachfolger, Augsburg 1924.

    Sztaba, Wojciech: Die Welt im Guckkasten: Fernsehen im achtzehnten Jahrhundert, in: Harro Segeberg (ed.): Die Mobilisierung des Sehens: Zur Vor- und Frühgeschichte des Films in Literatur und Kunst, Munich 1996, pp. 97–112, vol. 1: Mediengeschichte des Films.

    Tellez Alarcia, Diego: Spanish Interpretations of the Lisbon Earthquake between 1755 and the War of 1762, in: Theodore E.D. Braun et al. (ed.): The Lisbon Earthquake of 1755: Representation and Reaction, Oxford 2005, pp. 50–65.

    Tolkemitt, Brigitte: Der Hamburgische Correspondent: Zur öffentlichen Verbreitung von Aufklärung in Deutschland, Tübingen 1995.

    Trempler, Jörg: Katastrophen: Ihre Entstehung aus dem Bild, Berlin 2013.

    Udías, Agustin / López Arroyo, Alfonso: The Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 in Spanish Contemporary Authors, in: Luiz A. Mendes-Victor et al. (ed.): The 1755 Lisbon Earthquake Revisited, Dordrecht etc. 2009, pp. 7–24.

    Weber, Christoph: Glück im Unglück: Reaktionen deutschsprachiger Autoren auf das Erbeben in Lissabon am 1. November 1755, in: Gerhard Lauer et al. (ed.): Das Erdbeben von Lissabon und der Katastrophendiskurs im 18. Jahrhundert, Göttingen 2008, pp. 148–161.

    Weinrich, Harald: Literaturgeschichte eines Weltereignisses: Das Erdbeben von Lissabon, in: Weinrich, Harald (Hg.): Literatur für Leser: Essays und Aufsätze zur Literaturwissenschaft, Stuttgart etc. 1971, pp. 64–76.

    Wilke, Jürgen: Nachrichtenauswahl und Medienrealität in vier Jahrhunderten: Eine Modellstudie zur Verbindung historischer und empirischer Publizistikwissenschaft, Berlin, New York 1994.

    Wilke, Jürgen: "Daß der Jammer und das Elend mit keiner Feder zu beschreiben sey": Das Erdbeben von Lissabon 1755 als Schlüsselereignis in der Presseberichterstattung, in: Relation 3, 1 (1996), pp. 59–71.

    Wilke, Jürgen: Das Erdbeben von Lissabon als Medienereignis, in: Gerhard Lauer et al. (ed.): Das Erdbeben von Lissabon und der Katastrophendiskurs im 18. Jahrhundert, Göttingen 2008, pp. 75–95.

    Wilke, Jürgen: Historical Perspectives on Media Events: A Comparison of the Lisbon Earthquake in 1755 and the Tsunami Catastrophe in 2004, in: Nick Couldry et al. (ed.): Media Events in a Global Age, London etc. 2010, pp. 45–60.

    Woesler, Winfried: Justus Mösers Anti-Candide als Antwort auf Voltaire, in: Gerhard Lauer et al. (ed.): Das Erdbeben von Lissabon und der Katastrophendiskurs im 18. Jahrhundert, Göttingen 2008, pp. 309–317.

    Notes

    1. ^ For an overview, see Kendrick, The Lisbon Earthquake 1956; Günther, Das Erdbeben 1994; Fonseca, O Terramoto 2004; Paice, Wrath of God 2008.
    2. ^ See Kopf, Geologische Ursache 2008; Mendes-Victor, The 1755 Lisbon Earthquake 2009.
    3. ^ See Belo, Between History and Periodicity 2004.
    4. ^ "O dia 10 do corrente ficará memorável a todos os séculos pelos terramotos e incêndios que arriunaram uma grande parte desta cidade; mas tem havido a felicidade de se acharem na ruína os cofres da fazenda real e da maior parte dos particulares." See Belo, Between History and Periodicity 2004, p. 2.
    5. ^ Belo, Between History and Periodicity 2004, p. 2.
    6. ^ See Tellez Alarcia, Spanish Interpretations 2005.
    7. ^ Saada / Sgard, Tremblements 2005, p. 211.
    8. ^ Georgi, Das Erdbeben von Lissabon 2008, p. 96.
    9. ^ See Wilke, Jammer 1996, pp. 61f.; Wilke, Erdbeben 2008, p. 79.
    10. ^ See Saada / Sgard, Tremblements 2005, p. 210.
    11. ^ See Wilke, Nachrichtenauswahl 1994; Tolkemitt, Der Hamburgische Correspondent 1995; Böning, Bürger 2012.
    12. ^ Georgi, Heuschrecken 2009, p. 88.
    13. ^ See Espejo Cala, Spanish News 2005.
    14. ^ See Gouveia Deauville, Briefinszenierung 2008.
    15. ^ See Lüsebrink, Le tremblement 1999. Only the Courrier d'Avignon reported in more detail.
    16. ^ Apparently, the phenomenon described by geologists as "earthquake swarms" had occurred. See Schneider, Erdbeben 1975, p. 118.
    17. ^ See Wilke, Erdbeben 2008.
    18. ^ See [Anonymous], Hamburgischer unpartheyischer Correspondent of 09/12/1755, unpaginated.
    19. ^ See [Anonymous], Berlinische Nachrichten of 16/12/1755, p. 625.
    20. ^ See [Anonymous], Berlinische Nachrichten of 20/12/1755, p. 631.
    21. ^ See [Anonymous], Berlinische Nachrichten of 02/12/1755, p. 601.
    22. ^ See [Anonymous], Berlinische Nachrichten of 12/02/1755, p. 74.
    23. ^ See Telles Alarcia, Spanish Interpretations 2005, pp. 50–65; Udías / López Arroyo, The Lisbon Earthquake 2009, pp. 7–24 (with a collection of titles in the Appendix).
    24. ^ See Georgi, Heuschrecken 2009, p. 87. For a selection of examples, see Nozes, O Terramoto de 1755, 1990.
    25. ^ Georgi, Bedrohungsraum 2008, p. 193.
    26. ^ See Georgi, Heuschrecken 2009, pp. 85ff.
    27. ^ See Saada / Sgard, Tremblements 2005, pp. 215f.
    28. ^ See Lüsebrink, Le tremblement 1999.
    29. ^ See Kendrick, Lisbon Earthquake 1956, pp. 93ff. and pp. 119ff.
    30. ^ See Keßler, Das Erdbeben 2013, pp. 351–407.
    31. ^ "[d]aß die Erdbeben große Landplagen sind, erhellet unter andern aus der großen Menge schlechter Schriften, die sie in allen Gegenden des Erdbodens erzeugen, und über die auch in dem gegenwärtigen Jahre so manche Presse seufzt." Quoted according to Breidert, Erschütterung 1994, p. 14.
    32. ^ See Breidert, Erschütterung 1994, p. 10.
    33. ^ See Weinrich, Literaturgeschichte 1971, p. 65.
    34. ^ Reprinted in Breidert, Erschütterung 1994, pp. 58–73; see Weinrich, Literaturgeschichte 1971, pp. 65ff.; Günther, Erdbeben 1994, pp. 25–30; Oeser, Erdbeben 2000; Gisler, Optimismus 2008.
    35. ^ See Günther, Das Erdbeben 1994, pp. 71ff.
    36. ^ See Woesler, Justus Mösers Anti-Candide 2008.
    37. ^ Goethe, Dichtung und Wahrheit 1811, vol. 1.
    38. ^ See Hamacher, Strategien 2008; Weber, Reaktionen 2008.
    39. ^ "Von den Ursachen der Erderschütterungen bei Gelegenheit des Unglücks, welches die westlichen Länder von Europa gegen das Ende des vorigen Jahres betroffen hat", "Fortgesetzte Betrachtung der seit einiger Zeit wahrgenommenen Erschütterungen", "Geschichte und Naturbeschreibung der merkwürdigen Vorfälle des Erdbebens, welches an dem Ende des 1755sten Jahres einen großen Teil der Erde erschüttert hat". See Breidert, Erschütterung 1994, pp. 97–143; Günther, Erdbeben 1994, pp. 34–43
    40. ^ Allgemeine Naturgeschichte und Theorie des Himmels. See Oeser, Erdbeben 2000, pp. 189ff.
    41. ^ For an overview, see Fonseca, O Terramoto 2004; James / Kozák, Representations 2005.
    42. ^ See Collection of Historical Earthquakes of the University of California Berkeley: http://nisee.berkeley.edu/elibrary/browse/kozak?eq=5234 [18/12/2017]. In 2005, a printed selection was published: see Kozák / Moreira / Oldroyd, Iconography 2005.
    43. ^ See Baum, Ruinen 2008, pp. 140f.
    44. ^ Baum, Ruinen 2008, pp. 140f.
    45. ^ Baum, Ruinen 2008, p. 141.
    46. ^ See Scholz, Distanziertes Mitleid 2012, pp. 42ff.
    47. ^ See Lingesleben, Recueil 1998; Dombois, Apokalypse 2000, pp. 200ff.
    48. ^ Trempler, Katastrophen 2013, p. 68.
    49. ^ See Sztaba, Guckkasten 1996.
    50. ^ On Martin Engelbrecht, see Schott, Augsburger Kupferstecher 1924.
    51. ^ See Wilke, Erdbeben 2008, pp. 91f.
    52. ^ See Wilke, Historical Perspectives 2010.
    53. ^ The Süddeutsche Zeitung used the same illustration for its commemorative article on the 250th anniversary of the Lisbon earthquake. See Süddeutsche Zeitung 250 (2005), Wochenendbeilage, p. VI.
    54. ^ Evers / Koch / Lakotta / Stampf / Traufetter: Der bebende Planet 2005, p. 110.

    Creative Commons Lizenzvertrag Creative Commons Lizenzvertrag
    Dieser Text ist lizensiert unter This text is licensed under: CC by-nc-nd 3.0 Germany - Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

    Übersetzt von:Translated by: Michael Osmann
    Fachherausgeber:Editor: Mariano Delgado
    Redaktion:Copy Editor: Claudia Falk / Joe Kroll


    Indices



    ZitierempfehlungCitation

    : The Lisbon Earthquake (1755), in: Europäische Geschichte Online (EGO), hg. vom Leibniz-Institut für Europäische Geschichte (IEG), Mainz European History Online (EGO), published by the Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG), Mainz 2017-12-19. URL: http://www.ieg-ego.eu/wilkej-2014-en URN: urn:nbn:de:0159-2017103044 [JJJJ-MM-TT][YYYY-MM-DD].

    Bitte setzen Sie beim Zitieren dieses Beitrages hinter der URL-Angabe in Klammern das Datum Ihres letzten Besuchs dieser Online-Adresse ein. Beim Zitieren einer bestimmten Passage aus dem Beitrag bitte zusätzlich die Nummer des Textabschnitts angeben, z.B. 2 oder 1-4.

    When quoting this article please add the date of your last retrieval in brackets after the url. When quoting a certain passage from the article please also insert the corresponding number(s), for example 2 or 1-4.


    Titelexport ausExport citation from: HeBIS-Online-KatalogHeBIS Online Catalogue external link

     
    Lisbon Earhquake