Episode • 3/3 of the Environmental Podcast in the Face of Natural Disasters

Episode • 3/3 of the Environmental Podcast in the Face of Natural Disasters

The earthquake that devastated Lisbon on November 1, 1755, left its mark on Europe: the tremors were felt as far away as Germany and stories of the disaster spread widely. It is more than just a natural disaster, it is a real cultural event, and even a philosophical earthquake. Gregory Quinet It is mentioned that “At this time Portugal had important trade networks and many information networks. When disaster strikes, there are trading nations that come from all over Europe, the Germans, the French, the English, the Swiss… and witness the trade and financial losses, and they will spread the information. This could not have happened anywhere else in Europe, because Lisbon is the capital and remains the heart of a global economic network, even if the golden age has passed and a certain decline has begun.“.

In light of the extent of the damage, the state, in the person of the Marquis of Pombal, intervened forcefully, for the first time in Europe, in managing the crisis and in the reconstruction process. The Marquis de Pombal, committed to Enlightenment ideas, is a crisis management figure**. Dejanira Cotto** explains to us “After the disaster in Lisbon, King José I, whose weakness was known to everyone, remained distraught, so he went to seek help. Thanks to him, despite everything, the first call was made to architects and engineers with the aim of contributing to the reconstruction of the city. Above all, he appeals to the Marquis of Pombal, considered the savior of Portugal and the architect of the reconstruction of Lisbon. The Marquis of Pombal is a former diplomat without a major career, descended from the Portuguese lower nobility, and held posts in London and Vienna. He will use his international network to raise financial resources to rebuild the city. He managed the crisis with remarkable response, and the first decrees were signed on 1 November 1755. Moreover, aid flowed, financial contributions from the Hanseatic League were very important, and trade links between Portugal and the League remained very important into the eighteenth century. And of course it is England that provides great support, providing supplies to feed the survivors, and contributing significantly by sending gold and silver.

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The disaster provides this ambitious man, committed to the ideas of the Enlightenment, the opportunity to build the modern capital of his dreams for Portugal and escape British domination. From major material losses to state consolidation, the economic consequences of this event are manifold.

For more

  • Gregory Quinet: Earthquakes in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (Champ Fallon, 2005)
  • Gregory Quinet: Versailles, Natural History (Discovery, 2016)
  • Janira Koto: History of Lisbon (Fayard, 2000)

Geography on map

58 minutes

Audio references

  • Voltaire's poem “The Disaster of Lisbon” read by Emmanuel Lumiere, “Sciences of the Continent”, French Culture, 03/07/06
  • Read, letter dated 11 November 1755 from Miguel Tiberio Pedigache Brandão to M. de Courcel
  • Alan Corbin, historian, “The Harmony of the Times,” Culture of France, 02/29/20
  • Reading – The Travel of the Ex-Duke of Châtelet to Portugal, Pierre Desuteux, Baron de Cormatin, Paris, 1798
  • ina archive, Portugal 60French Journal of Events, 1960

Music references

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About the Author: Irene Alves

"Bacon ninja. Guru do álcool. Explorador orgulhoso. Ávido entusiasta da cultura pop."

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