Jonathan Keates

Seismic Shift

Wrath of God: The Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755


Quercus Books 280pp £20 order from our bookshop

The Lisbon earthquake is the most famous natural disaster in European history. In the space of little more than an hour on the morning of 1 November 1755, while much of the city’s population was at Mass for the feast of All Saints, three distinct tremors, followed by a forty-foot tidal wave, reduced the Portuguese capital to a heap of rubble, completely destroyed the port of Setúbal further south, and ravaged towns along the coastline of the Algarve. ‘So Dreadfull was ye Seen,’ wrote an English merchant to his father, ‘it is almost impossibell to Discribe it to you in Less you where Eye Witnesses, the Lord grant you neaver may.’

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