Lisbon Earthquake

   On 1 November 1755, All Saints' Day,
   Lisbon experienced the worst earthquake known during its recorded history. The earthquake destroyed large sections of the city. The greatest destruction occurred in the central downtown (baixa) and the great Royal Palace square, now in a different form known as "Commerce Square," but still referred to by the old name, "Square of the Palace" (Terreiro do Paço). Thousands of buildings, including more than 100 churches and 300 palaces, collapsed, and tens of thousands of people died. The shocks from the earthquake were followed by a giant tidal wave from down the Tagus River, which drowned many, and then by devastating fires that were started by candles' lit during the All Saint's Day religious observances.
   The Marquis de Pombal, the king's prime minister, was decisive in his rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts. Much of the Lisbon downtown, the baixa, was rebuilt according to a master plan that laid out a grid pattern of streets upon which were erected buildings of a uniform height and design. The Lisbon earthquake became a great issue and discussion point in mid-l8th century Europe and Great Britain, and the British Parliament voted 100,000 pounds in humanitarian aid and relief to Portugal and the earthquake victims, one of the first cases of massive humanitarian aid for an international disaster from a foreign nation, albeit Portugal's oldest ally.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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