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Earthquake takes heavy toll on Lisbon Nov. 1 1755


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Lisbon Earthquake

A devastating earthquake hits Lisbon, Portugal, killing as many as 50,000 people, on November 1, 1755. The city was virtually rebuilt from scratch following the widespread destruction.

Lisbon was Portugal’s capital and largest city during the prosperous 18th century, when diamonds and gold from the Portuguese colony in Brazil made many in the country wealthy. About 10 percent of Portugal’s 3 million people lived in Lisbon and, as one of the biggest ports on the Atlantic Ocean, the city played a critical role in world trade. In 1755, Lisbon was also a major center of Catholicism and was home to Catholic religious authorities.

On All Saints Day, three tremors over the course of 10 minutes suddenly struck Lisbon. The worst of the quakes is thought to have had a magnitude of 8.0, though this is just an estimate as no recording equipment existed at the time. The shaking was felt as far away as Morocco.

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