The first of November 1755 a catastrophe shocked the world: the Lisbon earthquake. The monumental disaster inspired poets, interested philosophers, angered prophets and motivated politicians. The epicenter of the Portuguese Empire was reduced to the insignificance of human work: in one breath, all the wonders of technique and progress were destroyed as constructions for children.
The eighteenth century Lisbon was a medieval city, full of small, winding and dirty streets. Reports say that around 9:30 am, the city was shaken by a major earthquake.
The effect of the earthquake in a city in this condition was devastating, and reports say that the tremors lasted up to seven minutes, although there are reports that suggest it may have lasted for 15 minutes. The epicenter of this earthquake was about 200 km to 300 km from Lisbon, more precisely to the southwest of mainland Portugal, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Current studies estimate that the 1755 tremor reached 8.9 on the Richter scale (the scale goes up to 10).
The magnitude of this earthquake contributed to the total destruction of the city.
And as if it is not enough, as it was the day of all Saints, in the churches, prepared with candles for the day’s ceremonies, fires started that ended up burning in the city for five days.
Obviously, nobody got a scientific explanation for what was happening, and what they thought was divine wrath. The only possibility was to escape.
Many people in the midst of despair and fleeing the landslides and fires that hit other parts of the city fled to Baixa de Lisboa. There, these people were hit by three tsunami that affected the entire region.
Thus, many of those who did not die in the landslides and fires died as a result of the tsunami that flooded this part of Lisbon. Regarding the earthquake, historian João Lúcio de Azevedo narrated the following:
The images oscillate on the altars; the walls dance; beams and columns are desoldered; the walls collapse with the bald sound of churning chalk and crushed human bodies; on the ground where the dead rest, the caves, to swallow the living […]. The horror of hell in woes and torments. Disorganized escape with fatal accidents, and the continuous stumbling over stones and corpses […]. Ruins everywhere | 1 |.
At the time, Lisbon had about 200 thousand inhabitants and the death toll varies considerably, as there are those who point out about 10 thousand deaths, while others suggest more than 50 thousand deaths in the disaster.
In addition to human lives, material destruction was enormous. The Royal Library was destroyed with more than 70 thousand volumes of items stored there. The Tagus Opera House, which opened that year, was destroyed and the destruction of 35 churches, 55 palaces was listed and across the city it is believed that around 10,000 buildings have been reduced to ruins.
Reconstruction of Lisbon
The emergency actions after the earthquake were taken immediately through the action of Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, future marquis of Pombal. The reconstruction works of the city extended until the middle of the 19th century.
The first major action taken was to prevent the proliferation of disease and, therefore, it was necessary to bury the dead. Most of the bodies were incinerated with the gigantic fires that spread through Lisbon, but many remained below the ruins. To get rid of the bodies, the dead were buried in mass graves and many were thrown into the sea with weights tied to make them sink.
One step taken to stem the proliferation of chaos brought on by the earthquake was to prevent looting. This was even part of a list of fourteen measures adopted by order of Carvalho e Melo. Those captured by looting a residence were hanged by Kingdom troops.
The buildings that were rebuilt had strict guidelines to be followed with a fine forecast for non-compliance.
Baixa de Lisboa, the most destroyed area, became known as Baixa Pombalina and received a great innovation for the time: the projected buildings received an anti-seismic structure. This structure became known as the “pombaline cage”. This technique consisted of incorporating a wooden structure close to the masonry walls.
The Portuguese king – d. José I – began to suffer the rest of his days with claustrophobia. He survived the disaster, because at the time of the earthquake he was on the outskirts of Lisbon, in Belém. The sight of the destruction and the reports of thousands of dead people buried there made the king afraid to live in closed places.
D. José I was king of Portugal until 1777 and until the end of his days he lived in a complex of tents built in a place in Lisbon called Alto da Ajuda. This place was chosen because it was elevated and suffered little destruction and the tents built there became known as Real Barraca da Ajuda. This complex existed until the end of the 18th century, when a fire destroyed it.
In the video below you can see a reconstruction of what happened that same day, 265 years ago.
Son of Dona Maria II and D Fernando II, D. Pedro V had a careful moral and intellectual education, studying among other disciplines, natural sciences, philosophy, writing and languages. From an early age he showed remarkable intelligence: at the age of two he spoke German and French and at the age of twelve he mastered Greek and Latin, and he also knew English.
He traveled to several countries and tried to bring to Portugal the modernity and evolution he found in these trips, he was liberal and innovative but also charitable and concerned with his people. He inaugurated the first telegraph in Portugal and also the railroad between Lisbon and Carregado and was called “O rei Santo” the king saint because he refused to leave Lisbon during the cholera and yellow fever epidemics from 1853 to 1857 where he provided direct assistance to the victims and created the D. Pedro V asylum to welcome the orphans, giving them primary education and teaching them a trade.
D. Pedro V had no great matrimonial interests, refusing his first promised wife but finally accepting his second, Estefânia de Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.
In April 1858, King D. Pedro V and Queen D. Estefânia were married by Proxy, but they only met a month later.
The wedding took place on May 18, 1858, at the church of São Domingos, in Lisbon. The entire city was ready to host the event.
In order to please his future wife, D. Pedro V ordered to make one of the most expensive jewels in the Portuguese Crown in his name and specifically for his wedding. A diadem with more than 4,000 diamonds and it is here, that according to the people, the misfortune of this love story begins.
At the time, diamonds should not be used by virgin women at the wedding and as if that was not an omen, the jewel was so heavy that it made an open wound on the Queen’s forehead. When they left their marriage with blood running down the people dictated their sentence: “Oh poor… she will die!
However, for D Pedro V, after meeting D. Estefânia, everything changed: the couple seemed in love, they walked hand in hand through the gardens of Sintra and Benfica.
But the queen needed to get pregnant. A year after the wedding, the queen felt bad and was hospitalized. At just 22 years of age, the queen died of diphtheria that was contracted at a railroad inauguration in Alentejo.
The husband stayed at the head of her bed, without sleeping, for two whole days. The doctors of the royal house performed an autopsy, but its result was not made public until 50 years later in an article by the famous doctor Ricardo Jorge: the queen died virgin!
On the day of the funeral, Estefânia took with her the precious jewel that on arrival at the place was exchanged for a crown of orange flowers … the jewel, worth 86,953,645 reis, was never seen again.
D. Pedro, sad with the loss of his great love, died on November 11, 1861, at the age of 24. He died of typhoid fever, which he contracted from drinking contaminated water during a hunt.
The Church of São Domingos, a baroque church located in the historic center of Lisbon, next to Praça do Rossio, dates from the 13th century and, in addition to being an important church because royal weddings were celebrated here, is also the protagonist of a history that still makes us shiver today.
The first stone of the Church of São Domingos was laid in 1241, and since then, it has undergone successive restoration and expansion campaigns.
The architectural style of the Church of São Domingos is a mixture of the different periods and influences that shaped it, including in 1748, with the reform implemented by Frederico Ludovice to the chancel, as well as the subsequent reconstruction work by Manuel Caetano Sousa and the reconstruction works that took place after the great fire of 1959. Of the various elements that constitute it, the Mannerists and Baroque stand out.
This Baroque church is classified as a National Monument. It contains mannerist features, with a single nave in a Latin cross, a prominent transept, a rectangular chancel, a circular crypt, a cloister and a sacristy. The exterior is characterized by the simplicity of lines and the interior is rich and eclectic, highlighting its large columns, marble and tiles.
But it is a story that happened here more than 500 years ago that has marked the history of this church forever.
It was in the Church of São Domingos that one of the darkest episodes in Lisbon’s history began: the massacre of the city’s Jews in 1506.
On April 19, 1506, the faithful filled the church, calling for an end to the drought and plague, when a light entered the church and someone said they saw the face of Christ illuminated. Soon everyone started shouting that it was a miracle. In the midst of this, there was a dissenting voice: a new Christian, that is, a Jew who was forced to convert, tried to argue that it was just a physical phenomenon, caused by the reflection of light. Enraged, the crowd turned on him and beat him to death.
It was the beginning of three days of slaughter in the city of Lisbon. The story goes that the Dominican friars cried out against the Jews and urged the people to kill the “heretics”. Many people had already left the city because of the plague, but those who stayed, to which were joined many passing sailors – “of ships from Holland, Zealand, Germany and other place”, wrote Damião de Góis -, did not spare the Jews who crossed their path. Men, women and children were tortured, massacred and burned at the stake, many of them right there near the Church of São Domingos. Between 2,000 and 4,000 Jews are said to have died.
Damião de Góis wrote: “And since they were unable to find new Christians on the streets, they went to rob the houses where they lived and dragged them to the streets, with their sons, women and daughters, and threw them into the mix, alive and dead, at the campfires, without mercy. ”
25 years later, in 1531, a terrible earthquake damaged the church, that was restaured. In 1755, the great Lisbon earthquake damaged the church once again and badly. And it was not the last tragedy. A fire occurred on August 13, 1959.
When the church was rebuilt (it reopened in 1994), it was decided to leave the marks of what had happened. Today the burned walls remind us of the story of the massacre of 1506 – as if the words of hatred of the Dominican friars and the sound of the angry mob and the screams of the Jews still echoed.
During the reign of D. João V, after the signing of a peace treaty between several European countries (1713), a policy of approximation between Portugal and Spain was followed.
A double marriage was then negotiated between the heirs of the two kingdoms: the Portuguese princess Maria Bárbara (daughter of D. João V) would marry the heir to the Spanish throne, prince Fernando; the future king D. José I would marry princess D. Mariana Vitória (daughter of D. Filipe V, 1st king of the Bourbon dynasty, in Spain).
It was also a way of seeking to guarantee peace between the two kingdoms.
The documents for this contract were signed in Lisbon and Madrid in 1727, and preparations for the wedding ceremony began, which became known as the “exchange of princesses”.
On January 10, 1723, were signed the capitulations of the princess’s marriage contract with Prince of Asturias D. Fernando, son of Felipe V, of Spain, the first of the Bourbons dynasty. At night there were fireworks in Terreiro do Paço, all the outbreaks in the Tagus were flagged and lit up with brilliance, and the illuminations throughout the city were equally brilliant. The following day the wedding took place in Lisbon, by proxy in the Patriarchal church.
The exchange of princesses should take place on neutral ground. For this reason, a bridge was built with a wooden palace over the river Caia, a river that marks the border between Portugal and Spain in the Elvas / Badajoz region. The palace, very well decorated, would welcome the royal families and the main guests.
The royal procession left Lisbon on 8 January, followed by the retinues of Queen D. Ana Ana Josefa and the patriarch, D. Tomás de Almeida.
D. João V arrived in Évora on the 10th, accompanied by D. José, and soon tried to order a “solemn and festive reception” for his wife, who was traveling with her daughter, Maria Bárbara de Bragança, and the infant D . Peter. Welcoming them were the city authorities, including the nobility and clergy, two battalions of infantry and two cavalry regiments, in addition to the people who came to the gates of the Lagoon, “from outside the walls”.
The ceremony for the exchange of the princesses, married to the heirs of two crowns, was carried out with the greatest pomp, making the trip with all the magnificence.
Princess D. Maria Bárbara’s trousseau was grand and dazzling. D. João V, to make the ceremony more striking, ordered the construction of the Vendas Novas palace, which still exists today, with the sole purpose of providing accommodation for two nights to the Portuguese and Spanish delegation .
In 1746 Filipe V died, and the Prince of Asturias ascended the throne with the name of Fernando VI, thus crowning Princess D. Maria Bárbara the crown of Spain’s queen.
Princess Maria Bárbara’s entourage consisted of several coaches ordered on purpose for the ceremony. There were still 185 carts and 6,000 soldiers.
Many people came to the banks of the river to watch, as far as possible, the public events of the ceremonies.
The weddings took place on January 19, 1729.
291 years ago.
He is the King known for his splendour, the Baroque era, for the construction of the wonderful palace and convent of Mafra, but also for his extramarital relations. And what is strange about a king who has lovers? In appearance nothing, aside from the fact that D João V had a preference for nuns …
Of all the lovers, the most famous was Mother Paula Silva, a young brunette, a nun at the Convent of Odivelas, for whom D. João V had built sumptuous rooms, with gilded ceilings, where she was served by nine servants. According to the book “Amantes dos Reis de Portugal”, the beds were made of canopy, covered with silver foil and surrounded by red and gold velvets, and the jars in which she urinated were made of silver.
Over the 10 years that this relationship lasted, the King gave her an annual income of 1708 $ 000 réis, but he could only go to Odivelas to have relations with the nun when the palace doctor authorized him.
In 1720, when Mother Paula was 19 years old, she gave birth to José, who was already the fourth bastard son of the Monarch.
The first had been born already after the marriage with D. Maria Ana of Austria and was son of his first girlfriend, D. Filipa de Noronha, sister of the marquis of Cascais, seduced when D. João was only 15 years old and she 22. She was a lady-in-waiting of Queen Maria Sofia of Neuburg, mother of the fiery prince. To conquer her, D. João used madly foolish means, including a promise of marriage. Wooing and jewellery offering strengthened the lady’s love, who cherished the excusable illusion of becoming queen of Portugal. One can understand her frustration when she learned of the negotiations for the union with Princess Maria Ana of Austria.
There followed the three bastards who became known as the Meninos de Palhavã (for having lived in a palace in this area of Lisbon). Before Mother Paula, on his first visits to the Odivelas Convent, the King was intime with a French nun, who gave birth to D. António, and another Portuguese nun, mother of D. Gaspar, who became archbishop of Braga. The King recognized these three of his illegitimate children in a declaration signed in 1742.
When he got tired of his visits to Paula, D. João V started going to a 17th century palace that still exists in Lisbon, on the corner of the streets of Poço dos Negros and São Bento. D. Jorge de Menezes, owner of properties in the Algarve, lived there, but the king chose to go there on the days (or nights) when he knew he was not there. With whom he was going to meet – furtively – it was with D. Luísa Clara de Portugal, the wife of D. Jorge.
But, while visiting Luísa Clara, D. João V also gallant a servant of hers. And he even appointed as diplomat to the Holy See, in Rome, a brother of the girl, a shoemaker!
And the predictable happened: Luísa Clara became pregnant during one of her husband’s absences. Dejected, D. Jorge retired to a farm in Sintra, where he would die. As for the queen, she tried – in vain – to prevent her rival from entering the parties at the Palace. The fruit of these loves was a girl, sent to the Convent of Santos.
Free from her children and her husband, Luísa Clara had time for everything, including being the lover of a half-brother of the king, bastard son of Pedro II. Furious, D. João V thought of having the bold relative castrated, and only the confessor managed to appease his wrath, evoking the pains of hell.
D. João V also got involved with a gypsy woman, Margarida do Monte, but sent her to a convent, so that she would no longer receive other lovers.
The last lover of D. João V, when he doubled the cape of the 50, would be the Italian opera singer Petronilla Basilli. To keep up with the required lyrical performance, the king started taking aphrodisiacs. And when, two years later, he turned his back on Basilli, he began to whisper that it was over. The truth is that, in the final decade of his life, the Magnânimo dedicated himself mainly to the charitable gestures that justified his epithet.
D. Afonso Henriques was the son of the counts D. Henrique – second son of Henrique, Duke of Burgundy – and D. Teresa, the illegitimate daughter of the king of León and Castile, Afonso VI. He was born in 1109, probably in Viseu, as it is in this city of Beira that, at that time, the presence of his mother, the Infanta D. Teresa, can be historically determined, taking into account the reconstruction of her itinerary based on the documentary sources of the time. The future king was educated in Entre Douro e Minho, in his master’s lands, possibly D. Egas Moniz de Ribadouro. Orphaned by father in 1112, so at the age of 3, he certainly could not keep any other memories than the memories reported by his educators. The mother’s subsequent marriage to the Galician noble Fernão Peres de Trava, and the attempt by the new court of D. Teresa to attract Portuguese territory back to Galician orbit, are factors that would certainly have contributed to remove Afonso Henriques from his mother’s conviviality.
D. Afonso Henriques defeated the anti-patriotic forces led by his mother’s lover, Fernão Peres de Trava at the battle of São Mamede, in 1128, inaugurating the first of four dynasties of kings in Portugal, symbols of the nation until the beginning of 20th century. Interestingly, it is known today that the nationalist propaganda of the 20th century turned her husband into a lover to diminish the figure of the Galician count.
On the 25th of July 1139, he won against Islam the most emblematic of his victories, in the battle of Ourique, mythified by the later historiography in an elaborate legend.
In 1144, Pope Eugénio III called for a new crusade for the Iberian Peninsula. The armada arrived in the city of Porto on June 16, being convinced by the bishop of Porto, Pedro II Pitões, to take part in this military operation. After the conquest of Santarém (1147), knowing the availability of the Crusaders to help, D. Afonso Henriques’ forces continued southwards, over Lisbon.
The Siege of Lisbon began on July 1, 1147 and lasted until October 21, culminating in the conquest of this city from the Moors with the help of the Crusaders who were heading for the Middle East, more specifically for the Holy Land. It was the only success of the Second Crusade.The Portuguese forces advanced by land, those of the Crusaders by sea, penetrating the mouth of the Tagus River; in June of that same year, both forces were reunited, the first skirmishes were wounded on the outskirts west of the hill on which the city of then, today called Baixa, stood. After violent fighting, both this area and the east were dominated by Christians, thus imposing a siege on the opulent mercantile city.
Well defended, the city walls proved impregnable. The weeks passed in sorties of the besieged ones, while the besiegers’ war machines launched all sorts of projectiles at the defenders, the number of dead and wounded increasing from side to side.
In early October they opened a breach where the besiegers launched themselves. On the verge of a Christian assault on two fronts, Muslims, weakened by skirmishes, hunger and disease, capitulated on 20 October.
But as often happens, in this part of history, a legend took the place of reality: the legend says that D. Afonso Henriques had laid siege to the city of Lisbon, helped by the many crusaders who passed through there on the way to the Holy Land.
In one of the attempts to assault one of the city gates, a knight from his army, Martim Moniz, faced the Moors and managed to keep the door open. His body was crossed between the two doors and allowed the Christians to enter the city.
Severely wounded, Martim Moniz entered the city with his companions and also made some victims among his enemies, before falling dead.
D. Afonso Henriques wanted to honor his courage and sacrifice, so he ordered that entrance to be named Martim Moniz.