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30,000 Dead in Lisbon Earthquake and Tsunami

The headline says it all. The earthquake is centered northeast of Lisbon, in the wetlands of the Tagus Estuary but the majority of damage and deaths obviously occur in Lisbon which is located at the mouth of the Tagus River. It is rated as a 6.9 on the Mw scale (which replaced the Richter scale) or a 10 on the MSK scale which evaluates the strength of an earthquake based on the damage it causes. A 10 is "Devastating: Masonry buildings destroyed, infrastructure crippled. Massive landslides. Water bodies may be overtopped, causing flooding of the surrounding areas and formation of new water bodies." BTW, the local friars blamed the Jews, but the Jews had been expelled from Portugal in 1496, so that rumor died out fairly quickly. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Experts consider this a moderately hazardous earthquake based on the number of human casualties but that is a poor way to judge a quake in historical terms. Frankly, building practices of the 1500s do not compare to those of modern times. Setting aside tsunamis, deaths due to earthquakes are due to stuff falling on you like bookcases, or the facades of buildings peeling off and hitting you as you run out of the building. That is why experts warn you to get under a table or stand in a doorway during an earthquake. Yet the normal reaction is to run outside. In Los Angeles, building practices require a structure to sway loosely rather than remain rigid. It's a heck of a ride, and whenever there is a moderate earthquake, camera crews will rush to the airport to film people in their bathrobes, holding their VISA cards and screaming, "Get me the HELL outta here!"

Battle of Puná: The Beginning of the End of the Incas *

Francisco Pizarro was a member of the expedition when Balboa discovered the Pacific Ocean. He was also instrumental in capturing Balboa and having him beheaded. As a reward he was made the mayor of Panama City but he wanted more. Pizarro arranges for an expedition to Peru to find gold. On the 3rd try he gets a foothold on the Island of Puná. Thousands of warriors swarm toward the Spaniards. With steely determination the Spaniards lower their pikes and face the enemy. The musketeers fire into the charging throng and the natives fall like rain. The call to charge sounds and the cavalry wades into the mass. It's a slaughter. Next year Pizarro will move to the mainland and capture the Incan king with an army of 200 men facing thousands.[6]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Spaniards could never have done this 50 years ago. Their military was a rag tag group of undisciplined knot-heads, but their fight against the French and Swiss mercenaries over the Kingdom of Naples forced them to change their military discipline and tactics. They became lean, mobile and fearless. Nevertheless, the natives should have been able to overwhelm the Spaniards with numbers alone. It seems likely that the Puná natives were not prepared for muskets, didn't understand the tactics used by the Spaniards and weren't willing to take the losses necessary to win this battle. Ultimately, the Incas didn't stand a chance. The learning curve was too steep. They had no real metal industry with which to build the weapons necessary to counter the Spaniards. Even if they had defeated Pizarro, there would have been other "Pizarros" to come.[7]

Our Lady of Guadalupe and the First Native American Saint

Juan Diego, an Aztec convert to Christianity, sees a vision of the Virgin Mary at the hill of Tepyac which is now part of Mexico City. Mary directs him to build a church in her honor there on the hill. A vision of Mary will appear 4 times to Juan Diego including as a painting on his cloak which will be preserved and displayed in the church. The church will become the most visited Catholic holy site in the modern day and will inspire many to convert to Catholicism. However, the Franciscan monks who manage the church worry that the image will lead people to idolatry. Juan Diego will be beatified in 1990, and canonized in 2002 over the objections of the abbot of the church itself. [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Our Lady of Guadalupe is a big, big deal, especially in Latin American countries. In fact, my daughter who is Jewish, was asked (actually commanded) by her middle school Spanish teacher to carry the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in celebration of some Christian festival. Since this is clearly against Jewish Law and Protestant ideals concerning idols, I wasn't going to let it happen with my kid. The teacher didn't understand what the big deal was so I talked to the principal and we worked it out. Some people see these images as cultural and not religious. Certainly the Catholic Church does not encourage idolatry but it gives the wrong impression when people carry statues and pictures of religious figures through the street. I don't want to stop Christians from doing what they think is important. I just want to make a little room for my kids. It all works out as long as we calmly state what we need... not all that we want but what we need.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1531, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Physical Geography: Introduction To Earth. Google Books. Discovery Publishing House (2006). Retrieved on 1 March 2015. “Earthquakes are grouped into 3 categories on the basis of their hazardous impacts in terms of human casualties. (i) Moderately hazardous earthquakes--When human deaths caused by severe seismic tremors are below 50,000 mark. Examples, Kamakura earthquake of Japan of 1293 AD. (22,000 deaths), Tabas earthquake of Iran of 1978 A.D. (25,000 deaths), Armenian earthquake of earstwhile USSR of 1988 (26,000 deaths), Lisbon earthquake of Portugal in 1531 AD. (30,000 deaths), ...”
  2. Tagus Estuary Natural Reserve - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 1 March 2015. “The estuary of the Tagus River is the largest wetland in the country and one of the most important in Europe, a sanctuary for fish, molluscs, crustaceans, and especially to birds that stop-over on their migration between northern Europe and Africa.”
  3. Besana-Ostman, G. M.; Vilanova, S. P.; Nemser, E. S.; Falcao-Flor, A.; Heleno, S.; Ferreira, H.; Fonseca, J. D. (January 2012). "Large Holocene Earthquakes in the Lower Tagus Valley Fault Zone, Central Portugal". srl.geoscienceworld.org. Seismological Research Letters (Albany, California) 83 (January/February 2012): 67-76. http://srl.geoscienceworld.org/content/83/1/67.extract. Retrieved 1 March 2015. "Other historical earthquakes that caused major damage within the Lower Tagus Valley include the poorly constrained 1344 Mw 6.7 earthquake, the 1531 Mw 6.9 earthquake, the 1755 Mw 8.5 earthquake, and the 1858 Mw 7.1 earthquake (magnitudes according to Vilanova and Fonseca 2007).". 
  4. Moment magnitude scale - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 1 March 2015. “The scale was developed in the 1970s to succeed the 1930s-era Richter magnitude scale (ML). Even though the formulae are different, the new scale retains the familiar continuum of magnitude values defined by the older one.”
  5. Sacred Game: The Role of the Sacred in the Genesis of Modern Literary Fiction - - Google Books. books.google.com (2015). Retrieved on 1 March 2015. “A second tremor was feared imminent and the rumor spread, apparently encouraged by the friars of Santarem, that the Jews were to blame.”
  6. Francisco Pizarro - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 1 March 2015. “In April 1528, he reached northern Peru and found the natives rich with precious metals. This discovery gave Pizarro the motivation to plan a third expedition to conquer Peru, and he returned to Panama to make arrangements, but the Governor refused to grant permission for the project. Pizarro returned to Spain to appeal directly to King Charles I. His plea was successful, and he received not only a license for the proposed expedition but considerable authority over any lands conquered during the venture. He was joined by family and friends, and the expedition left Panama in 1530.”
  7. Battle of Isandlwana - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 1 March 2015. “Eleven days after the British commenced their invasion of Zululand in South Africa, a Zulu force of some 20,000 warriors attacked a portion of the British main column consisting of about 1,800 British, colonial and native troops and perhaps 400 civilians.”
  8. Veneration of Mary in Roman Catholicism - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 1 March 2015. “Growth of Roman Catholic veneration of Mary and Mariology has often come, not from official declarations, but from Marian writings of the saints, popular devotion, and at times reported Marian apparitions. The Holy See approves only a few of the many such reported apparitions as worthy of belief, the latest being with regard to an apparition already approved at diocesan level as far back as 1665.”
  9. Juan Diego - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 1 March 2015. “St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (1474--1548), a native of Mexico, is the first Roman Catholic indigenous saint from the Americas. He is said to have been granted an apparition of the Virgin Mary on four separate occasions in December 1531 at the hill of Tepeyac, then outside but now well within metropolitan Mexico City. The Basilica of Guadalupe located at the foot of the hill of Tepeyac claims to possess Juan Diego's mantle or cloak (known as a tilma) on which an image of the Virgin is said to have been impressed by a miracle as a pledge of the authenticity of the apparitions.”
  10. Our Lady of Guadalupe - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 1 March 2015. “Official Catholic accounts state that on the morning of December 9, 1531, a native American peasant named Juan Diego saw a vision of a maiden at a place called the Hill of Tepeyac, which would become part of Villa de Guadalupe, a suburb of Mexico City. Speaking to him in his native Nahuatl language (the language of the Aztec empire), the maiden asked that a church be built at that site in her honor. From her words, Juan Diego recognized the maiden as the Virgin Mary.”
  11. Popular Catholic Shrines. ZENIT Daily Dispatch (A Catholic advocacy group) (13 June 1999). Retrieved on 1 March 2015. “The text, which was written by Bishop Francesco Giogia, secretary of the Council, points out that the most visited shrine is that of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Patroness of all America, in Mexico City.”
  12. English translation of the Nican Mopohua. web.archive.org (2015). Retrieved on 1 March 2015. “First She caused herself to be seen by an Indian named Juan Diego, poor but worthy of respect; and then her Precious Image appeared before the recently named Bishop, Don Fray Juan de Zumárraga.”
  13. Mexico Row Over Denial of Juan Diego's Existence. DailyCatholic.org (December 7, 1999). Retrieved on 1 March 2015. “In a 1995 interview with the Jesuit magazine Ixtus, Father Schulenberg said Juan Diego 'is a symbol, not a reality' and he called Juan Diego's 1990 beatification by Pope John Paul II 'recognition of a cult. It is not recognition of the physical, real existence of a person.' He soon retired as abbot of the Guadalupe shrine following the controversy caused by his remarks.”
  14. (June 7, 2001) Mexican Phoenix: Our Lady of Guadalupe: Image and Tradition Across Five Centuries. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved on 2 March 2015. “In the notarized depositions that were appended to his main text it was stated that on 26 December 1786 in the presence of the abbot, Bartolache and a group of painters inspected the image at Tepeyac with the windows open for two hours. [...] In conclusion, they affirmed that according to the rules of their art, they considered that the image had been miraculously painted, at least in its 'primitive substance', but that 'daring hands' had executed certain lines and retouchings.” 

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