Since nothing comparable had ever happened in Europe, the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 was not a typical natural catastrophe. When compared to previous tremors, the earthquake, in Shrady's opinion, was more than just a simple ground trembling. Other things like religion and philosophical beliefs were affected. It was a more significant occurrence than any other ever noted in Europe. It meant that people began to doubt both the reality of God and the authority of the churches. Others perceived it as having both physical and spiritual repercussions, and as something that would spur innovation and advancements aimed at achieving adaptation and resilience in the midst of the catastrophe. The event occurred during the period of philosophical optimisms hence drew different interpretation. Emmanuel Klint interprets the earthquake as not an act of God’s wrath due to the behaviour of the Lisbons. He, instead, demonstrated that it was due to physical causes. As a result, it should not incite fears among the people but rather look for ways on how to control its effects. The earthquake had no relationship to theology. According to Voltarre, the leadership of God is not for the best interest of man. He wonders if the catastrophe was the will of God considering many people had lost their lives. He wonders if this event is as a result of God’s vengeance. Theologists and religious leaders (Jesuit malagrida) interpreted the earthquake as a punishment from God for the sinners since it destroyed the churches and struck them while attending a mass. He said that people should stop pretending that it was a natural event and start repenting.

Some of the intellectual assumptins were that the catastrophe would bring about technical and scientific innovation. Carvalho said that the people should stop praying and repenting and to start the process of rebuilding the city. He further emphasized that the dead should be forgotten and the focus should be on the living. Cultural assumption was that God was punishing sinners and the city should not be reconstructed and instead they should repent.

The intellectual interpretation that prevailed was that it was a natural disaster and the reconstruction of the city began and not repentance. The journey of restoring the city began by burying the dead providing shelter to survivors. Carvalho said that the dead should be forgotten and the focus should be on the living. Those who survived were provided with food and shelter. He then ensured that the city was protected by mobilizing the soldiers immediately. Those who insisted that the disaster was a punishment from God was being silenced and innovative thinking was what was being preached. Carvalho was focused in rebuilding the city economically and socially. Voltaire’s interpretation that the disaster was as a result of God’s vengeance is left out and focus is on reforming and restoring the city.

Shrady’s telling of the Lisbon earthquake tells me that in the 18th century in Europe some peoples thinking was not modern. When the earthquake occurred some people especially the religious leaders saw it as a punishment from God and not as a natural disaster. They dwelled more in believing in God rather than technology. They thought that repentance and prayers was what was needed to restore the city. However, people like Carvalho illustrated that there was modernity through his modern thinking. He encouraged scientific and modern thinking to be used to evaluate the earthquake. He also employed modern knowledge when rebuilding Libson. He thought of things such as urban planning to ensure that such calamities will be avoided in the future. Attempting to silence those who insisted that the disaster was a punishment from God and encouraging rebuilding rather than repentance and his efforts to abolish slavery shows that there was modernity in the 18th century in Europe.

Work Cited

Shrady, Nicholas. The last day: wrath, ruin, and reason in the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755. Penguin, 2008.

Shrady, Nicholas. "The Last Day: Wrath." Ruin, and Reason in the Great (1755).

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