The earthquake began at 9:30 on November 1st, 1755, and was centered in the Atlantic Ocean, about 200 km WSW of Cape St. Vincent. The total duration of shaking lasted ten minutes and was comprised of three distinct jolts. Effects from the earthquake were far reaching. The worst damage occurred in the south-west of Portugal. Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, was the largest and the most important of the cities damaged. Severe shaking was felt in North Africa and there was heavy loss of life in Fez and Mequinez. Moderate damage was done in Algiers and in southwest Spain. Shaking was also felt in France, Switzerland, and Northern Italy. A devastating fire following the earthquake destroyed a large part of Lisbon, and a very strong tsunami caused heavy destruction along the coasts of Portugal, southwest Spain, and western Morocco.

In 1755 an earthquake, followed by a tidal wave and a fire, destroyed much of the city.Soon after the earthquake, several fires broke out, mostly started by cooking fires and candles. Some of them were rapidly extinguished, especially in the densely populated areas. But many inhabitants fled from their homes and left fires burning. Narrow streets full of fallen debris prevented access to the fire sites. The public squares filled with people and their rescued belongings, but as the fire approached, these squares were abandoned, and the fire reached catastrophic proportions. Looters setting fire to some ransacked houses caused the belief that the fire had a criminal origin. The flames raged for five days.

All of the downtown area, from St. Paul's quarter to St. Roch, and from Carmo and Trindade to the Rossio square area to the Castle and Alfama quarters were burned, along with the Ribeira, Rua Nova, and Rossio quarters. Remolares, Barrio Alto, Limoeiro, and Alfama, were partially burned.

Several buildings which had suffered little damage due to the earthquake were destroyed by the fire. The Royal Palace and the Opera House were totally gutted by the flames. The Patriarchal suffered relatively little damage in the earthquake, and religious services continued there during the afternoon, but the church was evacuated as the fire approached. Later the building was completely burned out.

Immediately after the earthquake, many inhabitants of Lisbon looked for safety on the sea by boarding ships moored on the river. But about 30 minutes after the quake, a large wave swamped the area near Bugie Tower on the mouth of the Tagus. The area between Junqueria and Alcantara in the western part of the city was the most heavily damaged by the wave, but further destruction occurred upstream. The Cais de Pedra at Rerreiro do Paco and part of the nearby custom house were flattened.

A total of three waves struck the shore, each dragging people and debris out to sea and leaving exposed large stretches of the river bottom. In front of the Terreiro do Paco, the maximum height of the waves was about 6 meters. Boats overcrowded with refugees capsized and sank. In the town Cascais, 30 km west of Lisbon, the waves wrecked several boats and when the water withdrew, large stretches of sea bottom were left uncovered. In coastal areas like Peniche, 80 km north of Lisbon, many people were killed by the tsunami. In Setubal, 30 km south of Lisbon, the water reached the first floor of buildings.

The destruction was greatest in Algarve, southern Portugal, where the tsunami dismantled some coastal fortresses and, in the lower levels, razed houses. In some places the waves crested at more than 30 m. Almost all the coastal towns and villages of Algarve were heavily damaged, except Faro, which was protected by sandy banks. In Lagos, the waves reached the top of the city walls. For the coastal regions, the destructive effects of the tsunami were more disastrous than those of the earthquake.

In southwestern Spain, the tsunami caused damage to Cadiz and Huelva, and the waves penetrated the Guadalquivir River, reaching Seville. In Gibraltar, the sea rose suddenly by about two meters. In Ceuta the tsunami was strong, but in the Mediterranean Sea, it decreased rapidly. On the other hand, it caused great damage and casualties to the western coast of Morocco, from Tangier, where the waves reached the walled fortifications of the town, to Agadir, where the waters passed over the walls, killing many.

The tsunami reached, with less intensity, the coast of France, Great Britain, Ireland, Belgium and Holland. In Madeira and in the Azores islands damage was extensive and many ships were in danger of being wrecked.

The tsunami crossed the Atlantic Ocean, reaching the Antilles in the afternoon. Reports from Antigua, Martinique, and Barbados note that the sea first rose more than a meter, followed by large waves.

The theory of optimism is all about the idea that people can seriously stand back and access the situation at hand. Then from that assessment that has been made the individual can decide the best approach to take and think about how everything will turn out for the best. This theory tends to work out for some people and that is good that it does because it does not work for everyone and the fact that there are some of one and some of another they can help each other to see the truth in any given situation.

Clearly this was a natural disaster of extreme devastation to the people of Lisbon however Voltaire saw this as proof that the theory if optimism was a misconstrued way of thought. Candide and his friends beautifully illustrate this point when they are placed in the center of a situation in which many would utilize the optimistic approach. The story tells of Candide and his friends ending up on the beach. They then regain their train of thought they proceed to inner city of Lisbon. The three Candide, Pangloss and the sailor come upon the divested section’s of the city and the sailor quickly goes to work getting food, liquor and a prostitute while Candide is injured and Pangloss is far to interested in analyzing the situation.

Through this section of the story Voltaire’s Candide is continuously against optimism we can see some in the case of the sailor that he said to himself “What can I do to have a good time here?” so instead of helping we went to work doing for him self and making sure that everything was going to be ok.

The Lisbon earthquake is in the story solely of the purpose if illustrating Voltaire’s beliefs on the optimism theory. This was an interesting paper to think about and there was a lot if interesting history of Portugal to be learned.

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