The General HISTORY of Earthquakes

The General

An Account of the most Remarkable and Tremendous Earthquakes that have happened in divers parts of the World, from the Creation to this time; As they are recorded by Sacred and Common Authors; And particularly those lately in
Jamaica and
With a description of the famous burning Mount, Aetna, in that Island; And a Relation of the several dreadful Conflagrations and Fiery Irruptions thereof for many Ages.
Likewise the Natural and Material Causes of Earthquakes, with the usual Signs and Prognosticks of their approach; And the Consequents and Effects that have followed several of them.
By R. B.
LONDON, Printed for Nath. Crouch at the Bell in the Poultrey near Cheapside. 1694.




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  • XXVII. In the first Century was a terrible Earthquake in Arabia, and another in Palestina and a third at Constantinople for six weeks together. It rained Bloud in Piedmont, and at York the Fountains ran Bloud: a Dragon and many Serpents were seen in the River Tyber. After this so terrible a Famine raged in Brittain that the People assembled [Page 45] in great numbers to cast themselves into the Sea; A Plague so great in Rome that 800 men fell dead in an hour in the time of Procession. Brunchild, a Daughter of France, being found guilty of the death of ten Kings; She is tyed by the Hair of the Head and the Arms to Wild Horses, and torn to pieces. The Jew and Samaritanes Persecute the Christians, and burn their Churches in Caesaria.

  • XXVIII. In the sixth seventh and eighth Centuries, an Earthquake at Antioch; Another in Palestina, another in England and Normandy; a fiery Dragon was seen in the Skie, and divers other dreadful Prodigies. About the same time there was a violent Earthquake at Constantinople which lasted many days, and every hour the City suffered extraordinary shocks. Many houses were thrown down, but the People betook themselves to Prayer, Fasting and Repentance, and the Almighty had compassion on them; Many Cities in the East were ruined by it, and the City of Alexandria was fore shaken therewith, which was the more astonishing because it seldom happens in those parts. Some years after, Constantinople was again shaken so violently that not only the Walls and Churches but all Greece [Page 46] trembled therewith. The Saracens about this Age, Besieged Constantinople for seven years and at last thirty thousand of them were slain. The King of Scots is slain by the Picts. A Pestilence in Constantinople for three years, which devoured so many that the living were not sufficient to bury the Dead. Alphonsus King of Portugal killeth seventy thousand Moors and taketh Lisbon from them. The Danes Invade England, but all of them almost perished. The Brittains Invade Scotland, Constantine their, King was killed. The Saracens take Armoricum and many Captives; Lothair Wars with his Brethren, and an hundred thousand men are slain. In 801. while Charles the Great was in Italy there was an Earthquake with great noises, which shook all France and Germany, but especially Italy; it overthrew several Towers and even Mountains; and the Church of St. Paul at Rome was destroyed by it, whereupon Pope Leo III. appointed solemn Feasts and Processions. These Prodigies were followed with furious Tempests and Contagious Diseases which affected the Cattel throughout Italy; so that most of their Beasts died. A great Famine and Pestilence in France. The King of England is slain by the East Angles. The [Page 47] Danes enter the Thames with two hundred and fifty Ships, they take Canterbury and London, and expel the King.

  • XXIX In the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Centuries, an Earthquake happened in Scotland, another in France, a very great one in Asia, and several terrible ones with mighty Whirlwinds in Germany; Also a great Earthquake in England, where five Suns appear at one, and afterward four Moons at once. Horrible groans and noises in the ground at Rome. Syracuse in Sicily was extreamly shaken with an Earthquake; A wonderful Hail at Oxford in England, with many other terrible appearences, as Fire-rising out of the River Rhyne, and many places in Germany the Sun appears for certain days as if it bled. In the Reign of King William the Conqueror. 1086. happened an Earthquake with a dreadful noise. In 1100 in the Reign of King Henry I. the Earth moved with so reat violence in England, that many buildings where shaken down; and Malmesbury the Historian writes, That the House wherein he sate was lifted up with a double remove, and at the third time setled again in its proper place. In divers places a hideous noise was heard, and the Earth through several rifts cast forth [Page 48] Fire for many days together, which neither by Water, nor any other means could be supprest. In Lumbardy in Italy about the same time was an Earthquake which lasted above six weeks, and removed a Town from the place where it stood a great distance. Matthew Paris mentions another Earthquake, and a great Darkness in England about twenty years after; And another in the Reign of King Henry II. in the Eastern parts of England, which threw down many Persons who were standing or walking, and made the Clocks to strike and Bells to ring in the Steeples. In 1179 on Christmas day at Oxenhall near Darlington in the County of Durham, the Earth was lifted up aloft like a Tower, and so continued all that day, as it were immoveable till Evening, and then fell with so horrible a noise that it affrighted the Inhabitants thereabout, and the Earth swallowing it up, made in the same place three Pits of wonderful depth, which were afterward called Hell-Kettles. It is reported that Bishop Tonstal put a Goose into one of these Pits, having first given her a mark, and the same Goose was found in the River Tees, which if true, these Kettles have passages under Ground.

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    XXX. In 1180. an Earthquake ruined a great part of the City of Naples. Great Stones were Rained from Heaven, and a Hill of an immense magnitude is removed out of his place. The City of Catania in Sicily is destroyed with nineteen thousand People by an Earthquake. A multitude of Snakes were seen at Rome, a fiery Dart ran up and down in the Heavens, Women appeared in the Heavens of admirable shapes to the great amazement of the Spectators. About this time the Hungarians Invade the Empire of Germany, but are reconciled. The Bishop of Salsburg calls an hundred thousand Hungarians into Bavaria, which are all slain there and the Emperors Eyes pluckt out. A great Famine in Germany and France. The Prussians Invade Poland, and fifteen thousand of them are Drowned in a Pitfall by the Stratagem of two Bishops in Holland as they came against the Earl of Flanders. Gonsalmus King of Spain Poisons King Sancho with an Apple. The Danes Land in Scotland and wast divrs places, the Scots put them to flight. They Land in Kent and spoil the Isle of Thanet. The King [Page 50] of Denmark is slain by one od his Servants; The Danes being defeated at Oxford fly to the Church, and are there burnt. Otho Emperor of Germany is Poisoned with a pair of Gloves. Pedro King of Spain taketh Oson, and killeth thirty thousand Moors. The English Invade Normandy. Harold Earl of Caithnes in Scotland but out the Bishops Tongue for which the King puts out his Eyes, hangs him, and causeth his Male Children to be Golt. The K. of Iconium is swallowed up by an Earthquake, and in England many Buildings are thrown down by the same means, amongst which the Cathedral Church of Lincoln was rent in pieces.

  • [...]

    In 1593. Another terrible Earthquake happened in Persia, which overturned three thousand Houses in the City of Lair crushing to Death above three thousand Persons in their ruins; yea the Castle though built upon a solid Rock groaned under the like affrighting downfall. In 1614. there was a great Earthquake in Vercer, on the largest of the Islands called Azores, belonging to the King of Portugal, overturning in the City of Agra, eleven Churches, nine Chappels, besides many private Houses: and in the City of Praga hardly an house was lefft standing. Not long after so horrible an Earthquake happened in another of the Islands of Azores called St. Michael aforementioned, that not far from thence the Sea opened, and thrust forth an Island above a League and half in length at a place where there was above a hundred and fifty Fathom Water.


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  • XL. In 1628. The Town of Pleurs in Switzerland was overwhelmed by an Earthquake of which we have the following account in the late Travels of a Reverend Divine in that Countrey. This place consisted in about two thousand two hundred Inhabitants and magnificently built, for besides the great Palace of the Francken that cost some Million, there were many other Palaces, erected by several Rich Factors both of Milan, and other Parts of Italy, who liked the Scituation and Air as well as the freedom of the Government of this place; so they used to come hither during the Heats, and here they gave themselves all the Indulgences that a vast wealth could furnish; By one of the Palaces that was not overwhelmed, one may judg of the rest; It was an Out-house of the Family of the Francken, and yet it may compare with many Palaces in Italy, and certainly House and Gardens could not cost so little as one hundred thousand Crowns.



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  • The aforenamed Kircher made Observation of this Mountain likewise, which he thus relates; That on a certain day viewing Strombolo very curiously, about threescore miles distant, he observed it to be more than ordinarily furious, for it appeared wholly overwhelmed with Fire in so great plenty, that it seemed to belch out flaming Mountains, a most horrendous Spectacle; And then, saith he, I heard a strange kind of dull murmur from the Mountain so far off, which seemed to come towards us under the Earth, till it reached the substerraneous place where we stood, and there uttered such horrible Thundrings within the Earth, with such formidable Earthquakes, that none of them were able to stand on their Feet; After the violence was over, getting up again with unspeakable Consternation, they beheld the destruction and lamentable subversion of the famous; Towns of St. Euphemia three miles off, which happened at that instant, the City, being wholly swallowed up, or seeking for the Town, they found instead thereof, what is wonderful to be realted, nothing but a dark stinking Lake-sprung up in its place, they could find no men nor Inahbitants; Thence passing on their Journey, [Page 115] they found nothing else for Two Hundred miles, but the Carcases of Cities, horrid ruins of Castles, Men stangling up and down in the open Fields, and through horror and famine pining and withering away.

  • LVII. In April 1669. The Mountain Vesuvius aforementioned cast up more Smoak and Ashes than formerly, and for several Nights the neighbouring places were much affrighted with the great Flames which issued from it, accompanied with unusual noises; At the same time they write, That the Vice-Roy of Sicily haiung compassion upon the miserable condition of above thirty thousand poor People, who by their Flight had saved themselves from the Fire of Mount Aetna aforementioned, which had destroyed seventeen or eighteen Towns or Villages, and by the daily approaches to the City of Catania, seemed to threaten it with inevitable ruine, so that the Inhabitants were leaving the place; And that he thereupon sent one of his Officers to take order for the maintainance of those distressed Creatures, and disposing of them into places of safery. June 20. this year at Inspurg in Germany, a little after Noon, there was a very violent Tempest with extraordinary [Page 116] Hail, Rain, Thunder and Lightening, acompanied with an Earthquake, which had such terrible Effects at Schnatz a Town about three miles distant from Inspurg, where the Emperor of Germany had some Silver Mines, that the River which runs through it overflowing, drowned all the adjacent Fields, driving down, and destroying above thirty Houses, endamamging many more, and drowning above two hundred People.

This is a selection from the original text


destruction, earth, famine, pestilence

Source text

Title: The General HISTORY OF Earthquakes

Author: R.B.

Publication date: 1694

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: Date: 1694 Bib Name / Number: Wing / C7328 from: Bodleian Library Durable URL: xri:pqil:res_ver=0.2&rft_id=xri:eebo:citation:18964184

Digital edition

Original author(s): R.B.

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) title page
  • 2 ) pages 44-50
  • 3 ) pages 64-65
  • 4 ) pages 114-116


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