Medieval earthquakes in Barcelona
Various earthquakes shook Barcelona – and Catalonia – in the latter third of the 14th century and the first half of the 15th, but these had an even greater effect on a collective imagination that was already quite shaken.
There were generalised seismic movements throughout the Principality in 1373 and 1448, but also in 1410, 1427 and 1428. Jaume Safont records in his Dietari that on 17 March 1427 the city organised a procession for the earthquakes felt in the city since the first day of the month. He writes how, on 2 February 1428, there was a major earthquake in the city which caused great damage to many houses and pulled down the O of Sancta Maria de la Mar, and killed 16 people, among them a pregnant woman.
Safont also lists the consequences of the earthquake of 1448: it caused major damage to many possessions both inside and outside the city. In the capital, it cracked Castell Nou, creating a crevice through which a man could easily pass. It also damaged the homes of the Abbots of Ripoll and Àger, which stood close to the Church of Sant Miquel, and the homes of the heirs of Bernat Esplugues, Bernat Fivaller, Joan Barqueres and many others.
In the Principality it brought down the Castles of Papiol, killing three men, Sentmenat, killing a boy, Montornès and Llinàs, and crushed and shattered the Castle of Calaf and the home of Ombert de Bigues, killing two women. Nor did the monasteries escape unscathed, as in the case of the Monastery of l’Estany, where a friar died, and part of the churches of Mataró and Granollers, as well as numerous houses and country homes.
See also this fascinating article in English by Barcelona-based geographer Derek Geary on the geology of Catalan earthquakes, including this interesting aside:
It is interesting to note that just before Barcelona was shaken by the September 21 2004 earthquake, a 4.7 earthquake on the adjoining Eurasian plate led to buildings in Kaliningrad on the Russian border with Poland being evacuated. Geologists say that in this case, the tremors were caused by the rising of the Scandinavian plateau, still recovering from the heavy ice sheet that covered the region in the last Ice Age. The two earth tremors may be connected since movements in one plate create new stresses elsewhere. Should Barcelona’s seismic risk be adjusted in the light of today’s melting ice caps?