Historical and Commemorative Medals
Collection of Benjamin Weiss


by GASPAR, José: Portugal, 1775, Silver, 46 mm
Equestrian statue of José I of Portugal on a plinth .MAGNANIMO RESTITUTORI. (Great Restorer) Below: .MDCCLXXV.
Rev: Standing before a portico, a crowned Lusitania urges the personifications of Trade, Navigation, Architecture, and others to rise up after the destruction caused by the Great Lisbon Earthquake.   POST FATA RESURGENS
Exergue: OLISIPO
Ref: Lamas 40; Würz 4150; Weiss BW658

José I Manoel Francisco (Joseph Emanuel Braganza) (1714-1777), King of Portugal from 1750-1777, was the son of Joao V, one in a long line of the Braganza dynasty in Portugal. The brilliant statesman Sebastiao José de Carvalho e Mello, Marques de Pombal, was the virtual ruler of the country during his reign.

The reign of José I was characterized by a major earthquake, which struck Lisbon in 1755. The earthquake produced massive damage spawned by tsunamis and fires, leaving Lisbon in ashes and causing the deaths of as many as half of Lisbon’s inhabitants. Although it was not the strongest or most deadly earthquake in human history, its impact, not only on Portugal but on all of Europe, was profound and lasting. Its widespread physical effects aroused a wave of scientific interest and research into earthquakes and may have been the impetus for starting the infant science of seismology. Depictions of the earthquake in art and literature can be found in several European countries, and these were produced and reproduced for centuries following the event, which came to be known as "The Great Lisbon Earthquake." (Taken, in part from University of California at Berkeley).

This medal, struck in 1775, commemorates the restoration of the city of Lisbon following this devastating earthquake.

Lusitania was an ancient Roman province including approximately all of modern Portugal. It is still often used as an alternative name for Portugal.

LINK to 1755 Lisbon Earthquake (from About.com)

LINK to 1755 Lisbon Earthquake (from University of California, Berkeley)

LINK to Portrait and Biography of Joseph I of Portugal (from wikipedia)

LINK to Statue of José I in Lisbon (Weiss photo)

LINK to general discussion of Earthquakes (Link kindly provided by  Steven in Mrs. Kelly Harris's 4th grade class)