On This Day
1580 – One of the largest earthquakes recorded in the history of England, Flanders, or Northern France, takes place.
Though severe earthquakes in the north of France and Britain are rare, the 1580 Dover Straits earthquake appears to have been one of the largest in the recorded history of England, Flanders or northern France. Its effects started to be felt in London at around six o’clock in the evening of 6 April 1580, being Wednesday in the Easter week.
Location and magnitude
A study undertaken during the design of the Channel Tunnel estimated the magnitude of the 1580 quake at 5.3–5.9 ML and its focal depth at 20–30 km, in the lower crust. Being relatively deep, the quake was felt over a large area and it is not certain where the epicentre was located. The Channel Tunnel study proposed three possible locations, two south of Calais and one offshore. The barycentre of the isoseismals with intensities IV to VII lies in the Boulonnais, 10 km east of Desvres, the barycentre of the VII isoseismal lies about 1 km northeast of Ardres, and the barycentre of the only pleistoseismal zone lies in the English Channel.
The British Geological Survey estimates the magnitude to be 5.7–5.8 ML.
The earthquake is well recorded in contemporary documents, including the “earthquake letter” from Gabriel Harvey to Edmund Spenser mocking popular and academic methods of accounting for the tremors. It fell during Easter week, an omen-filled connection that was not lost on the servant-poet James Yates, who wrote ten stanzas on the topic:
Oh sudden motion, and shaking of the earth,
No blustering blastes, the weather calme and milde:
Good Lord the sudden rarenesse of the thing
A sudden feare did bring, to man and childe,
They verely thought, as well in field as Towne,
The earth should sinke, and the houses all fall downe.
Well let vs print this present in our heartes,
And call to God, for neuer neede we more:
Crauing of him mercy for our misdeedes,
Our sinfull liues from heart for to deplore,
For let vs thinke this token doth portend,
If scourge nere hand, if we do still offend.
Yates’ poem was printed in 1582 in The Castell of Courtesy.
English writer Thomas Churchyard, then aged 60, was in London when the quake struck and he drafted an immediate account which was published two days later. In his 2007 biography of Richard Hakluyt, historian Peter C. Mancall provides extensive extracts from Churchyard’s 8 April 1580 pamphlet, A Warning to the Wyse, a Feare to the Fond, a Bridle to the Lewde, and a Glasse to the Good; written of the late Earthquake chanced in London and other places, the 6th of April, 1580, for the Glory of God and benefit of men, that warely can walk, and wisely judge. Set forth in verse and prose, by Thomas Churchyard, gentleman. Mancall notes that Churchyard’s pamphlet provides a sense of immediacy so often lacking in retrospective writing. According to Churchyard, the quake could be felt across the city and well into the suburbs, as “a wonderful motion and trembling of the earth” shook London and “Churches, Pallaces, houses, and other buildings did so quiver and shake, that such as were then present in the same were toosed too and fro as they stoode, and others, as they sate on seates, driven off their places.”
The English public was so eager to read about the quake that a few months later, Abraham Fleming was able to publish a collection of reports of the Easter Earthquake, including those written by Thomas Churchyard, Richard Tarlton (described as the writing clown of Shakespeare’s day), Francis Schackleton, Arthur Golding, Thomas Twine, John Philippes, Robert Gittins, and John Grafton, as well as Fleming’s own account. Published by Henry Denham on 27 June 1580, Fleming’s pamphlet was titled: A Bright Burning Beacon, forewarning all wise Virgins to trim their lampes against the coming of the Bridegroome. Conteining A generall doctrine of sundrie signes and wonders, specially Earthquakes both particular and generall: A discourse of the end of this world: A commemoration of our late Earthquake, the 6 of April, about 6 of the clocke in the evening 1580. And a praier for the appeasing of Gods wrath and indignation. Newly translated and collected by Abraham Fleming.
Born On This Day
1787 – Celestina Cordero, Puerto Rican educator (d. 1862)
Celestina Cordero (April 6, 1787 – January 18, 1862), was an educator who in 1820 founded the first school for girls in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Cordero (birth name: Celestina Cordero y Molina [note 1]) was second of three children born in San Juan, Puerto Rico to Lucas Cordero and Rita Molina. Her older sister was named Gregoria and her younger brother was Rafael Cordero. Cordero’s father, a former slave, was a “Freeman.” In 1789, the Spanish Crown issued the “Royal Decree of Graces of 1789,” also known as El Código Negro (The Black Code). In accordance with El Código Negro a slave could buy their freedom and thus a former slave would become known as “freeman” or “freewoman.”
Cordero’s family moved to the town of San German. Her father was an experienced artisan who also worked in the tobacco fields. During his free time he taught his children and those in the neighborhood his artisan skills, while Cordero’s mother taught her children the importance of obtaining an education.
Cordero’s parents taught her and her siblings how to read and write. Inspired by her mother’s teachings, Cordero developed the love of teaching others. It was in San German where Cordero and her brother began their careers as educators.
During the Spanish colonization of the island, Puerto Rico, which depended on an agricultural economy, had an illiteracy rate of over 80% at the beginning of the 19th century. Most women were home educated. The first library in Puerto Rico was established in 1642 in the Convent of San Francisco, and access to its books was limited to those who belonged to the religious order. The only women who had access to the libraries and who could afford books, were the wives and daughters of Spanish government officials or wealthy landowners. Those who were poor had to resort to oral story-telling in what are traditionally known in Puerto Rico as Coplas and Decimas.
Cordero and her brother moved back to San Juan. Despite the fact that she was subject to racial discrimination because she was a black free woman, she continued to pursue her goal of teaching others regardless of their race and or social standing. In 1820, Cordero founded the first school for girls in San Juan, the first of its kind in Puerto Rico. Cordero also presented herself as a public speaker in favor of women’s public education. After several years of struggle, the Spanish government officially gave her the title of teacher and accredited her school as an official educational institution.
Cordero never married and died penniless in her home in San Juan on January 18, 1862. Puerto Rico recognized her brother Rafael as “The Father of Public Education” in Puerto Rico. However, her contributions to the educational system of the island are seldom mentioned. It should also be noted that on December 9, 2013, Pope Francis advanced the sainthood of her brother when he declared that he lived the Christian virtues in a heroic way and is venerable.
In 2012, the library of the Dr.José Celso Barbosa Jr. High School dedicated its “Women Day” to Celestina Cordero.
Remedios: Stories of Earth and Iron from the History of Puertorriquenas; by Aurora Levins Morales; pub. South End Press; ISBN 978-0896086449
By Meg Kinnard: Ex-US Sen Ernest ‘Fritz’ Hollings of South Carolina dead
Ernest Frederick “Fritz” Hollings (January 1, 1922 – April 6, 2019) was an American politician who served as a United States Senator from South Carolina from 1966 to 2005. A Democrat, he was also the Governor of South Carolina and the 77th Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina. He served alongside Republican Senator Strom Thurmond for 36 years, making them the longest-serving Senate duo in history. At the time of his death, he was the oldest living former U.S. Senator.
Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Hollings graduated from The Citadel in 1942 and joined a law practice in Charleston after attending the University of South Carolina School of Law. During World War II, he served as an artillery officer in campaigns in North Africa and Europe. After the war, Hollings successively won election to the South Carolina House of Representatives, as Lieutenant Governor, and as Governor. He sought election to the Senate in 1962 but was defeated by incumbent Olin D. Johnston.
Johnston died in 1965, and the following year Hollings won a special election to serve the remainder of Johnston’s term. Though the Republican Party became increasingly dominant in South Carolina after 1966, Hollings remained popular and continually won re-election, becoming one of the longest-serving Senators in U.S. history. Hollings sought the Democratic nomination in the 1984 presidential election but dropped out of the race after the New Hampshire primary. He declined to seek re-election in 2004 and was succeeded by Republican Jim DeMint.
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