For Americans, Vasco de Gama (1460-1524), Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521), and perhaps to a lesser extint, Bartolomeu Dias (1451-1500), all come to mind as famous Portuguese exploeres, all sailing the world during the Portuguese Golden Age of Exploration. (Although Christopher Columbus married a Portuguese lady and had a son with her, and even lived and traveled out of Lisbon for a while, he was Italian.) And indeed these men accomplished a great deal for the world and their country!
However, what struck me as a defining point of history was far more recent; the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. This natural disaster occurred on 1 November, so you can imagine all the religious leaders and believers thinking indeed it was the end of the world. Although, as massive as the quake was, anyone caught up in it would believe that.
With a population of about 200,000, estimates of death loss in Lisboa alone are up to 100,000. However, this seems to be a lot of debate. Who was killed by the earthquake? or the fires that consumed a good portion of the city? or was it those who rushed to areas near the water and were swept away by tsunami 40 minutes later? Whatever the numbers, the loss of life and destruction of almost the entire city is one of the greatest natural disasters in recorded history (barring Noah’s flood, of course).
The effects of this earthquake were felt in Scandinavia and maybe in Iceland. Recently (2015), documentation was found that indicates high waves were experienced as far away as Brazil! The time after the Great Earthquake was the birth of modern seismology.
We think that disasters are worse now, but i suspect that may not be the case, however, they do occur and are ‘rumoured’ (reported) more frequently and immediately due to modern communications. And these will continue until the end.