AHEAD European Archive of Historical EArthquake DataEuropean Archive of Historical EArthquake Data

Elenco studiData sources
Elenco terremotiEarthquakes

Ambraseys, 1997

Ambraseys N.N., 1997. Investigation of earthquakes (1400-1899) in the Balkan area. Internal report for the BEECD project, ICST, London, 102 pp.


This event, apparently a destructive earthquake in Thrace which caused extensive damage and much loss of life, appears, however, to be spurious, or at the very least, the subject of greatly exaggerated accounts.

In an Italian dispatch dated Constantinople, 15 July 1542 we read that amongst myriad calamities, "... on 12 June, about midnight, there was a terrible earthquake that cast to the ground many noble and worthy buildings, among which half of the palace of the Signor, and there were here 2,000 people killed. It ruined almost all of the New Palace killing 24 favourites of the Sultan ... all the janissaries who were on guard were either killed or injured; the ruin was great, but more important was the loss of human and animal life. There are 120,000 dead and innumerable animals lost in the cities of Constantinople, Adrianople, Callipoli and in their respective districts...".

Another, more sober version in German, again from Istanbul and with the same date, says that "... in June 1542 there was an awful earthquake in Constantinople, Adrianople, Cassiopol (Gallipoli/Gelibolu) and within twenty miles (150 km) circuit from them ...".

In a letter, dated Augsburg, 21 Nov. 1542, we read that as a result of an earthquake in Constantinople on 20 August 1542, 1,700 houses in the city collapsed killing 4,500 people, details which are subsequently reproduced in later sources.

This earthquake is often reported by later writers together with a destructive earthquake in Scarperia in Tuscia (Tuscany), in Italy, which occurred on almost the same date, 13 June 1542; a misprint in a contemporary fly-sheet, transformed "Tuscia" into "Turcia".

About the same time an unnamed place a day's march from Thessaloniki was overwhelmed by a landslide (?), which caused the death of all its inhabitants, but it is unlikely that this was associated with an earthquake.

The anonymous pamphlets in which is reported this earthquake are essentially similar in form and content, indicating translation and revision from a common source. A modern study of these pamphlets proposes that the contemporary European press was wont to publish "news" concerning the Ottomans at times when relations were unstable, or on the occasion of an Ottoman military victory, in order to encourage confidence that they would be overcome by the West.

The probability that this event was spurious is compounded by the fact that we have been unable to locate corroborating evidence in Ottoman sources; moreover, a detailed, new history of the Topkapi Palace, based on contemporary sources, makes no reference to such an event. Several of the pamphlets also refer to a conflagration and thunderstorms at this time; if not fabricated, the exaggerated damage ascribed to an earthquake could possibly have been due to these calamities.

Nell'archivio c'è un terremoto da questo studio:In the archive there is one earthquake considered from this study:

molto grandiextra large
molto piccolivery small
non parametrizzatinot determined

Clicca sulla riga per individuare il terremoto sulla mappa o sulla lente per ottenere più informazioni.Click the row to highlight the earthquake on the map or the lens to obtain more information.

  DataDate    Area epicentraleEpicentral area    MDPs   Imax  EQ in
EQ in
Riferim. in
1542 06 12Thrace  -  -