Basel earthquake 1356

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Basel earthquake
Basel earthquake in 1356 (Canton Basel-Landschaft)
Coordinates 610 957  /  259 259 coordinates: 47 ° 29 '2 "  N , 7 ° 35' 2"  O ; CH1903:  610957  /  259259
date 10/18/1356
Time 21:30 UTC
intensity on the MM scale
Magnitude 6.0 to 7.1  M L
epicenter Reinach
country Switzerland , Germany
Affected places
dead 100-2000
The earthquake in Basel on a depiction by the history painter Karl Jauslin

The Basel earthquake is a series of tremendous tremors that shattered Basel from the afternoon of October 18 (“ Lukastag ”) in 1356 . Its intensity is estimated according to the damage at level X (devastating earthquake) on the Modified Mercalli scale .


The earthquake started around four in the afternoon with a first shock. Many houses and the choir of the Basel Minster collapsed. Panicked, the townspeople fled to the open field. In the evening from ten o'clock to midnight, further, more severe bumps followed. Damage was found up to 50 kilometers away. The city caught fire, the roof of the minster collapsed into the nave and destroyed the altars, the organ and the pictures. According to the sources, the fire raged for eight days until it finally found no more food. Almost all of the city's churches and forty castles in the vicinity were damaged.

The center of the earthquake was below the village of Reinach , a few kilometers south of the city of Basel. There is a deep crack in the earth's crust that extends from Aesch in two arms far north. The Birs and Rhine plains sank into the depths along this fissure many millions of years ago .


The number of fatalities from the quake was limited as many fled the city in the afternoon after the foreshock. The information on the number of fatalities is given differently in the various historical sources. Some assume around 100 deaths, others name 300, 1,000 or 2,000 deaths. Reconstruction could begin very soon, and by the early summer of 1357 Basel had returned to normal city life. Until around 1370, the buildings destroyed by the earthquake were restored.

A memorial in Reinach , a cross, commemorates the earthquake in Basel and the story or legend of Count Walram von Thierstein from the earthquake time.


Earthquake cross.  In memory of the earthquake on October 18, 1356. Location, Krummenrainweg, Reinach.  Count Walram III.  von Thierstein-Pfeffingen (also Walram or Walraff von Thierstein).
Earthquake Cross in Reinach

Most expert reports, which were sometimes based on historical reports and the investigation of the existing damage to castles, estimate the strength of the earthquake at 6.0 to 6.3 on the Richter scale . However, more recent studies also give higher values, for example GFZ 6.6 in 2006 , Swiss Seismological Service 6.7 to 7.1 in 2004 and the PEGASOS study by the Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate 6.0 to 7.0 in 2002–2004 .

"The earthquake that occurred on October 18, 1356 in the region of Basel is the strongest historically documented earthquake in central Europe."

"The earthquake that occurred in the Basel area on October 18, 1356 is the strongest ever documented in Central Europe."

- Earthquake Statistics Group : ETH Zurich


Archaeologists reconstructed the effects of the earthquake in the local archaeological information center in Lohnhof , in whose corner tower as part of the former city wall the damage caused by the quake can still be seen today, with the exhibition Basel, 1070-1358 AD: Medieval City Wall Tower .

See also


  • Werner Meyer : Basel would fall into disrepair everywhere. The Basel earthquake of 1356 . With a geological contribution by Hans Peter Laubscher. Schwabe, Basel 2006, ISBN 3-7965-2196-7
  • D. Fäh, M. Gisler, B. Jaggi, P. Kästli, T. Lutz, V. Masciadri, C. Matt, D. Mayer-Rosa, D. Rippmann, G. Schwarz-Zanetti, J. Tauber, T. Wenk: The 1356 Basel earthquake. An interdisciplinary revision. In: Geophysical journal international , Vol. 178, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford 2009, ISSN  0956-540X 1365-246X, pp. 351-374.
  • Gerhard Fouquet: The earthquake in Basel 1356 - for a cultural history of disasters. In: Basler Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Altertumskunde. Volume 103 (2003), doi : 10.5169 / seals-118467 , pp. 31-49.
  • Julius Birlin: The great earthquake of 1356 in Basel and the surrounding area. In: Das Markgräflerland, issue 1/1992, p. 184 digitized version of the Freiburg University Library
  • Werner Meyer: The Basel earthquake of 1356 and the damage it caused. In: Our art monuments - newsletter for members of the Society for Swiss Art History; Volume 41 (1990), doi : 10.5169 / seals-393814 , pp. 162-168.
  • Basel in the fourteenth century. Historical representations of the fifth secular celebration of the earthquake on S. Lucastage in 1356. Published by the Basler Historischen Gesellschaft. Basel 1856 ( in the google book search )
  • Christian Adolf Müller: The castles around Basel and the earthquake of 1356. In: Basler Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Altertumskunde, Volume 55 (1956), doi : 10.5169 / seals-117002 , pp. 25–73
  • Wilhelm Theodor Streuber : About the earthquake of 1356. In: Basler Taschenbuch on the years 1854 and 1855, 5th and 6th year, Basel 1855, pp. 165–187 ( online at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek )
  • Wilhelm Wackernagel: On the history of the great earthquake. In: Basler Taschenbuch on the year 1862, volume 10, Basel 1862, pp. 233–248 ( online at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek )
  • Andreas Staehelin: The Basel earthquake. In: Basler Jahrbuch 1956 , pp. 12–16.
  • Max Bider: The earthquake activity in Basel and the surrounding area since the great earthquake. In: Basler Jahrbuch 1956 , pp. 17–44.

Web links

Commons : Basler Erdbeben 1356  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Significant Earthquake. In: Retrieved February 1, 2012 .
  2. Significant Earthquake. 1356-10-18. Retrieved January 16, 2010 ( NOAA earthquake database ).
  3. Samuel Schumacher: Earthquake in Basel: In 1356 an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.6 struck Basel - that could happen again In: Aargauer Zeitung of August 27, 2016
  4. Stefan Grathoff: Burgenlexikon: The Great Quake of Basel in 1356. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on January 7, 2011 ; Retrieved March 11, 2010 .
  5. 1356 Basel Earthquake - 650-Year Retrospective. P. 5 (PDF; 1.0 MB).
  6. Central Nucléaire de Fessenheim - appréciation du risque sismique. P. 13 ff. (PDF; 2.2 MB).
  7. Seismic Hazard Assessment of Switzerland, 2004. (PDF; 22.4 MB) (No longer available online.) P. 18 , archived from the original on September 20, 2011 ; accessed on January 16, 2010 (earthquake risk in Switzerland).
  8. ^ Badische Zeitung: Archaeologists reconstruct the severe earthquake of 1356 - Basel - Badische Zeitung . ( [accessed on November 5, 2017]).