EC project "Review of Historical Seismicity in Europe" (RHISE) 1989-1993

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Andrea Moroni * and Massimiliano Stucchi*

* Istituto di Ricerca sul Rischio Sismico, CNR, via Ampère 56, 20131 Milano, Italy.

Materials for the investigation of the 1564, Maritime Alps earthquake

State of the art
The so-called 'Nice earthquake' of 1564 is currently studied by French (BRGM, Orlèans) and Italian (CNR, Milano) partners. The starting point of the research were the works by Cadiot (1979, 1980), the results of which summarized by Fig. 1, and some addresses sketched by J. Lambert at the beginning of the RHISE project.
In 1989 the French team indexed some potential sources at the National Library (Paris) and searched through the Archives of the Boûches-du-Rhône, Var and Vaucluse Departments (Lambert, 1989). The Italian team has indexed potential sources at the State Archives of Torino and Genova, at some Archives in Liguria and has explored some funds and some local sources (Grillo and Moroni, 1989).
In 1990 the French team investigated the Department of Alpes-de Haute-Provence, Arles and Aix-en-Provence (Lambert, 1990). The Italian team investigated the far-field Italian area; the results of this investigation have been published (Moroni and Grillo, 1991).
In spite of the great amount of sources investigated, the progress in the knowledge of the earthquake remained limited. This is the reason why, before starting investigation in the State Archives of Torino and Genova, the Italian team decided to review the sources used by the main seismological compilations. The results of this analysis are presented in this paper.

The investigation performed by J. Vogt throughout several European depositories has supplied many suggestions and references: some considerations on the earthquake can be found in Vogt (1991).
In 1991 the French team investigated archives and libraries of the Departments of Var and Maritime Alps (Lambert, 1991): the preliminary conclusions from the French side are presented in this volume (Lambert, 1993). The Italian team started investigating the State Archives of Torino (Moroni, 1991 and this paper), Genova and Ventimiglia (Rivara e Vaccari, 1992); the results of this investigation are also reported in this volume (Rivara e Vaccari, 1993). Finally, an investigation at the Vatican Archives has also been performed (Castelli, 1993).

Fig. 1 - The map of the 1564, July 20 earthquake (from Cadiot, 1980).

The context

The earthquake of 1564 plays a major role in the assessment of the seismicity of the Maritime Alps. Actually, looking at the Italian catalogue (Postpischl, 1985), the Nice area seams very active before the XVIII century, and nearly quiescent later (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2 - Seismicity (I0>= 5) of the Maritime Alps, as derived from Postpischl (1985).
a) 1000-1660; b) 1661-1980.

The area where the 1564 earthquake took place can be considered a frontier area between two cultural regions, French and Italian. The Nice area, often called "Les Terres Neuves de Provence" (Fig. 3), was annexed to the Duchy of Savoy in 1388. The Duchy of Savoy, the territory of which developed along both sides of the Alps, settled his capital in Turin only after 1559. The earthquake occurred under Emanuele Filiberto, who tried to develop the Nice area, the only harbour of the Duchy. The principality of Oneglia and the county of Tende were officially annexed to the Duchy in 1576 and 1581. After the Napoleonic period, the Nice area, excluding some limited portions which had been attached to France, was again under the Savoy Kingdom until 1860. A small portion of territory (including Tende and la Brigue) was annexed to France only in 1947 (Fig. 3a).
The peculiarity of this area is underlined also by the gap between the political and ecclesiastical partitions. Actually, the eastern part of the Nissart area belonged to the diocese of Ventimiglia, which covered also territories belonging to the Republic of Genova; the western part was shared among the diocese of Nice and those of Embrun, Glandeve and Vence, which shared also territories belonging to France (Castelli, 1993).

Further than the Nissart area, the earthquake has presumably affected :
- the territory of the Principality of Monaco (Fig. 3b), which was larger in 1564 (Menton and Roquebrune left the Principality in 1848);
- the western part of the Republic of Genova, extinguished in 1797 and later absorbed by the Savoy Kingdom (then Kingdom of Sardinia);
- the southern part of Piemonte (Duchy of Savoy);
- the eastern part of Provence (Kingdom of France).
The complicated history of the area has therefore deeply influenced the distribution of the sources throughout the depositories and it is to be carefully taken into account in order to improve the chance of new findings.

Fig. 3 - Political settlement of the areas sorrounding Nice around 1564 (from Baratier, 1969, modified).

The area where the heaviest damage is supposed to have taken place (Val Vésubie) had been scarcely populated through centuries. Tab. 1 proposes some figures of the population in two different times, taken from a recent paper (Salomone, 1948).

end of XVII


inhab. (estim.)
"chefs de maison"
inhab. (estim.)
Rocca Sparviera




















La Bollène















S. Martin Vésubie











Tab. 1 - Population of some Vésubie villages. The last column indicates the rate of inhabitants at the end of XVII century with respect to 1614.

The number of inhabitants is estimated from the number of "feux" and "chefs de maison". The author underlines that the anomalous increase of the population of Roquebillière and La Bollène from 1614 to the end of XVII century can suggest that the population of the two villages had anomalously dropped before 1614, may be because of earthquakes.

The earthquake in the seismological literature
As a first step, in order to accomplish a preliminary review, it has been checked how the main seismological compilations, covering the area and the time of the earthquake, deals with this event (Tab. 2).

Breventano, 1576


Perrey, 1845
De Rossi, 1889


Sardo, 1586
Pilla, 1846


Mercalli, 1897
Da Secinara, 1652


Perrey, 1847


Baratta, 1899


Bonito, 1691
Perrey, 1848
Baratta, 1901
Seyfart, 1756


Billiet, 1850


Schorn, 1902


Bertrand, 1757


Prost, 1855
Candreia, 1905


De Morani, 1795
Volger, 1857


Milne, 1911
Napione, 1808
Mallet, 1853
Montandon, 1953
Hoff, 1840
Mercalli, 1883
Vogt, 1979

Tab. 2 - Main seismological compilations with respect to the 1564 earthquake:
+ = Positive       - = Negative

Fig. 4 presents a simplified family-tree of the records of the 1564 earthquake, that is the relationship among the records as they are declared by the sources of the compilations.

Fig. 4 - Simplified family-tree of the records of the 1564 earthquake, as derived by the analysis of the main seismologicalcompilations.

By the term "source" it is simply indicated here every "source of information", no matter whether it can be considered a proper "historical source" or simply an historical compilation. This set therefore includes compilations, such as Gioffredo (1692), Scaliero (1795), which quotes sources part of which have been found, or such as Nostradamus (1616) and Musso (1907), the sources of which have not been found. It also includes sources, found or not, which provide information without quoting any further source.

The main compilations

Only a few main compilations contribute at least one independent, coeval source. Four of them are seismological, the rest are historical. In some cases these compilations are the only way to know coeval record, the sources of which are lost, or not found up to now.
Bonito (1691) reports some parts of his sources, mostly from Surio (L. Sauer, 1568) - saying that he exaggerates - and from Bugati (1571). The records are like to come from the "Mogiol set" (1564).

Gioffredo (1692) , nearly contemporary of Bonito (1691), wrote an history of the Maritime Alps, published in 1839, making use, for the 1564 earthquake, of a set of sources from the area of the earthquake itself. Unfortunately, he only summarizes them and he is not very careful in providing bibliographical quotations, so that some of his sources (Blancardi, XVII; Laurenti, XVII) have not been found, yet. He reports that he has seen a map of the earthquake in the Gastaldi tables. This sentence has puzzled many later authors (Mercalli, 1897; Baratta, 1904, 1914; Almagià, 1914; Cadiot, 1979,1980) and has never been proved. A significant part of the present knowledge of this earthquake still relies on Gioffredo, because later compilers, such as Scaliero, Mercalli and Cadiot have widely used his records.
Scaliero (1792) is the author of an history of Nice stored in Municipal Archives of Nice. This manuscript is divided into three parts: description of the town of Nice; facts about saints; sequence of bishops and history of Nice. Only Mercalli (1897) explicitly refers to this source, though he quotes only the title of the third part (" Dei Vescovi di Nizza, e di Cimella, e delle cose degne di memoria accadute in esse"). Cadiot (1979, 1980) knows him through a later, partial copy made by Carlone (1861), quoted as "ms. 97" of the Municipal Library of Nice. Levret (1988) reproduces a few lines referring correctly to the title of the manuscript.
The records of the earthquake are found in the third part, II vol., pp. 209-214. They consist of two parts. In the first one Scaliero (1792) copies the text of Gioffredo (1692). In the second one he adds new sources, such as Lubonis (1565?), Felici (s.d.) and de Salicis (XVI), then he copies a passage of Nostradamus (1616), longer than the one contained in Carlone/ms. 97 (1861). This transcription is faithful with respect to a Nostradamus edition of 1624.
At p. 212, in the margin, there is a record which locates the event on August 1st, 1564 (no sources). Cadiot referred this record to "Anonimo, s.d.". A record of an earthquake in 1566 (which Cadiot refers also as "Anonimo"), is reported in the analytical index, but has not been found. This record, reported by Carlone/ms. 97, could have been written on a flying insert (there are many inside), which can be lost. At p. 214 there is a record concerning a landslide in Valdeblore in 1568 (source: de Salicis, XVI).
According to Toselli (1860), Scaliero uses a lot of sources: compilers, manuscripts and so on. Scaliero does not mention anything about his sources.
De Morani (1795) is the only compilation associating Lombardia to this earthquake, but locates it in January 1564. The source, Sanvino is not known. Investigation has been made in the works of Francesco Sansovino ("Cronologia del mondo", 1582; "Cronico delle cose passate", 1591; "Venezia città nobilissima", 1591), but without success so far .
The so-called ms. 97 (Carlone, 1861) quoted by Cadiot (1979, 1980) is nothing else but an "extract" (see title) of the Scaliero manuscript produced by Auguste Carlone in 1861. Some parts of the Scaliero manuscript have been summarized or omitted. The records of the earthquake are given at p. 37v - 39r of vol. II. The part concerning Gioffredo is omitted, while other parts are incomplete: only the Latin text by Lubonis is reported, the record by Felici contains only the date (20 August); from the text of Nostradamus, only the letter to the count of Tende is given. The transcription of de Salicis is faithful with respect to Scaliero.
The record reported by Scaliero at p. 212 (quoted by Cadiot as "Anonimo, s.d.") is inserted in the text:
Il 1° d'agosto ad un ora di notte si son fatti sentire così gagliardi scuotimenti si tra e principalmente nella valle di S. Martino che vi fecero cadere moltissime case con inesplicabile danno di quei abittanti che quasi tutti ne sono stati consunti e stropii che anzi in varii di que' borghi non vi è restata viva neppure una persona (p. 38r).
The record of a 1566 earthquake, lacking in Scaliero, is present, as well as a record of an earthquake in 1569 at La Bollène:
1566. Per causa del terremoto è caduta rovinosamente una parte d'un monte in vicinanza di Peglia. 1569. Terremoto seguito nel luogo della Bollena con innalzamento di polvere e vapori di zolfo quali durarono per un quarto d'ora col sconquasso di quel paese avendo replicato più e più volte (p. 39r).
It follows a remark concerning how Gioffredo deals with the 1564 earthquake with respect to the attitude of Emanuele Filiberto.
Mercalli (1897) produced a detailed study on the earthquake. He knows most of the main sources, including Scaliero, and he is the first quoting three versions of a German report which later Almagià and Cadiot assume as the Mogiol's letter. He quotes Hoff as negative, and reports data from Sanremo (Nota, 1832; Lotti, 1806?) and Porto Maurizio.
Baratta (1901) follows Mercalli (1897) and adds the information concerning Piemonte, from Grasso Dalmazzo (1570).
Musso (1907) is quoted only by Cadiot (1979, 1980), who deals with the earthquake using three sources: Thaon (1616) and the two manuscripts of Roquebillière (XVI?) and La Bollène (XVII?). Musso is the only author quoting these manuscripts, but he does not say anything about their location. He gives some more information without reporting the sources:
- the 20th of July 1564 "Syndics" of Roquebillière were Jean Drago alias Sésac and Jean Fassi;
- the 2nd of November 1564 the duke Emanuele Filiberto went to survey the damage caused by earthquake (it is to be stressed that Gioffredo, 1692, reports this journey, but says that the duke went to St. Martin to examine his mines and that in this circumstance he pronounced a sentence about some controversies between St. Martin and Venanson);
- the governor of Nice - Thomas de Valperga - organized the rescue (in this case the source used by Musso could be Durante (1832) also quoted by Mercalli, 1897). According to Baratier (1969), in 1564 the Governor was Honoré de Grimaldi de Beuil;
- in 1572 the inhabitants of Roquebillière asked Honoré Lascaris, commandant of the "Viguerie de Sospel", to build up a chapel in the town square.

The main sources
Some of the sources quoted by the main compilations are of great importance, either because they are contemporary to the event or (and) because they provide (so far) unique information.

The "Mogiol set" (1564)
The map and the letter, found at the Erlangen Library in a broadsheet printed by Hanns Adam (Mogiol, 1564), represent one of the most important, coeval source for this earthquake, and have served as basic reference for most historians and seismologists who have dealt with this earthquake. But some problems are still unsolved.

The map. Two versions of the map are known. The coloured one (Mogiol, 1564) was published by several authors (Strauss, 1975; Cadiot, 1980; Deresiewicz, 1982; Kozák and Thompson, 1991); the second one, published and discussed by Almagià (1914), differs from the first one for some details and, mostly, for the fact that it contains a scroll in Italian, which summarizes the effects of the earthquake. Some localities presented as damaged on both maps, such as Rocca Marina, Sandalingi, Villaret, are not definitely identified; the other four damaged localities (Morena/La Bollène, Rocca Baliera/Roquebillière, Roccia/La Roche, Repelle/Rimplas) are heavily mislocated with respect to the undamaged ones.
The letter. The author is supposed to be a Genoese merchant, therefore the original text should have been in Italian, but it has not been found so far. The relationship between map and text is evident in the content of the text, thought it does not mention the map explicitly. This fact can support also the hypothesis that text and map came from different authors and had just been printed together by Hanns Adam. Some different versions of the letter have been found, but it seems very difficult to draw conclusions about the filiation of them at this stage. Tab. 3 presents a comparison among some elements - earthquake date and locality names - of these versions.

Nürnberg, 1564


Dillingen, 1564

Augsburg, 1565

Augsburg, 1566












18 Augusti 1564

17 Augusti

18 Augusti
Anno 1566

XX. IULY [1564]


zwantzigte tag
des Monats July

20 Julij [1564]

20. Juli




Rocca. Billiorum.

Rocca Marina,


Rocamarina /

Repella /
Sandalingi /
Roccaballiera /
Vilaret /
Morena / unnd

Rocca Marina /
die anderen
/ Rocca Belgina /
Vilant /
Morena und


Villa Frantiae

Villa franca


Villa Franca

Tab. 3 - Earthquake date and damaged localities as quoted by six different versions of the Mogiol letter.

Lubonis, 1565 (?)
Scaliero (1792, p. 211) reports: "Il Sig.r Nottaro Giò Lubonis Cittadino di Nizza ha nottato il suddetto Terremoto in un suo Protocollo à fogli 79 retro del 1564 in idioma latino, qual ho tradotto in lingua italiana come segue". It follows the translation of the text from Latin to Italian. Firmly inserted through the pages 211 and 212 there is a Latin text, written by a different hand:
De admirabili hora et horrendo terremotu in comitatu Niciense facto.
Anno ipsi millesimo quingentesimo
[quinquagesimo deleted] sexagesimo quarto indictione septima et die iovis vigesima iulii circa unam horam noctis fuit quidam terremotus in Comitatu Niciense Ö in loco Saurgi una pars Castri devastata fuit, Castrum pene dictionis janue devastatum fuit, pars Castri Vigintimiglie pariter ruinata fuit et quam pluries allii loci devastati fuerunt et continuavit ipse terremotus per aliquot dies
et terremotus ipse continuavit usque ad festum pentecoste et sic fere per unum annum

a fol. 79 dicto, del prottocolo di Gio. Lubonis del 1564 (Scaliero, 1792).
Mercalli reports almost entirely the Latin text, omitting a few sentences, among which the one concerning " indictione septima". This sentence is also omitted in the Italian text of Scaliero. Actually "indictione septima" corresponds to the year 1564 (Cappelli, 1978); further, according to Cappelli (1978), the 20 of July was a Thursday, which is consistent with " die iovis".
It is also to be stressed that the text, which Scaliero says found annexed to the 1564 notary protocol (and confirmed by the last line below the Latin text), mentions that the earthquake continued until Pentecoste (must be that of 1565), lasting nearly one year. Therefore it doesn't seem reasonable that it was written in 1564.
The Latin text makes clear that " Castrum pene dictionis Janue" is the castle of Pena (also La Penna, la Piena, or la Piene), former stronghold of the Republic of Genova ( [juris] dictionis Janue), annexed to France in 1947, today Piene Haute (Fig. 3).
No trace of any notary called Lubonis (Lubon) has been found during a rapid survey (ADN, XV-XIX). The only Lubonis found is a Louis (1815- 1893), which Derlange (1988) said to be descendant " d'une famille fixée à Nice depuis le XVIe siècle".

Grasso Dalmazzo, 1570

Baratta (1901) quotes in his "Appendice", the edition of this Cronaca published by Promis (1871). This Cronaca covers the period 1484-1570 and appears as a continuation of the previous Chronicum Cunei (Rebaccini, 1484ca). Grasso Dalmazzo probably was born in S. Dalmazzo (now Borgo S. Dalmazzo) and there he lived. His Cronaca tells about this village and the near town of Cuneo.
The Cronaca reports that in the 1564, July 20, an earthquake was felt " in queste nostre bande del Piemonte"; up to now this is the only one positive information about Piemonte.
The search for the original manuscript has not obtained positive results: it seems that the original has been lost. Some copies, written in XVIII and XIX, are at the Biblioteca Civica of Cuneo, but they don't contain the sentence about the earthquake. Another copy is in Torino, Biblioteca Reale. It was made in 1768 by Nallino (1768) and Promis (1871) used it for his edition.

de Salicis, XVI

Scaliero says that Giovanni Andrea de Salicis was prior of Val de Blore - priorate at that time dependent on the abbey of S. Dalmazzo di Pedona, now Borgo S. Dalmazzo, Cuneo - and quotes the parish books which should have reported the earthquake on May 5, 1564:
Il Prete Giovanni Andrea Salicis Priore della Val di Blora lasciò scritto ne suoi libri della Parochia esser seguito li 5 maggio 1564 un Terremoto che la scossa durò un quarto d'hora, e che la Parochia di S. Giacomo in detta Valle annessa alla principal Parocchia di San Dalmazzo Val di Blora si sobbissò, e resovi morto il Signor Claudio Guigo, e che i Libri Baptisatorum, e tutti gli altri della Parochia restarono ivi sepolti, che in seguito di tal sobbissamento fu duopo formar da vicino una Cappella con assi, ò sii tavole di bosco, ove pendente un anno, e mezzo si fecero le funzioni Parocchiali, e che il luogo della Rochia quasi tutto si sobbissò per fatto di detto Terremoto, e restaronvi morte 50 Persone, detto Luogo della Rocchia è luogo mezzano fra S. Dalmazzo, e la Bolina, benche componenti tra tutti una sol Communità (Scaliero, 1792).
From this account we know that the " parrocchia" di S. Giacomo (does it mean parish church or territory?) collapsed and that 50 people died at la Rocchia (la Roche). He precises that la Rocchia is between " S. Dalmazzo and la Bolina" (la Bolline, not to be confused with La Bollène), but he does not account for damage at S. Dalmazzo and la Bolina.

The author also accounts, through Scaliero, that in 1568 the area suffered from landslides and flooding due to heavy rains.

Il suddetto prete Giovanni Andrea Salicis Prior della Valdiblora seguita a scrivere ne suoi libri della Parochia che nel 1568 per causa delle grandi pioge la terra formò delle grandi rovine, tal ché dai monti di Raja, e Giubiar le acque intorbidite discesero nel Piano, et distrussero una gran possessione di coltivo terreno, che dice esser esso Terreno il più bello di quella valle, e che fu causa di grandi dissenzioni fra il popolo per non poter più riconoscere l'estenzione della loro proprietà (Scaliero, 1792).
Carlone copied these records from Scaliero without alterations.
Following the paper "Le prieuré de Valdeblore", published by Nice Historique in 1953, Giovanni Andrea de Salicis was charged on April 30, 1565, after the previous prior, Ludovic Grimaldi, resigned in 1565.

Boyer, XVI
The records of the earthquake by Pierre Antoine Boyer are known only through Gioffredo and from him through Scaliero, who copies Gioffredo, and Mercalli. Gioffredo reports through him that the earthquake lasted about 50 days and that Roquebillière and Belvédère were exempted from taxes for 10 years.

This source has not been found. Toselli (1860) quotes a manuscript about the history of Nice in Italian and Latin.

Nostradamus, 1616
The author is Ceasar Nostradamus, the eldest son of the celebrated Michel (who spent the last part of his life in Salon-de-Provence, where he received the King Charles on October 17, 1564, and died on July 2, 1566). The text contains the well known letter to the count of Tende and a report said to have been left " on a roll written in nissard by someone from the Nice area who passed at Salon in the same times" of the event.
Scaliero (1792) transcribes, with some adjustments, the whole text of both letter and report. After the text, Scaliero adds a remark: " queste nove furono scritte al suddetto Conte di Tenda dalle Parti di Terranuova, cioé della valle d'Entraunes, Contado di Boglio, e Valle della Tinea, di Lantosca, e di Sospello".
Carlone/ms. 97 (1861) transcribes only the letter and the remark, and summarizes the report as follows: " Scalier continue sa citation de Cesar Nostradamus et passe à millé contes qui n'ajoutent rien à tout ce sombre tableau".

Letter. It can be stressed that:

- C. Nostradamus says that certain letters were written from the area of Terreneuve to the Count of Tende, who was likely Claude, son of Renée de Savoie, count of Tende. Claude was Governor of Provence in 1564 (died in 1566); this could explain the reason why Ceasar de Nostradamus could have access to the letter(s).
- The author of the letter is not reported.
- The date of the letter is reported as XX July. This appears inconsistent with the fact that the letter itself reports 20 July as the earthquake date. Nevertheless there is no special evidence to assert, as Mercalli does, that the solution is an error in the name of the month and that, therefore, the date should be corrected as XX August. If we assume that the 20 July is right for the earthquake, the "error" could be as well in the day of the letter: XXX July, or any day between XX and XXX, could also fit in.
- The text is given in French, but nothing is known about the original. As the letter mentions only Nice and Ventimille explicitly, it would not be unreasonable that it could have been written in Italian, or "Nissard".
- The explanation that Terranuova means the valley of Entraunes, County of Boglio (Beuil), and the Valley of Tinea (Tinée), Lantosca (Lantosque-Vesubie) and Sospello (Sospel) does not belong to the letter itself: it was added by Scaliero (1792) and, later, by Carlone/ms. 97 (1861) - and, by the way, incorporated into the text in the transcription found in Levret (1988). It does not seem to have any relationship with the location of the damage.

Report. The text introduces the locality of Mage, never quoted so far by the seismological compilations: "En ce mesme temps passa par nostre ville de Sallon, un qui se disoit de ces quartiers là, [......], laissa un roolle en sa langue naturelle et Nissarde qui est comme un vieil Provençal des villes et chasteaux ruynez: en premier lieu Roche Begleure, et Mage où estoyent restés morts et accablés sousles ruynes, liusques au nombre de troie cens et plus, et trente blessés".

Some parts, mainly those concerning La Bollène, Lantosque and Venanson, are similar to the account of the "Roquebillière ms", reported by Musso (1907), so that a common source can be supposed.

reported :
proposed :

Roche Begleure
La Boullene

La Brigue

Roquebillière manuscript, XVI (?)
Cadiot uses this title for a "manuscript" which Musso (1907) states to be " in his hand". The "manuscript" should have been in Italian, as Musso says that he gives a translation, and reports one term in Italian (profondata, translated as " totalement démolie"). Musso did not report and traslate all the "manuscript", as other passages of Musso (p. 47) seem to indicate.

Blancardi, XVII
Nothing has been found concerning this source quoted by Gioffredo. It is to be stressed that he is the only one quoting Clans. All posterior authors (Scaliero, 1792; Carlone, 1861; Mercalli, 1897; Cadiot, 1979, 1980; Levret, 1988) quote him through Gioffredo. From Toselli (1860) we know that a Jean François Blancardi was born in Sospello in 1572. In this case, the author was not an eye-witness of the earthquake.

Laurenti, XVII
Gioffredo quotes this manuscript and Scaliero copies him. This source is the only one quoting Antibes. The text presents similarities with Mogiol (1564). From Toselli (1860) we know that there was a family Laurenti (Laurent) from Belvédère, and that Honorè, priest, died in 1612.


Tab. 4 shows a comparison among parts of some sources described above. It can be seen that two of the sources which provide more information, Nostradamus (1616) and the Roquebillière manuscript (XVI?), show some similarities: for instance, the number of casualities is pretty the same and the damage description at La Bollène, Venanson, Lantosque and Saorge is similar. The Roquebillière manuscript appears then as a merge of records extracted from both texts reported by C. Nostradamus, with the insertion of two phrases concerning Valdeblore, which are not exactly coincident with

Tab. 4 - Comparison among date and damaged localities recorded by some sources.

the description given by de Salicis. It could be an extract of information taken from the known sources (Nostradamus, Salicis), and even a summary performed by Musso (1907) himself. From the other side, the number of casualities increases with time from Lubonis to Nostradamus and Roquebillière manuscript. Tab. 5 summarizes the effects of the earthquake as reported by the main sources. The table is to be handled carefully as the timing problems, also shown in the table, are not yet full solved.

Tab. 5 - The effects of the earthquake according to the main sources.

Further investigations

Nice area

At the State Archives of Torino the investigation (Moroni, 1991) has been devoted to the funds concerning the administration of the county of Nice (ASTo, 1565-1567; ASTo, XVIa), the correspondence of the Duke of Savoy (ASTo, 1562-1567), the main officials in duty in the Nissart area (ASTo, XVIb) and the Savoy laws (Borelli, 1691; Amato et al., 1818-69). These funds have been carefully investigated for a time window of six months before and two years after the earthquake date, recording all the subjects they deal with. Fig. 5 summarizes the results.

Fig. 5 - Some results of the investigation at the Archivio di Stato of Torino.
Symbols show the most important subjects treated; full lines the continuity of the documentation.

Only one earthquake record has been found, concerning a 20 years tax exemption, allowed in 1566 by the Duke to the inhabitants of La Bollène:
1566 primo gennaio
Ö A tutti sia manifesto che havendoci humilmente supplicato li diletti fedeli nostri huomini della comunità della Bollena nel contado di Nizza che atteso le ruine et disaggi, da loro patiti per causa di terremoti che successero l'anno 64 et sempre hanno continuato et ancora Ö continuano fosse di buon piacer nostro di essimerli et liberarli di tutti i carichi straordinari tanto reali che personali [Ö] per il tempo di vinti anni (ASTo, 1565-1567).
It has to be recalled that Boyer (XVI) mentions 10 years tax exemptions for Roquebillière and Belvédère.
No earthquake records have been found in the other funds investigated.


The investigation has regarded the Cuneo area about which there was only the record of Grasso Dalmazzo (1570). Another chronicle (Corvo, XVII) does not mention the earthquake, while local histories (Maccario, 1889; Gabotto, 1898; Fresia, 1928) report two other XVI century earthquakes (1502 and 1550), but do not quote the 1564 one. Some research has been performed at the Archives (ASCn, 1565-1586; ASTo, 1565), but no records of the earthquake have been found (Fig. 5).

Western Liguria

The investigation performed by Rivara and Vaccari (1993) has regarded ecclesiastical and civil Archives. The bishop's Archives of Ventimiglia keep only few XVI century documents. The investigation on civil archives suggests to exclude the possibility that the damage reported at Ventimiglia and La Piene could be ascribed to the earthquake.
The seismological compilations provide information for some other localities: San Remo (Nota, 1832), Taggia (Lotti, 1806?) and Porto Maurizio (Mercalli, 1897), though they come from late compilers who do not quote their sources (Tab. 6).

Lotti, 1806?
Nota, 1832
Mercalli, 1897
San Remo
F ?

Tab. 6 - Effects of the 1564 earthquake in Western Liguria.

The analysis of some chronicles of XVII century has given contradictory results. A chronicle of San Remo (Borea, XVII-XIX), written by different hands and starting in the XVII century, quotes the event, but it does not mention effects in this town explicitly: "Successe un Gran Terremoto il quale durò per due mesi, facendosi sentire quasi tutte le settimane, di modo che le persone per la paura dormivano alla campagna nei Contorni di Nizza e di Sospello, e in altre parti rovinò alcuna torre".
This source , however , is not coeval . Another source , nearest to the earthquake, a chronicle compiled by the friar Calvi (1623) speaks about the 1564 facts on the base of his father's telling. He accounts that in the sixties of the XVI century there were many invasions of Turkish pirates. One of them was right on 1564, June 9, that is 41 days before the earthquake. This source devotes many pages to the Turkish invasion and doesn't mention the earthquake. For Savona a chronicle (Verzellino, XVII) does not mention the 1564 earthquake, while it seems to pay attention to similar events before and after it.
Fig. 6 summarizes the results of the investigation on S. Remo and Savona.

Fig. 6 - Earthquake records in some chronicles of San Remo and Savona
(from Moroni and Grillo, 1991).

Vatican Archives
The investigation, reported by Castelli (1993), has not provided earthquake records so far, though some findings cannot be excluded in the future.

Preliminary conclusions
The investigation of the compilations and other sources leads to some improvements, though many problems are still open, starting with timing.
Actually, 1564 seems confirmed as the year of the earthquake also by the authority of the Duke of Savoy provision (ASTo, 1565-1567). The date of the earthquake oscillates in the main sources between 20 July and 20 August, though the important records by de Salicis (XVI), reporting May 5, open the door to the possibility that more natural, destroying events could have taken place in 1564 and have been then cumulated by reporters and historians. This is also supported by the data coming from Ventimiglia and Piene (Rivara and Vaccari, 1993), from which it appears that heavy flooding took place in spring 1564 and was responsible for some damage.

Fig. 7 - Preliminary effect distribution of the 1564 earthquake.

With respect to effects distribution, the main points are:
- heavy damage is reported at Mage, to be located;
- Villaret is still not located: the same holds for Rocca Marina and Sandalingi. It is to be stressed that S. Martin Vesubie, more important than Venanson and very close to it, is not mentioned by any source: it can be suggested that either Sandalingi or Rocca Marina could represent a corruption of it;
- data referred to la Penne by Cadiot (1979, 1980) should be ascribed to la Piene, though the previous considerations are to be taken into account;
- the earthquake was felt in Borgo San Dalmazzo (Cuneo) and/or the sorrounding areas, but no evidence of damage has been found;
- no records of the earthquake have been found east of Porto Maurizio. At west, the important record from the Aix chronicle (Lambert, 1993), needs to be carefully located; should it be located at Aix, it could represent a very important mark far from the epicentral area.
Fig. 7 shows the preliminary effects distribution according to the data provided by Tab. 5: for the localities covered by several sources, Mogiol (1564) and Lubonis (1565?), have been preferred. The question mark at La Bolline indicates a doubt whether the damage should be ascribed to the locality or just to the church. Question marks at la Piene and Ventimiglia take into account the previous considerations.

The authors wish to thank P. Albini, D. Bellettati, B. Cadiot, O. Jacquemin, J. Lambert, A. Levret, G. Morelli, B. Resl and J. Vogt for suggestions or help in retrieving some sources.
Thanks are also due to the staff of the Libraries and Archives of Nice, Torino and Cuneo.

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