December 6, 2018

Commemoration of the Fearful Threat of the Earthquake of December 6, 1090

On the sixth of December we commemorate the conferring of philanthropy to us with the fearful threat of the earthquake.


Although a divine glance from above full of rage,
Makes the earth shake, favorable ones are quickly seen.

On December 6 in the year 1090, a strong earthquake in Constantinople damaged many houses and churches and caused colonnades to collapse. The city streets were choked with debris and many people were killed. Aftershocks followed for six days.

Michael Glykas (died in 1204) places this event on the Feast of Saint Nicholas (December 6) during the reign of Alexios Komnenos (1081-1118); the same date, with a few more details, is given by Zonaras, who may also have experienced this earthquake.

Neither source gives a year, but both place the earthquake just before the Petcheneg invasion of Thrace and Macedonia and their subsequent defeat at Mount Lebunium in 1091, which would date the earthquake to December 6, 1090.

Michael the Syrian places this event 6 to 7 years earlier in a.S. 1396, which is 1084.

"And at this time an earthquake happened on the Feast of Saint Nicholas, lasting six days, as a result of which many houses and columns and churches collapsed, wherein many people were buried and died." (Michael Glykas)

"There occurred in his [Alexios Komnenos's] reign a most violent earthquake on the day of the memorial of the renowned wonderworker Nicholas, in which many houses and churches collapsed, together with colonnades. As a result the roads of the city were covered [with debris], and a great many people were engulfed in the upheavals and died." (Zonaras)

"In the year 1396 there was an earthquake in Constantinople and thousands of people suffocated." (Michael the Syrian)