Messina Earthquake, 1908

Title

Messina Earthquake, 1908

Description

Published text of the royal decree proclaiming a "state of siege" in Messina and Reggio Calabria following the earthquake and ensuing tsunami and fires of December 28, 1908. In the absence of a national body to coordinate post-disaster relief, King Victor Emmanuel III had appointed Lieutenant General Francesco Mazza to manage the emergency operation and restore public order under conditions described in the decree as "identical" or "more serious" than those in a war zone, and thus requiring martial law. All accounts agree in condemning the latter for negligence and mistakes that arguably could have also saved the lives of an additional estimated 10,000 victims.

Mazza's other legacy has extended to the linguistic tapestry of Italy where the colloquialism "non capire una mazza" (to be clueless) is reported to have first originated among survivors of the catastrophe. Today, the term mazza continues to be employed as a more refined substitute for cazzo or the Sicilian minchia to mean 'nothing' or 'anything.'

Creator

Vittorio Vettori

Source

La Stampa, 5 January 1909

Date

5 January 1909

Contributor

Maya G. Bridi

Format

Newspaper

Type

Text

Coverage

1900-1999

Files

Bridi_Stampa_19090105_Assedio_Decreto.pdf

Citation

Vittorio Vettori, “Messina Earthquake, 1908,” Disaster History Archive, accessed October 23, 2021, http://disasterhistoryarchive.cynthiakierner.org/items/show/19.

Output Formats

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