“In sixteen-hundred-and-sixty-six, London was burnt like a bundle of sticks”
Did you learn that rhyme at school?
Today is the 350th anniversary of that great fire and I think it fitting that I should start my new look blog with a mention of this disaster.
I remember being taught that although the fire was a terrible thing, it brought an end to the plague in London. There is an exhibition at the Museum of London see here for details and they have also launched an easy to follow website full of interesting facts and figures.
The fire started in a bakery in Pudding Lane and although many buildings and most of the city was burnt down, there is some controversy as to how many people lost their lives. The Guardian Newspaper has written a number of articles on the fire and this one says that only a handful of people died, less than a dozen in fact. However, this comment seems to have fired up a debate with a a reader’s letter suggesting that several thousand may have died.
As I look out of my window right now at the torrential rain, I can’t help thinking that if September 3 1666 had been like this I would not have been writing this blog!
Just for fun (with the help of The Man) I’ve compiled a timeline of interesting things that happened every 50 years since 1066. . .
1066 – William Conquered Harold at the Battle of Hastings – the start of our love/hate relationship with our neighbours across the way?
1116 – The Chinese start printing Books – well stitching the pages together anyway
1166 – Willem the Bad, King of Sicily died – Obviously a good thing for his subjects and Genghis Khan is only 3 years old – not such a good thing perhaps?
1216 – King John lost the Crown Jewels in the mud in the East Anglian fens – careless work John – see me!
1266 – Battle of Benevento. Effectively established the power of the Papacy in Southern Italy (not much else doing in 1266)
1316 – Great European Famine begins because of climate change and lots of rain – 2016 has been a bit like that in Dorset.
1366 – Rumblings of discontent in Southern France about English occupation and taxation lead to the restart of the Hundred Years war between England and France.
1416 – Dutch fishermen started using Drift nets – aren’t they trying to ban them now?
1466 – George Skanderberg from Albania defeats the Ottomans and becomes a Christian Hero – not many of them in Albania these days
1516 – Portuguese Explorers heading towards China from Indonesia
1566 – Chinese Emperor Jaijing accidently poisons himself in a search for an ‘everlasting life’ potion
1616 – Death of William Shakespeare. Dirk Hartog discovers Western Australia by accident.
1666 – Great Fire of London (3rd September)
1716 – The Austrians are drawn into the seemingly everlasting war with the Turkish Ottomans and defeat them at the Battle of Belgrade
1766 – First stirrings of “no taxation without representation” in the American Colonies and look where that led!
1816 – The ‘year without a summer’ because of airborne dust from the Tambora eruption which had occurred in 1815 reached the Northern Hemisphere, causing the worst of the 19th century famines. Krakatoa also erupted in 1816 adding to the problem
1866 – A Russian student tries to assassinate Tzar Alexander II, his government introduces repressive measures and strict control of the universities leading to a loss of respect for the Tsar and the Russian revolution 51 years later
1916 – Battle of the Somme
1966 – England won the World Cup in football…a disaster for Germany – for which they have taken revenge many times since.
2016 – Brexit . . . another love/hate situation? (see 1066)