Saturday, September 03, 2016

History Ablaze

Following yesterday's pattern, another historical theme surfaces today: 350 years ago this weekend The Great Fire of London consumed a large part of that famous capital city.

From The Book of Days website

London was only a few months freed from a desolating pestilence, it was suffering, with the country generally, under a most imprudent and ill-conducted war with Holland, when, on the evening of the 2nd of September 1666, a fire commenced by which about two-thirds of it were burned down, including the cathedral, the Royal Exchange, about a hundred parish churches, and a vast number of other public buildings. The conflagration commenced in the house of a baker named Farryner, at Pudding Lane, near the Tower, and, being favoured by a high wind, it continued for three nights and days, spreading gradually eastward, till it ended at a spot called Pye Corner, in Giltspur Street. Mr. John Evelyn has left us a very interesting description of the event, from his own observation, as follows:

'Sept. 2, 1666.-This fatal night, about ten, began that deplorable fire near Fish Streete in London.

'Sept. 3.-The fire continuing, after dinner I took coach with my wife and soon, and went to the Bankside in Southwark, where we beheld that dismal spectacle, the whole Citty in dreadful flames neare ye water side; all the houses from the Bridge, all Thames Street, and upwards towards Cheapeside downe to the Three Cranes, were now consum'd.

Astrologer William Lilly had predicted the Great Fire years before, via one of his mysterious hieroglyphic drawings. A good relevant essay, by Maurice McCann, is at Skyscript

Lilly, it was claimed, had successfully predicted the outbreak of the fire fourteen years before when he had published Monarchy or No Monarchy in England a book containing nineteen hieroglyphic drawings giving carefully disguised predictions. As a consequence of one of these, featuring a large fire, Lilly was seriously suspected of causing the fire. It was also thought that he wished to obtain credit for forecasting the event. Being fearful of what might happen to him, Lilly persuaded the committee that his prediction had not been precise and he was allowed to go.

After the fire?
A snip and Conclusion from an article by Dr John Schofield at a BBC website
London After the Great Fire

At least 65,000 people had been made homeless by the Fire. At first they camped in the fields outside the walls, but within days had dispersed to surrounding villages or other parts of London. Rents soared in the unburnt area, but somehow accommodation was found for all who needed it. Much merchandise had been destroyed, and there was virtually no fire insurance, so many people were ruined, and some moved away permanently.

Conclusion -
We have perhaps been overimpressed by the Great Fire, and must place it in context - the Fire, destructive though it was, devastated only about one third of the conurbation of London then standing. Within the area of the devastation a new city of brick and occasionally stone arose, but around it a larger area remained timber-framed for generations to come. Inside the City, if we could have walked down a street like Fenchurch Street in 1675, we would have seen an abrupt change from the brick buildings of the new city to the timber and plaster frontages of the pre-Fire city, at the point where the Fire was stopped. This sudden contrast took generations to erase. But it is also true that the Fire created the opportunity to build, in the central area, a city in a new form, which would quickly become the hub of the British Empire in the decades which followed. So the creation of the Empire owes something to the Great Fire of 1666.


mike said...

Many great fires have integrated into our history:

Nostradamus (or Nosterdamus) is thought to have forecast the London fire in his Century 2, Quatrain 51.

I looked around the web for the astrology behind the fire and there are several sources of interpretation, though the actual moment the fire erupted can only be speculated, so there's no true natal chart. The transits of that day aren't particularly indicative of disaster. McCann's essay explains Lilly's drawing, but only in planetary placement, not the astrological rationale behind Lilly's prediction.

To date, the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906 is the American version. About a quarter-million people were without homes. Every person for themselves, I suppose.

New word for me, "conurbation". I'd be hesitant to use it for fear of espousing dirty-talk...LOL.

Twilight said...

mike ~ As I'm not a fan of natal charts for anything but a living being, I'm sceptical about his astrological depiction having anything but a psychic source, which he tried to match astrologically. Maybe he didn't even acknowledge this himself though...or... maybe I'm wrong. ;-)

Although outer planets didn't figure in 17th century astrology, they were still up there. Sept 1666 had Uranus in Aquarius trine Pluto in Gemini. That would have offered an astrologically Airy atmosphere ripe for the unexpected, destructive darkness, plots, etc. Plague had, very recently, been destructive throughout the city too.

Conurbation - I'd come across it before, in reading, but wouldn't ever need to use it - one of those "10 dollar words", I guess.

PS O/T - We had a 5.6 earthquake in Oklahoma this morning around 7 am. I was still in bed, drowsy, felt the bed sway right and left for several seconds- decided I was still dreaming. Anyjazz was up and about and saw the clothes in a closet and venetian blinds swaying. Epicentre said to have been Pawnee, north of OKC, so around 100 miles north of us. Quake said to have been felt as far south as Austin and as far north as Nebraska.
Flippin' fracking!!

mike (again) said...

I just read about your OK quake-and-shake! OK is now the earthquake capital. Yes, fracking and global warming go hand-in-hand...many deniers conveniently padding their bank accounts on the destruction. Add to it that OK is part of the vast, underground, fresh water, Ogallala water reservoir...what could go wrong by injecting waste water nearby?! I suppose the New Madrid earthquake fault could potentially be triggered, too.

Don't forget to check your home owner's insurance policy. I doubt that you have earthquake protection, as it's usually an add-on provision.

And Sonny is in the path of Hermine, the tropical storm. Sonny seems to have disappeared. Put on your high-waders, if your reading this, Sonny! Hoping you're out of harm's way and that your electricity isn't disrupted.

I'm saving the last two episodes of Netflix' "Stranger Things" for this evening. I wasn't too impressed with the advertisements and the seemingly younger, kid appeal. The first episode does seem kid oriented, but it transitions, with each episode gaining the steam of suspense. I forced myself to stop watching at midnight last night, but I was tempted to keep going.

BTW - "Poldark" season 2 starts in about two weeks.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Yes, we should check on the insurance. Will do so. Tornado damage ought to be included (I seem to remember asking about that when we first moved to this house). Not sure if the woman in the insurance office said something about it coming under "Acts of God"...faint memory - need to check again. Earthquake would not be an Act of God, but an act of Frack though!

I've wondered about Sonny too. Her blog hasn't been update since January - I took it from my list of links. Last here she mentioned that she was busy, busy, busy. Also she wanted to avoid any bad feelings regarding election matters. Maybe she'll be back after November. I too hope she avoids the worst of the tropical storm.

I think we saw the first episode of "Stranger Things" a while ago - didn't enjoy it, so left it alone. If we're at a dead end any time we'll go back take another look.

Oh - thanks for the heads-up about Poldark! Goody!

We're enjoying the "Inspector George Gently" series. I was shocked to realise who plays the lead character - it took a couple of episodes to sink in and recognise fully - Martin Shaw. Last seen by me decades ago in "The Professionals" as a very curly headed young guy. Now I've seen him at work in his maturity I want to see more of his recent stuff. He's been highly regarded for many roles in TV fare in the years I've been away from England. Lots to catch up on - probably by buying DVDs on E-bay (when that ship comes in!) LOL! I casually looked at his date of birth (21 Jan 1945), then at the d.o.b. of his young sidekick in the "Gently" series, Lee Ingleby, and his b'day is 28 January 197-something. How could I not be intrigued? :-)