Jun 12, 2019 in History

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London History

The history of London was always full of dramatic events. The seventeenth century, and especially the 1660s, was probably one of the most tumultuous periods in the history of the British capital. In the 1660s, many crucial events occurred; they changed the city and the citizens of London. The beginning of the 1660s is marked by the revival of monarchy and Charles II's succession of the throne. The city managed to survive after the Great Plague outbreak in 1665 and the Great Fire in 1666. British colonialism reached its peak at this time, and London became a kind of the exhibition of all colonial treasures, such as coffee, chocolate and tobacco. At the same time, in the seventeenth century, London became one of the largest cities of Europe, it was “not merely expanding, it was bursting of its shell” (Porter, 1996).

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It would be reasonable to consider the event that changed London’s appearance most of all. London went through fires before 1666 many times, but the Great Fire was the most devastating accident. The central part of London mostly consisted of wooden buildings, which were placed too close to each other. Additionally, 1666 appeared to have been a very dry year. These factors extremely increased the risk of fire. King Charles II enacted several bills to prevent the fire, but nobody obeyed these laws as timber was a cheap building material. In 1666, this cost-saving resulted in the fire that ruined the greater part of the western area of the City, including 13,500 houses and numerous industrial and church buildings.

According to Porter (1996), only eight people died during the fire, but many people lost their houses; Charles II gave the order to settle outside London. Notwithstanding such great devastation, the Great Fire affected only poor citizens, while the British aristocracy mostly lived in their estates outside the city.

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As a result of the Great Fire, the total reconstruction of London had begun. Almost all wooden buildings were substituted by stone houses. After this reconstruction, London did not look like a medieval city anymore. Thus, even taking into account all the damage brought by the Great Fire in 1666, one cannot deny that it was also beneficial to the development of London and the United Kingdom as a whole. Some people even considered that the fire saved many lives of the Londoners in return for their buildings because London was very exposed to the outbreaks of plague. However, after the Great Fire, the plague had never spread in London. Londoners were convinced that the fire killed all rats infected with the plague.

It is not difficult to consider that the Great Fire was a really beneficial catastrophe in the history of London, which probably made London the most developed and populated city of Europe after some years.

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