Those who subscribe to such beliefs will confidently assert that one of Nostradamus’ many intricately abstruse quatrains foretells the coming of the Great London Fire of 1666. As far as city-wide conflagrations go, the 1666 blaze that made its way across much of London makes the Great Chicago Fire look like a smoldering waste basket by contrast. On the other hand, certain distinct similarities exist between the two great metropolitan wildfires, not the least of which is that both cities rose from the ashes significantly more modern than they had been before which directly led to both Chicago and London taking a more prominent place in their respective societies.
The Great Fire of 1666 ripped a fiery path through London stretching at least 40 miles long, destroying more than 15,000 homes, nearly 100 churches, and an unknown quantity of businesses. The cause behind such devastation was easy to determine: all those buildings were constructed of wood and many were lined with tar paper to keep out the famous London rain. Add to this mix the fact that most streets were very narrow and the distance between neighbors close enough to reach out and touch and the fact that London had no organized fire brigade at the time points to such a destructive event as a matter of when and not a matter if.
The task of rebuilding London the day after the fire was finally extinguished looked hopeless, but over the years new buildings of brick or stone replaced the space where wood and tar had once stood a stack of kindling next to a fireplace. The Great London Fire of 1666 also directly inspired the most famous architect of his day, Christopher Wren, to commence work on St. Paul’s Cathedral.
That magnificent temple was not the only phoenix to rise from the ashes of the Great London Fire of 1666. Another inspirational creation owing a debt of genesis of the death rattle of the inferno was John Dryden’s epic poetic call to the patriotic spirit of Londoners, Annus Mirabilis Where others view the destruction wrought by the fire as yet more evidence—along with the waste being laid across the city by the Black Plague—as proof that God was punishing the city, Dryden saw in the massive damage caused by the fire the opportunity to cleanse and purify London of its flaws and erect in its wake a much greater metropolis. The fire, as Dryden outlines its path across the city in his poem, could be transformed into a redemptive act of God rather than a punishment from God to provide the opportunity for the salvation of an entire city.
Ultimately, Annus Mirabilis makes it greatest appeal to the patriotic fire still burning among the dying embers of the flames with the suggestion that what appeared to be pure havoc transform into the moment at which England took its rightful and deserved place as the greatest city in the greatest country destined to lead the world into the future.
The devastating impact of the Great Fire of 1666 on London was immense, and the rebuilding effort was one of the largest in history. Not only did the fire cause massive damage, but it also changed the face of the city, both architecturally and culturally. The impact of the fire was felt far beyond the physical destruction, and it is impossible to overlook the effect it had on England as a whole.
The Great Fire of 1666 was a major turning point in the history of London. The fire destroyed large parts of the city and its surrounding areas, leaving behind an unrecognizable landscape. The buildings that had been destroyed were replaced with buildings made of brick and stone, which were much sturdier and less susceptible to fire. This new architecture gave the city a much more modern feel and established the city as a major economic powerhouse.
The fire also changed the way people viewed the city. After seeing the destruction the fire caused, many people began to think of London as a powerful and resilient metropolis, capable of surviving anything. This idea was further strengthened by the writings of John Dryden in Annus Mirabilis. He spoke of the fire as a cleansing of the city, a purifying event that was leading it toward a brighter future. Dryden's words inspired the citizens of London and gave them a sense of pride and hope.
The Great Fire of 1666 also had a great impact on the culture of London. The destruction caused by the fire was seen as a sign of God's punishment, and people began to focus more on religion, morality, and faith. This resulted in the establishment of several churches, as well as other religious institutions. The fire also led to the creation of a fire brigade, which was instrumental in preventing future fires from reaching the same magnitude as the Great Fire of 1666.