James Jonathan Gray
According to Adrian Tinniswood, seventeenth-century Londoners vacillated between seeing the Great Fire of London as an act of terrorism and an act of god. What were the major components of these explanations and why were contemporaries so eager to search for a reason for the calamity other than simple accident.
Was the Great fire of London an act of terrorism or an act of God? There are numerous explanations that attribute to the belief in either. London in the seventeenth century was no paradise and was actually a quite unpleasant place to live. Coupled with thousands dying from an outbreak of plague, with the dead sometimes populating the streets of London, it is quite
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Thirdly, this fire can be viewed as the setting of the stage for a great renewal. This is because the new London that was to replace the old filthy, polluted city with deformed buildings, even the buildings of royalty and the cathedrals, was to be a much more spectacular one. In fact, if some members of the ever skilled council to rebuild and commission to rebuild had their way, it would have been so amazing as to put the Palace of Versailles to shame. The only limiting factor was the funding, Tinniswood called this opportunity of the “commissioners of rebuilding”, Robert Boyle, Roger Pratt, Hugh May, Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke and Edward Jerman, “one of the most challenging and exciting opportunities in the history of urban design” (211-212). As a result of the great care chosen in rebuilding the city, three major happenings took place to make London not only more glorious, but more functional of a city. Firstly, a new leadership emerged, the lack of which, prior to the fire, most certainly contributed to the rapid spread of the fire. Secondly, there was an emergence of a new and more modern type capital, as Charles and Parliament, were to buy the entire city for the purpose of this rebuilding (190). Within this more eloquently designed city the trades were to be moved away from the inner-city, preventing the pollution that made London so unfavorable