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1666CE

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§Of World Interest

Sir Isaac Newton uses a prism to split sunlight into its component colors, which helps us understand the nature of light more comprehensively (see optical spectrum).

§Europe

June 11-June 14 - Second Anglo-Dutch War - Four Days Battle: The Dutch fleet defeats England.

August 5 - St. James's Day Battle: An English fleet defeats the Dutch under Michiel de Ruyter.

August 9 - Rear Admiral Robert Holmes leads a raid on the Dutch island of Terschelling, destroying 150 merchant ships in the Vlie estuary, and pillaging the town of West-Terschelling, an act later referred to as Holmes's Bonfire.

§England

Duke of Buckingham plotted to effect the Chancellor's ruin. He organized parties in both houses of parliament to support a 1666 bill prohibiting the import of Irish cattle, partly to oppose Clarendon and partly to thwart the Duke of Ormonde.

Great Fire of London

The Great Fire of London was a major conflagration that swept through the central parts of London, England, from Sunday, 2 September to Wednesday, 5 September 1666. The fire gutted the medieval City of London inside the old Roman City Wall. It threatened, but did not reach, the aristocratic district of Westminster (the modern West End), Charles II's Palace of Whitehall, and most of the suburban slums. It consumed 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, St. Paul's Cathedral, and most of the buildings of the City authorities. It is estimated that it destroyed the homes of 70,000 of the City's 80,000 inhabitants. The death toll from the fire is unknown and is traditionally thought to have been small, possibly only 6, as only a few verified deaths were recorded. This reasoning has recently been challenged on the grounds that the deaths of poor and middle-class people were not recorded anywhere, and that the heat of the fire may have cremated many victims, leaving no recognisable remains.

The fire started at the bakery of Thomas Farriner (or Farynor) in Pudding Lane shortly after midnight on Sunday, 2 September, and spread rapidly. The use of the major firefighting technique of the time, the creation of firebreaks by means of demolition, was critically delayed due to the indecisiveness of the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Thomas Bloodworth. By the time large-scale demolitions were ordered on Sunday night, the wind had already fanned the bakery fire into a firestorm which defeated such measures. The fire pushed north on Monday into the heart of the City. Order in the streets broke down as rumours arose of suspicious foreigners setting fires. The fears of the homeless focused on the French and Dutch, England's enemies in the ongoing Second Anglo-Dutch War; these substantial immigrant groups became victims of lynchings and street violence. On Tuesday, the fire spread over most of the City, destroying St. Paul's Cathedral and leaping the River Fleet to threaten Charles II's court at Whitehall. Coordinated firefighting efforts were simultaneously mobilising. The battle to quench the fire is considered to have been won by two factors: the strong east winds died down, and the Tower of London garrison used gunpowder to create effective firebreaks to halt further spread eastward.

The social and economic problems created by the disaster were overwhelming. Evacuation from London and settlement elsewhere were strongly encouraged by Charles II, who feared a London rebellion amongst the dispossessed refugees. Despite numerous radical proposals, London was reconstructed on essentially the same street plan used before the fire.

Destroyed in London's Great Fire are thousands of old dwellings that have harbored lice-bearing rats which spread plague (see 1665). Some 2,000 Londoners nevertheless die of the plague.

Duke of Buckingham Falls out of Favor

19 December, the Duke came to blows with the Marquess of Dorchester: Buckingham pulled off the marquess's periwig, and Dorchester also "had much of the duke's hair in his hand." According to Clarendon, no misdemeanour so flagrant had ever before offended the dignity of the House of Lords. The offending peers were both sent to the Tower, but were released after apologising; and Buckingham vented his spite by raising a claim to the title of Baron Ros, held by Dorchester's son-in-law. His opposition to the government had lost him the king's favour, and he was now accused of treasonable intrigues, and of having cast the king's horoscope.

§France

France's queen mother Anne of Austria dies of breast cancer at Paris January 20 at age 64. Armand I de Bourbon, prince de Conti and governor of Languedoc, dies at Pézénas February 21 at age 36, having married a niece of the late Cardinal Mazarin in 1654 and, like his sister, become a Jansenist. His 28-year-old widow, Anne-Marie (née Martiniozzi), will survive only until 1672.

Louis XIV of France had authorized the building of an observatory in Paris to measure longitude.

France allies herself with the Dutch and declares war on England; French forces take Antigua, Montserrat, and Saint Kitts in the Greater Antilles. An English privateer takes Tobago, but the island will eventually return to French control and remain French until 1763. The Dutch sign a treaty of alliance with the elector of Brandenburg Friedrich Wilhelm and form a quadruple alliance with Brunswick, Brandenburg, and Denmark.

§Hungary

Hungarian noblemen revolt against the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I.

§Ireland

February - William Penn moves from London to Ireland to manage his father's estates. In May, he is involved in suppressing a mutiny in the English garrison at Carrickfergus.

The Parliament of Ireland meets for the last time until 1692 (apart from the Patriot Parliament of 1689).

Lord Maurice Roche of Castletownroche in County Cork loses his entire estate to Lieutenant Colonel John Widenham who receives the Castle as a reward for his loyalty to the Crown. The Castle of the Roches is thus renamed "Castle Widenham".

§Netherlands

William III was sixteen, the States of Holland officially made him a ward of the government, or a "Child of State". All pro-English courtiers, including Zuylenstein, were removed from William's company. William begged De Witt to allow Zuylenstein to stay, but he refused. De Witt, the leading politician of the Republic, took William's education into his own hands, instructing him weekly in state matters—and joining him in a regular game of real tennis.

§Papal States

January 17 - Chair of St. Peter set above the Altar at Cathedra Petri, Vatican City.

§India

India's former Mughal emperor Shah Jahan dies in captivity at Agra January 22 at age 74. His son Aurangzeb continues the oppressive rule he began in 1659, but the Maratha leader Shivaji escapes from Agra August 16. Although he was facing execution at any time while living under house arrest, Shavaji did not give up hope; pretending to be ill, he sent out large baskets filled with sweets to be distributed among the poor, and his followers have used these baskets to carry him and his son past their guards. He reorganizes his army, begins building a naval force, and by 1668 will have regained all the territory that he has lost and more besides, collecting tribute from some Mughal districts and instituting reforms that benefit his largely Hindu followers.

§Middle East

Expulsion of the Portuguese from the Bengal port city of Chittagong by Mughal forces of Emperor Aurangzeb under General Bujurg Umed Khan and renaming the city as Islamabad.

§North America

§Canada

Jean Talon completes a census of New France, the first census in North America. French explorer René Robert Cavelier, 23, sieur de La Salle, voyages to the New World to occupy a grant of land he has received on the St. Lawrence River. He plans to establish trading posts on the Wisconsin River to buy furs from trappers and make a fortune.

§Caribbean

Former Barbados governor Francis Willoughby, 5th Baron Willoughby, dies at sea between Barbados and Saint Kitts in July at age 53 (approximate). He was given joint proprietorship of Surinam with Lawrence Hyde after the restoration of the monarchy 6 years ago.

§United States

The City of Newark, NJ settled by Robert Treat.

§Russia

§Russian Religion

The Russian Orthodox Church holds a sobor (church council) which deposes Patriarch Nikon, but accepts his liturgical reforms. Dissenters from his reforms, known as Old Believers, continue to this day.

§South Pacific

§Indonesia

December - The VOC fleet reached Makassar. As was hoped, the return of the exiled Arung Palakka after six years encouraged the Bugis of Bone and the Soppeng to rebel against the Makassarese.

§Religion

Sabbatai Zevi, proclaimed Jewish Messiah, converts to Islam and his followers, both during his "Messiahship" and after his conversion to Islam, are known as Sabbateans.

§Deaths

  • January 22 - Shah Jahan, ruler of the Mughal Empire in India.
  • August 26 - Frans Hals, Flemish artist known for his portraiture aged 86.

§Sources

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