Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Great Fire - In Our Time podcast review

In September 1666 burnt the Great Fire of London. BBC's In Our Time spoke of the fire last week and I hope you can still download the podcast, before it will be replaced today with the program made this morning.

I can be short about this issue of In Our Time. It was as good as always. The event of the Great Fire is amply made tangible and, needless to say, very clearly put in a historic perspective. The Fire not only devastated a huge part of London, but it also marked a kind of watershed in history. These connections between facts on the ground and the grand scheme of developments, are always what interest me most

What stayed with me however, were this time a few almost casually mentioned facts about London and about the Fire. For example, the fire raged on for four days and for a long time afterward, one couldn't move through the debris. First of all, because of the remaining heat - the ground was still hot for days on end. Afterward there was the great logistical problem of removing the debris. So many Londoner just left, never to return. And here is another point: who were the Londoners? Cities in those days (I remember this from Amsterdam) hardly managed to maintain their size by themselves. The death rate was enormous. The city stayed huge, on account of constant immigration. These immigrants came from everywhere, rather from far than from close by. In London there were a lot of English from remote locations and there were a lot of foreigners, French and Dutch mostly. It gives for a different perspective on the roots of the citizens.

More In Our Time:
Simon Bolivar,
The Translation Movement.

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