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Sunday, 26 April 2015

The Republic of Britain

Britain became a Republic for eleven years, between 1649 and 1660 no King or Queen reigned in Britain, we take a look at how this came around

Charles believed he had a “Divine Right”

After the Wars of Scottish Independence during the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries England and Scotland were in a constant state of war with each other but by 1549 England and Scotland seemed to have settled into a relative state of peace with each other, however on the death of Elizabeth I in 1603 and of the accession of Charles I in 1625 things took a turn for the worse.

Charles I, had a vision to bring together the kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland into a newly united kingdom, but many of the Parliamentarians and English subjects were against this move as they thought it might destroy the English traditions and way of life.

At that time parliament had little power, Charlie and Parliament were in a constant power struggle, and with his dogged belief that he had “a divine right” to impose his will upon Parliament and his subjects, his actions were increasingly opposed by many, including one Oliver Cromwell.(Keep an eye out for this guy)

Many of Charlie's opponents mysteriously disappeared as the struggle for power continued, matters became worse when he began to levy taxes on the people and, in particular, the English and Scottish churches without parliamentary consent, this led many to increasingly be seen as those of an autocratic and tyrannical supreme monarch.(you can say that again)

The decapitation

Accused of being a tyrant, traitor and murderer

Enough was enough and in 1649 Charles I was arrested and accused of being a “tyrant, traitor and murderer; and a public and implacable enemy to the Commonwealth of England."(they didn't mince words in those days)

Enter a Dutchman by the name of Issac Dorislaus, as there were at that time, no law in England that could deal with the setting up a court and trying a King.

Issac Dorislaus was charged with the job of writing a law allowing such a trial to proceed, he based his law on an old Roman law which stated, that a military body could legally overthrow a tyrant.

The military body was seen as the government and so the trial began, 135 judges were chosen to try the King but many feared the consequences of such a trail and come to the date of the trail only 68 turned up.

It was not only the judges that had second thoughts, many of the MP’s in Parliament questioned the action, those that expressed a doubt were stopped from attending the trial and only those who were in favour of it (Main supporters of Cromwell) were allowed in, the total was thought to be around 46 and of those only 26 voted in favour, there was clearly no support to try Charles.
Portrait of Oliver Cromwell by Samuel Cooper.

However, the trial took place and Charlie one, of England, was found guilty and sentenced to death; his execution took place In London on January 1st, 1649.

Britain became a Republic for eleven years

The monarchy was abolished on the 6th February, 1649 Parliament issued the statement that "the office of the king in this nation is an unnecessary burden and dangerous to the liberty, society and public interest of the people."

Britain became a Republic for eleven years and between 1649 and 1660 no King or Queen reigned in Britain.
A Council of State was set-up instead of the monarchy and Oliver Cromwell was proclaimed 1st Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland (See I told you he played a blinding part)

Cromwell, however, proved to be no better than the King and ruled for 4 years and 261 days, after his death on 3 September 1658 Richard Cromwell (his brother, nothing like keeping it the family) became the 2nd Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland he only lasted a year and in 1659 the Council of State ruled without a leader.
Cromwell dissolving The Long Parliament,

In 1660, Charles II became king of England, and the monarchy was restored. The Republic of Britain was no more.

Friday, 24 April 2015

The Great Plague Of London

The Great Plague Of London 1665.By September reached 7000 deaths a week, we look at why it happened and how it ended.

The Flea such a harmless creature and so small, let’s face it, apart from a little bite something as small as a Flee surely couldn’t do much harm, could it?

But in 1665 just a year before the great fire of London, the tiny harmless Siphonaptera namely the Flee was the cause of around 100,000 deaths.

The Great Plague of London in 1665 was a bubonic plague of gigantic proportions and was brought upon by the Yersinia pestis infection and this is where our little friend the flea comes in, Yersinia pestis is a flea vector infection.

The first recorded case was a Rebecca Andrews, on 12 April 1665. Many of the top dignitaries left London, poor old King Charles II who was not the most popular of persons at the time (you ask Oliver Cromwell) was happy to leave London, not only to get away from the plague but also from the growing mass who were planning to get rid of him, but there were many well known that stayed, including The Lord Mayor a few clergymen, although most of them fled some physicians and apothecaries also chose to remain.

Samuel Pepys lived here

A couple of well-known men of the time that chose to stay were Samuel Pepys, the diarist, and Henry Foe, a saddler who lived in East London, Pepys recorded much of the events of the Plague in his diary whilst Mr Foe’s nephew Daniel (yes he's the one that wrote "Robinson Crusoe" published an account in a journal in 1722 under the name of Daniel Defoe and although it was a fictional journal it is thought it was based Foes writing during the Plague.

Deaths in London according to records went from 1000 a week then 2000 a week and finally reached 7000 deaths a week by September 1665. By the end of February 1666, London was considered to be safe for Charlie II to return just in time for the ‘Great fire of London’ (Bit of a Jinx wasn’t he)

Nothing compared to “The black Death”

Although the great plague of 1665 killed almost 20% of London’s population this was nothing compared to the “Black Death” of 1347 and lasted until 1353 this pandemic killed around 30% to 60% of Europe’s population, and 2 million dead in England alone, the world’s population at that time was estimated to be around 450 million, and thanks to the Black Death it was dramatically reduced to between 350 and 375 million

Thursday, 23 April 2015

The Black Death Its Start and How It Changed the Shape of Europe

The Black Death or the Bubonic plague, it had many names but in its wake it very nearly wiped out Europe.

Picture it! China, The Mongol Yuan Dynasty which had ruled China for almost 100 years, is just coming to end, and it is the beginning of the Ming Dynasty

Its 6.30 am on a cold and frosty morning, and we are at the great trading port of Weihai
The trading vessel ‘Flower of China’ has just finished loading its cargo of spices and is just leaving for a trip to Europe, just as the ship pulls away from the jetty a black rat prevalent in China in those times jumps aboard ‘The Flower’ the passenger is also carrying a passenger, a flea.

Not an ‘astounding knock me out’ fact, you might say as most rats carried fleas, but this particular flea is also carrying a passenger, the ‘Yersinia pestis Virus’

We don't know who was the first victim

The ‘Yersinia pestis Virus’ is known to be one of the causes of the Black Death also known as the "Great Pestilence" is categorized into three specific types of plague, the bubonic plague, the pneumonic and the septicemic plague this last one is the deadliest of them all, get this one and your dead in days

It's not know who was the first victim, but we do know that the “Black Death” pandemic killed around 30% to 60% of Europe’s population and 7 million died in England alone, the world’s population at that time was estimated to be around 450 million, and thanks to the Black Death it was dramatically reduced to between 350 and 375 million
Some of the major cities around the world recorded some amazing death facts.
The numbers were incredible    40,000 people died in Paris
  1.          200,000 in Moscow
  2.         50,000 victims in Venice
  3.          7 million in England and 35,417 Londoners perished
  4.           15,000 Munich
  5.           300,000 Naples
  6.          50,000 in Amsterdam

Remember these are just city’s not countries
The Black Death spread rapidly along the major European sea and land trade routes.
It killed an estimated 75–200 million people in the 14th century
One of the deadliest pandemics in human history
The Black Death was one of the deadliest pandemics in human history and finally left Europe in the 19th century in its wake lay.

         The Italian Plague of 1629
   The Great Plague of Seville in1647
   The Great Plague of London in1665
   The Great Plague of Vienna in 1679
   The Great Plague of Marseilles in 1720
   And the Russian plague of 1770

Thousands died daily unattended and without help. Many died in the open street, the stench of rotting bodies must have been horrific, churchyards were full and had no room for any more bodies so trenches were dug and bodies were dumped into them waiting for a place of rest just like the rats on the dock for the next ship to carry them to another port, many believed it was the end of the world.

The great fire of London

For four days in September the fire gutted most of the city of London, including St Paul's Cathedral, 1666 was to be one of the most remembered dates in history.

It's the end of summer and the end of a hard day

Picture it, London, its midnight on Sunday, 2 September, the old baker had just finished his shift at the bakery it was cold that September evening, just before he locked up for the night he looked around to make sure it was all secure, his boss Thomas Farriner who lived upstairs with his family had told him to be careful because at that time there were many foreigners in London, England was at war with the French and the Dutch so the old man made sure all was locked up and safe.

The Ferriner Family  Trapped Upstairs

He trundled his way home, what it was, no one knows,? it could have been a candle left lit or just a spark from the embers of the dying fire but by the time the old man had reached the end of the lane where the bakery was, a small fire had started, the Ferriner family were trapped upstairs, but managed to climb from an upstairs window to the house next door, except for a maidservant who was too frightened to try, and she became the first victim

The firefighters had no chance

The lane was aptly called ‘Pudding Lane’ I suppose it got its name because of all the bakery’s there, Most of the buildings in the city of London were built of wood and the best part of the city was based on a medieval style, with overcrowded narrow, winding alleys, this had caused many problems for the fire-fighters of the time and that along with the wooden building made it difficult to combat the many fires that occurred, there were plans to stop the building of wooden houses and an outright ban on thatched roofs was in force

In Just three days

By Wednesday, 5 September in just three short days 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches including, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the homes of 70,000 out of the 80,000 inhabitants of London had been destroyed, if it hadn’t been for the River Thames for the river more damages would certainly have happen.

The fire, however, did leap the river but it helped to slow it down and that combined with the wind dropping and the brilliant foresight of the Tower of London garrison who used gunpowder to affect a successful firebreak. After the fire there were a number of rebuilding proposals but in the end, the destroyed part of London was rebuilt based on a very similar street plan as before many of the streets are still to found today including Pudding Lane.