Sunday, 16 October 2016

The Great Fire of London + 350: when things go wrong, blame foreigners



350 years ago this autumn….more than 80 per cent of the City of London was destroyed or damaged by the Great Fire of London, so what has that got to do with Brexit?

Well, the fire started on September 1 in a bakery making ship’s biscuit for the Royal Navy, but oddly the man responsible for burning down most of the city did not want to admit it was his fault.

So instead the authorities arrested and hanged a French watchmaker from Rouen. Virtually no one in government believed he was responsible, but it was easier to execute him than to stand up to popular prejudice.

The London mob also attacked other French people as well as citizens of the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden. Many people with overseas accents were taken into custody for their own protection.

It was a disturbing example of a recurrent theme in English history: when things go wrong, blame foreigners.


For the full story see London’s Disasters (The History Press).

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