Friday, November 02, 2007

1666: A Year in Review

The year 1666 was supposed to be the year the Earth ended, seeing as the Mark of the Beast - 666 - is right there in it.

Instead, it was called the Annus Mirabilis, or Year of Miracles, by its contemporaries, the name also being the title of a poem by John Dryden which was published the following year. Despite the utter destruction of London (hot on the heels, as it were, of a terrible plague in 1665), the year was fairly peaceful for the times, with only minor skirmishes between the English and Dutch navies.

Not only did the burning of London reduce the severity of successive plagues (at least, bubonically speaking), it cleared the way for the rebuilding of the muddy, thatched hovels of the medieval City with many a Baroque splendour; furthermore, in Oxford and Cambridge, a flowering of scientific and mathematical knowledge poured forth. Many of Sir Isaac Newton's greatest discoveries date from this year, not to mention the foundation of Sweden's Lund University and the French Academy of Sciences.

Those who died that year include the Dutch landscape artist Frans Hals and the builder of the Taj Mahal Shah Jahan, who was buried in his splendid creation next to his beloved Mumtaz Mahal.
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