Great Droughts, Great Fires, Great Cold

Great Droughts, Great Fires, Great Cold

London, Moscow, Old Delhi, Istabul, Edo, just some of the great cities that suffered heat waves, exceptional droughts, giant conflagrations and then numbing cold – all during The Little Ice Age.

Great Droughts, Great Fires, Great Cold

By tom0mason

CAGW advocates and the UN-IPCC do not want you looking at past times, do not want you to learn from documented history.

Of note is that in year 1666 when months of heatwave and drought affected most of Europe. At that time, London had lain under an exceptional drought since November 1665, and the wooden buildings were tinder-dry after the long hot summer of 1666. After such an unusually hot and dry spring, temperatures in the summer of 1666 rose 1.5°C above normal (estimated), and a precipitation shortfall of 6 inches turned London’s mostly wooden dwellings into large tinderboxes awaiting a spark. The same conditions prevailed in much of northwestern Europe, giving rise to fires in scores of German cities.

The Great Fire of London (unknown painter) as it would have appeared from a boat in the vicinity of Tower Wharf on the evening of Tuesday, 4 Sep 1666. To the left is London Bridge; to the right, the Tower of London. St. Paul’s Cathedral is in the distance. Source: Wikipedia

However the published diary writing of people like Samuel Pepys and others who survived the conflagration, such as the child Daniel Defoe (he would later write about the plagues and diseases of that time, and a first hand account of the ‘Great Storm’ of 1703), ensured the spectacular destruction of London were well documented, and it’s infamy was not overshadowed by other urban fires elsewhere in the world during this time.

London however was not the only capital city where unusual drought in the mid seventeenth century produced a ‘Great Fire’.

Moscow in 1648, after several months without rain, ‘within a few hours more than half the city inside the White Wall, and about half the city outside the wall, went up in flames’.

Large part of the new Mughal capital Shahjahanabad, aka ‘Old Delhi’, burnt down in 1662.

Istanbul suffered more, with numerically more devastating fires in the seventeenth century than in any other period of its history: one notable blaze was in 1660 (again after a prolonged drought) when it burned down 280,000 houses and several public buildings.

Major blazes also regularly devastated Edo, the largest city in Japan, notably the Meireki fire of 1657 – which, like those in Moscow in 1648, Istanbul in 1660 and London in 1666, broke out after an abnormal droughts.

All these happened during the LIA

And yes by December 1666, London like much of Europe was in the grip of a very cold winter, with severe frosts and ice over many European rivers including much of London’s Thames.

[Sources: and
and Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century, by Geoffrey Parker.]

Note: The Great Fire of London consumed 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, St Paul’s Cathedral, and most of the buildings of the City authorities. It is estimated to have destroyed the homes of 70,000 of the City’s 80,000 inhabitants.

11 thoughts on “Great Droughts, Great Fires, Great Cold

  1. Preliminary reports coming in of a Philippines Volcano spewing ash up to 50,000 feet. Not in the news yet, heads up/FYI

  2. Also to note the collapse of the Ming dynasty in China (1644), taken over by the Manzu, (Qing dynasty), (Manchurians, similar people to the Mongols), probably due to food shortages.

  3. mainly because of candles /lamps for lighting
    and open fires/hearths for cooking and for things like forge/foundry glassmaking etc
    wooden homes higher risk but without humans n fire short of lightning theres not much issue with wooden structures being at risk in plain ordinary dry weather.
    looking at the overcrowded smelly state oF london back then…the fires were a blessing not a curse;-)

    • Your point is well taken, and fire was a constant threat in this era. However I can say from experience it is harder to start a fire when it’s raining and the humidity is very high, even with “dry” kindling, than when it’s sunny and the humidity is very low. I’m not sure but I think London was rebuilt using mostly brick instead of wood.

      My father was in London during World War II, and I recall his telling me that he saw a monument to the Great Fire there.

  4. Hi all from a very wet bank holiday weekend in Britain.
    This summer saw some extremely hot and dry conditions all of July and it was made worse by the lack of air conditioning. I believe most of us cannot afford air con because despite what the politicians say, the economy is in chaos.
    Last March saw a severe east wind from Russia which brought the worst snowstorm I have ever seen. I am 53 years of age. Meanwhile, South West Greenland, Nuuk area, had a record heatwave and so I read about in the papers, the coast of North Greenland saw sea for the 1st time in recorded history so you could sail right round Greenland early July.
    All of Japan, Korea, North Russia, Scandinavia, Canada etc had record warmth and I don’t think the death toll due to heat has been published. What’s more, no preparation has been made for next year’s awful and seriously exhausting heatwaves.
    This website (quite rightly so) worries more about cold and I am absolutely dreading next winter.
    I prepared a survival box full of torches, batteries, radio, high visibility cycling band, old Nokia mobile phones, clothing fit for Russia not here, loud horn and whistle, 1st aid etc. Yet to buy lots of tinned food but that is priority.
    I see politicians more worried about looking after angry young refugees from Syria than our elderly who must decide between eating or heating their homes their pensions are hardly anything. It’s criminal.

    • Whiskey Drinker

      Have you considered space blankets?

      These things work, and are very compact, but they are paper thin, and may be not be too sturdy. Best by several, fortunately they are very cheap, typically about $1.00 each, and readily available online. Also you might consider doing an online search for “survival food.” It’s compact, freeze dried, lasts virtually forever (typically 20 years), and available in many different sizes and price ranges.


    More than a dozen “hunger stones” have been found in the Elbe River. The stones recorded low water levels dating back to the 1600s and warn of impending hardships.

    Due to scorching temperatures, the water in the Czech river has dropped, revealing boulders that were once used to record low water levels.

    The rocks are etched with dates going back to the 1600s — the Maunder Minimum.

  6. Whisky Drinker, why are you buying old Nokia phones? I’m curious!

    From your username, I’m guessing you like whisky. Don’t forget to stash a few bottles away for those cold winter nights. 🙂 This is not necessarily a recommendation but I have experimented with tinned soups which lasted and were perfectly edible more than a year past their sell-by dates. Things like corned beef are cheap and already tend to have very long shelf lives, and should last fairly indefinitely if stored properly. Also things like rice and pasta can last a really long time.

Comments are closed.