The Annus Mirabilis
Literally, the ‘Year of Wonders’ or the ‘Miracle Year’. This was ironic, given its hellish connotations and the millenialist spirit of the age, it was originally applied to the year 1666.
- This was certainly an eventful year, which could – at least from a British perspective – be seen either as heavenly, or hellish.
- Newton made his major discoveries.
- The Dutch and the English went to war.
- The Great Fire of London, burned down the city – albeit with remarkably few deaths.
- There was an uprising in Scotland.
- The Great Plague ravaged London, killing a quarter of the city’s population (some 100,000 people). Though it spread further.
Given the portentious number of the beast, and the enormous upheaval of the times, it’s easy to see why denizens of England, London in particular, could imagine this was the end of the world.
The passage of the comets in 1664 and 1665 were thought to be a herald of doom, and though not easily seen by many people, they did set things astir amongst religious fanatics and at court. In the world of Wightchester, after these comets, there was a third. A ‘Great Comet’ with a brightness to rival that of the Moon. It passed rapidly through the sky, leaving an enormous trail and bathing the Earth in an unnatural, pale blue-purple light for the handful of nights it was in the sky.
After the comet had passed there were incidents, not just in England, but most notably in England, of the dead returning to life and seeking human prey. In most places these shambling horror were easily cut or shot down by the organised actions of the Military, but in an England still reeling from the Great Fire and the Great Plague, it was a different matter…