Great Plague of London, 1665

- Image ID: HRP14P
Great Plague of London, 1665
Science History Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Image ID: HRP14P
Engraving by R. Smirke showing a street scene showing plague victims, published August 21st, 1790. The Great Plague (1665-66) was the last major epidemic of the bubonic plague to occur in the Kingdom of England (part of modern day United Kingdom). Plague doctors traversed the streets diagnosing victims, although many of them had no formal medical training. Several public health efforts were attempted. Physicians were hired by city officials and burial details were carefully organized, but panic spread through the city and, out of the fear of contagion, people were hastily buried in overcrowded pits. The means of transmission of the disease were not known but thinking they might be linked to the animals, the City Corporation ordered a cull of dogs and cats. Thinking bad air was involved in transmission, the authorities ordered giant bonfires to be burned in the streets and house fires to be kept burning night and day, in hopes that the air would be cleansed. The Great Plague killed an estimated 100,000 people.