Stockholm, 1751

Klarabranden—the middle of three significant, eighteenth-century fires that Stockholm suffered—lasted for a day beginning on 8 June 1751. All three fires took their names from the main churches they destroyed: in 1723 the Katarinabranden destroyed the Church of Catherine in the southern part of the city; in 1751 the Klarabranden destroyed the Church of Saint Clara in the northern part of the city; and in 1759 the Mariabranden destroyed the Maria Magdalena Church back in the southern district. The Klarabranden destroyed 221 buildings, which, although at first ruled an arson planned to undermine the newly installed King Adolf Fredrik, turned out to have started accidently at a dyeing workshop.

The city burned despite, as this map shows, having developed a city-wide alert system for fires in a Royal Proclamation from 12 December 1728. These “Bransignaler”—described in the upper right of the map —used a system of flags, lanterns, church bells, and cannon shots to communicate where the fire was occurring within five regions of the area. Coming so soon after the Klarabranden, this map reminds its viewers to be prepared and to know their warning signals.

George Biurman, “Charta öfwer Stockholm med des malmar och förstäder” (1751); Christophe Daniel Ebeling Collection, gift of Israel Thorndike, 1818