Beeldenstorm in Dutch, roughly translatable to "statue storm", or Bildersturm in German ("image/statue storm"), also the Great Iconoclasm or Iconoclastic Fury, is a term used for outbreaks of destruction of religious images that occurred in Europe in the 16th century. During these spates of iconoclasm, Catholic art and many forms of church fittings and decoration were destroyed in unofficial or mob actions by Calvinist Protestant crowds as part of the Protestant Reformation.[2][3] Most of the destruction was of art in churches and public places.[4]

The Dutch term usually specifically refers to the wave of disorderly attacks in the summer of 1566 that spread rapidly through the Low Countries from south to north. Similar outbreaks of iconoclasm took place in other parts of Europe, especially in Switzerland and the Holy Roman Empire in the period between 1522 and 1566, notably Zürich (in 1523), Copenhagen (1530), Münster (1534), Geneva (1535), and Augsburg (1537).[5]

In England there was both government-sponsored removal of images and also spontaneous attacks from 1535 onwards, and in Scotland from 1559.[5] In France there were several outbreaks as part of the French Wars of Religion from 1560 onwards.

Frans Hogenberg Bildersturm 1566
Print of the destruction in the Church of Our Lady in Antwerp, the "signature event" of the Beeldenstorm, August 20, 1566, by Frans Hogenberg[1]


In France unofficial episodes of large scale destruction of art in churches by Huguenot Calvinists had begun in 1560; unlike in the Low Countries they were often physically resisted and repulsed by Roman Catholic crowds, but were to continue throughout the French Wars of Religion.[6] In Anglican England much destruction had already taken place in an organized fashion under orders from the government,[7] while in Northern Europe, groups of Calvinists marched through churches and removed images, a move which "provoked reactive riots by Lutheran mobs" in Germany and "antagonized the neighbouring Eastern Orthodox" in the Baltic region.[2][8]

Holzschnitt Schoen Bildersturm 1530
A German woodcut of 1530 titled Klagrede der armen verfolgten Götzen und Tempelbilder (English: "Complaint of the poor persecuted idols and temple pictures") by Erhard Schön.

In Germany, Switzerland and England, conversion to Protestantism had been enforced on the whole population at the level of a city, principality or kingdom, with varying degrees of discrimination, persecution or expulsion applied to those who insisted on remaining Roman Catholic. The Low Countries, Flanders, Brabant and Holland,[9] were part of the inheritance of Philip II of Spain, who was a devout Catholic and self-proclaimed protector of the Counter-Reformation, and suppressed Protestantism through his Governor-general or Regent, Margaret of Parma the illegitimate daughter of Emperor Charles V, who was herself more willing to compromise. Although Protestants so far represented only a relatively small proportion of the Netherlandish population, but including disproportionate numbers from the nobility and upper bourgeoisie, the Catholic Church had evidently lost the loyalty of the population, and traditional Catholic anti-clericalism was now dominant.[10]

The region affected was perhaps the richest in Europe, but still seethed with economic discontent among parts of the population, and had suffered a poor harvest and hard winter. However, recent historians are generally less inclined to see the movement as prompted by these factors than was the case a few decades ago.[11][12]

Die Predigt Johannes des Täufers (Bruegel)
An outdoor sermon (The Preaching of St. John the Baptist) depicted by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, apparently in 1565, the year before the Beeldenstorm movement began.

The Beeldenstorm grew out of a turn in the behaviour of Low Country Protestants starting around 1560, who became increasingly open in their religion, despite penal sanctions. Catholic preachers were interrupted in sermons, and raids were organized to rescue Protestant prisoners from jail, who then often fled into exile in France or England. Protestant views were spread by a large movement of "field sermons" or open-air sermons (Dutch: hagepreken) held outside towns, and therefore out of the jurisdiction of the town authorities. The first took place on the Cloostervelt near Hondschoote, in what is now the arrondissement of Dunkirk in French Flanders, very close to where the attacks later began, and the first one to be armed against disruption was held near Boeschepe on July 12, 1562, two months after religious war had broken out again over the (then) French border just nearby.[13]

These open-air sermons, mostly by Anabaptist or Mennonite preachers, spread through the country, attracting huge crowds, though not necessarily of those leaning to Protestantism, and in many places immediately preceded the iconoclastic attacks of August 1566. Prosecutions for heresy continued, especially in the south, although they were erratic, and in some places clergy of clearly heretical views were appointed to churches. By 1565 the authorities seem to have realized that persecution was not the answer, and the level of prosecutions slackened, and the Protestants became increasingly confident in the open.[14] A letter of July 22, 1566, from local officials to the Regent, warned that "the scandalous pillage of churches, monasteries and abbeys" was imminent.[15]

Low Countries iconoclastic attacks in 1566

Blue: The spread of the Beeldenstorm in the Low Countries. Brown: Within the independent Bishopric of Liège (Luik).

On August 10, 1566, the feast-day of Saint Lawrence, at the end of the pilgrimage from Hondschoote to Steenvoorde, the chapel of the Sint-Laurensklooster was defaced by a crowd who invaded the building. It has been suggested that the rioters connected the saint especially with Philip II, whose monastery palace of the Escorial near Madrid was dedicated to Lawrence, and was just nearing completion in 1566.[16] Iconoclastic attacks spread rapidly northwards and resulted in the destruction of not only images but all sorts of decoration and fittings in churches and other church or clergy property. However, there was relatively little loss of life, unlike similar outbreaks in France, where the clergy were often killed, and some iconoclasts too.[17]

The attacks reached the commercial centre of the Low Countries, Antwerp, on August 20, and on August 22 Ghent, where the cathedral, eight churches, twenty-five monasteries and convents, ten hospitals and seven chapels were wrecked. From there, it further spread east and north, reaching Amsterdam, then a much smaller town, by August 23, and continuing in the far north and east into October, although the main towns were mostly attacked in August. Valenciennes ("Valencijn" on the map) was the most southerly town attacked. In the east, Maastricht on September 20 and Venlo on October 5 saw attacks, but generally the outbreaks were restricted to more westerly and northern areas.[18] Over 400 churches were attacked in Flanders alone.[19]

The eye-witness Richard Clough, a Welsh Protestant merchant then in Antwerp, saw: "all the churches, chapels and houses of religion utterly defaced, and no kind of thing left whole within them, but broken and utterly destroyed, being done after such order and by so few folks that it is to be marvelled at." The Church of Our Lady in Antwerp, later made the cathedral (illustrated at top): "looked like a hell, with above 10,000 torches burning, and such a noise as if heaven and earth had got together, with falling of images and beating down of costly works, such sort that the spoil was so great that a man could not well pass through the church. So that in fine [short], I cannot write you in x sheets of paper the strange sight I saw there, organs and all destroyed."[20][21]

Nicolas Sander, an English Catholic exile who was a professor of theology at Louvain, described the destruction in the same church:

... these fresh followers of this new preaching threw down the graven [sculpted] and defaced the painted images, not only of Our Lady but of all others in the town. They tore the curtains, dashed in pieces the carved work of brass and stone, brake the altars, spoilt the clothes and corporesses, wrested the irons, conveyed away or brake the chalices and vestiments, pulled up the brass of the gravestones, not sparing the glass and seats which were made about the pillars of the church for men to sit in. ... the Blessed Sacrament of the altar ... they trod under their feet and (horrible it is to say!) shed their stinking piss upon it ... these false bretheren burned and rent not only all kind of Church books, but, moreover, destroyed whole libraries of books of all sciences and tongues, yea the Holy Scriptures and the ancient fathers, and tore in pieces the maps and charts of the descriptions of countries.[22]

Damaged relief statues in the Cathedral of Saint Martin, Utrecht.

Such details are corroborated by many other sources. Accounts of the actions of the iconoclasts from eyewitnesses and the records of the later trials of many of them make it clear that there was often a considerable element of carnival to the outbreaks, with much mockery of the images and fittings such as fonts recorded as the iconoclasts went about their work. Alcohol features largely in very many accounts, perhaps in some cases because in Netherlandish law being drunk could be regarded as a mitigating factor in criminal sentencing.[23]

The destruction frequently included ransacking the priest's house, and sometimes private houses suspected of sheltering church goods. There was much looting of common household goods from clergy houses and monasteries, and some street robberies of women's jewellery by the crowd; after the images were smashed and the property occupied, "men fed their stomachs in a carnivalesque indulgence of beer, bread, butter and cheese, while women carted off provisions for the kitchen or bedroom".[24]

There are many accounts of rituals of inversion, in which the church sometimes stood for the whole social order. Children sometimes participated enthusiastically, and street games afterwards became play battles between "papists" and "beggars". One child was killed in Amsterdam by a stone thrown in such a game.[25] Elsewhere the iconoclasts seemed to treat their actions as a job of work; in one city the group waited for the bell rung to mark the start of the working day before beginning their work. The tombs and memorial inscriptions of the patriciate and nobility, and in some cases royalty, were defaced or destroyed in several places, although secular public buildings such as town halls, and the palaces of the nobility, were not attacked.[26] In Ghent, on the one hand the memorial in a church to Charles V's sister Isabel (and so Philip's aunt) was carefully left alone, but a statue in the street of Charles V and the Virgin was destroyed.[27]

The actions were controversial among Protestants, some of whom implausibly tried to blame Catholic agent provocateurs,[28] as it became clear that "the more popular elements of the dissident movement were out of control".[29] Protestant ministers and activists returning from exile in England and elsewhere played a significant role, and individual wealthy Protestants were widely suspected of hiring men to do the work in some places, especially Antwerp.[30]

In some rural areas gangs of iconoclasts moved across country between village churches and monasteries for several days.[4][31] Elsewhere there were large crowds involved, sometimes locals, and sometimes from outside the area. In some places the nobility gave assistance, ordering the clearing of churches on their estates. Local magistracies were often opposed, but ineffective in stopping the destruction.[32] In many towns the archer's guild, who had a function in controlling public order, took no steps against the crowds.[33]

In 1566, unlike the situation after the Eighty Years War and today, Protestantism in the Low Countries was mainly concentrated in the south (roughly modern Belgium), and much weaker in the north (roughly now the Netherlands), and iconoclasm in the north began later, after news of the events in Antwerp was received, and was more successfully resisted by local authorities in some towns, although still succeeding in most.[34] Once again individually socially prominent laymen often took the lead.[35] In many places there were, or were later said to have been, false claims of official commissions from some local authority to perform the actions, and by the end of the outbreak some northern towns removed images by order of the local authority, presumably to prevent the disorder that would accompany a mob action.[36]

Analysis of the records of the later trials show a wide range of occupations, covering craftsmen and small tradespeople, especially in the textile trade, and also a variety of church employees, at a fairly low level. Where wealth and property are recorded, it is "modest at best".[37]

"Stille beeldenstorm" of 1581 in Antwerp

Following the 1566 attacks in Antwerp there was a further period of iconoclasm there in 1581, after a Calvinist city council was elected and purged the city's clergy and guilds of Catholic office-holders. This is known as the "quiet" or "stille" beeldenstorm, as the removal of images was carried out by the institutions they belonged to, the council itself, churches and the guilds. Some images were sold rather than destroyed, but most seem to have been lost. By the summer of 1584 Antwerp was besieged by the Duke of Parma's Spanish army, falling a year later.[38]

Artistic losses

Le Sac de Lyon par les Réformés - Vers1565
The looting of the Churches of Lyon by Calvinists in 1562.

Rarely was any thought given to the artistic heritage of these cities in 1566, though families were sometimes able to protect the church monuments of their ancestors, and in Delft the syndics of the painters' Guild of Saint Luke were able to rescue the altarpiece by Maarten van Heemskerck, which the guild had commissioned only 15 years earlier.[39]

The van Eycks' Ghent Altarpiece, then as now famous as a supreme example of Early Netherlandish painting and already a major tourist attraction, just restored in 1550, was saved by dismantling it and hiding it in the cathedral tower. A first attack on August 19 was deterred by a small number of guards. When a larger attack was made at night two days later the iconoclasts had provided themselves with a tree trunk as a battering ram, and succeeded in breaking through the doors.[40]

By then the panels had been removed from the frame and hidden, with the guards, on the narrow spiral staircase up the tower, with a locked door at ground level. They were not detected and the crowd left after destroying what else they could find.[40] The panels were then moved to the town hall, and only returned to view in 1569, by which time the elaborate frame had disappeared.[41]

Despite militia guards, two of the three main churches in Leiden were attacked; in the Pieterskerk the choirbooks and altarpiece by Lucas van Leyden were preserved.[42] In the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam an altarpiece with a central panel by Jan van Scorel and side panels painted on both sides by Maarten van Heemskerck was lost.[43] The most important works of several painters, especially those like Pieter Aertsen who worked in Antwerp,[44] were all destroyed, leading to a somewhat distorted view of the art history of the period. An altarpiece in Culemborg had been commissioned in 1557 from the painter Jan Dey, was then destroyed in 1566 and in 1570 recommissioned from Dey, apparently as a copy of the first. However the new work was only in place for five years before it was removed when the town went officially Calvinist.[45]


Kreuz von stadelhofen
Later depiction of the destruction of a wayside cross in Zurich in 1523.

On August 23, Margaret of Parma, the Habsburg Regent or Governor-general, whose capital of Brussels was unaffected by the movement, agreed to an "Accord" with the group of aristocratic Protestant leaders known as the "Compromise" or Geuzen ("Beggars"), by which freedom of religion was granted, in exchange for allowing Catholics to worship unmolested and an end to the violence. Instead, "the outbreak of the iconoclastic fury began an almost uninterrupted series of skirmishes, campaigns, plunder, pirate-raids, and other acts of violence. Not all areas suffered violence at the same time or to the same extent, but practically none remained unscathed."[46]

Many elite Protestants were now alarmed by the forces unleashed, and some of the nobility began to shift towards support of the government. Implementing the somewhat vague terms of the agreement led to further tensions, and William of Orange, appointed by Margaret to resolve the situation in Antwerp, tried and failed to produce a wider settlement that all parties could live with. Instead unrest continued and the episode fed into the causes of the Dutch Revolt which was to erupt two years later.[47]

On August 29 Margaret wrote a somewhat panicked letter to Philip, "claiming that half the population were infected with heresy, and that over 200,000 people were up in arms against her authority".[48] Philip decided to send the Duke of Alba with an army; he would have led them himself but was kept in Spain by other matters, especially the increasingly evident insanity of his heir, Carlos, Prince of Asturias.[49] When Alba arrived the following year, and soon replaced Margaret as Governor-general, his heavy-handed repression, which included the execution of many convicted of iconoclastic attacks the summer before, only made the situation worse.[48]

Antwerp was then Europe's largest financial and international trading centre, taking as much as 75 or 80% of English exports of cloth,[50] and the disturbances created serious and well-justified fears that its position as such was under threat. Sir Thomas Gresham, the English financier who arranged Elizabeth I's borrowings, and whose agent in Antwerp was Clough, left London for Antwerp on August 23, only hearing about the Antwerp attacks en route; he needed to roll-over 32,000 Flemish pounds and borrow another 20,000 to finance her expenses in Ireland. Dining with William of Orange on his arrival, he was asked if "the English were minded to depart this town or not", and wrote to William Cecil, Elizabeth's chief minister, "in alarm that he "liked none of their proceedings" but "apprehended great mischief", and urged that the English government "should do very well in time to consider some other realm and place" for marketing English products. It was a message that helped shape the course of events."[51]

The English had found the Antwerp money market short of funds since earlier in the year, and now made use of Cologne and Augsburg as well, but as events unfolded in the next year, and the personal position of some leading lenders became precarious, the English found to their surprise that repayments were no longer pressed for, probably as the lenders were happy to keep their money abroad on loan to a secure borrower.[52] The Dutch Revolt, which from 1585 onwards included a Dutch blockade of the River Scheldt leading to the city, was to finally destroy Antwerp as a major trading centre.

Dirck van Delen - Beeldenstorm in een kerk
The painting Beeldenstorm in een kerk, 1630, by Dirck van Delen, six decades after the original actions.

In many places there were attempts by Calvinist preachers to take over the ransacked buildings. These were usually repulsed in the period after the attacks. In the months afterwards there were attempted negotiations in many cities, by William of Orange and others, to allocate certain churches to accommodate the local Protestants, often divided into Lutherans and Calvinists. These had mostly failed within a few weeks, not least because Margaret's government rejected them; she had already had an earlier attempt at compromise overruled by Philip a few months earlier, and been embarrassingly forced to retract a decree.[53] Instead there was a wave of building or adapting Calvinist "temples", though in the end none of these were to remain in use by the following year, and their layouts, which seem to have echoed early Swiss and Scottish Calvinist designs, are now largely unknown.[54]

Once the revolt proper had started, there were many further instances of clearing churches, some still unofficial and disorderly, but as cities became officially Protestant, increasingly undertaken by official order, like the Amsterdam Alteratie ("Alteration") of 1578. Altars, to which Calvinists, unlike Lutherans, took strong exception, were typically completely removed, and in some large churches, like Utrecht Cathedral, large tomb monuments put where they stood, partly to make their return more difficult if political conditions changed. After the Eighty Years War was finally over, in the cities and areas that became Protestant, the old Catholic churches were all or nearly all taken over by the new established church of the Calvinist Dutch Reformed Church, with other congregations left to shift for themselves.[55]

The bare and empty state of those churches left in Catholic hands after the hostilities eventually ended prompted a large programme of restocking with Catholic art, which had much to do with the vigour of Northern Mannerism and later Flemish Baroque painting, and many Gothic churches were given Baroque makeovers.[56] In the north, now very largely Protestant, religious art largely disappeared, and Dutch Golden Age painting concentrated on a wide range of secular subjects, such as genre painting, landscape art and still-lifes, with results that might sometimes have surprised the Protestant ministers who initiated the movement. According to one scholar, this "was not only a dramatic change in the function of art, it was the context in which our present concept of art, what the literary critic M. H. Abrams called "art as such", first began to take shape", replacing a "construction model" where art theory concerned itself with how the maker created his work, with a "contemplation model" concerned with the effect of the finished work on a "lone perceiver" or viewer.[57]



Woodcut of 1563 from Foxe's Book of Martyrs

Guy B6

Defaced tomb effigy of Bishop Guy of Avesnes, Utrecht cathedral

See also


  1. ^ analysed in Arnade, 146 (quoted); see also Art through time
  2. ^ a b Marshall, Peter (22 October 2009). The Reformation. Oxford University Press. p. 114. ISBN 9780191578885. Iconoclastic incidents during the Calvinist 'Second Reformation' in Germany provoked reactive riots by Lutheran mobs, while Protestant image-breaking in the Baltic region deeply antagonized the neighbouring Eastern Orthodox, a group with whom reformers might have hoped to make common cause.
  3. ^ Byfield, Ted (2002). A Century of Giants, A.D. 1500 to 1600: In an Age of Spiritual Genius, Western Christendom Shatters. Christian History Project. p. 297. ISBN 9780968987391. Devoutly Catholic but opposed to Inquisition tactics, they backed William of Orange in subduing the Calvinist uprising of the Dutch beeldenstorm on behalf of regent Margaret of Parma, and had come willingly to the council at her invitation.
  4. ^ a b Kleiner, Fred S. (1 January 2010). Gardner's Art through the Ages: A Concise History of Western Art. Cengage Learning. p. 254. ISBN 9781424069224. In an episode known as the Great Iconoclasm, bands of Calvinists visited Catholic churches in the Netherlands in 1566, shattering stained-glass windows, smashing statues, and destroying paintings and other artworks they perceived as idolatrous.
  5. ^ a b John Phillips, Reformation of Images: Destruction of Art in England, 1535–1660, (Berkeley: University of California Press) 1973.
  6. ^ Eire, 279–280
  7. ^ Buchanan, Colin (4 August 2009). The A to Z of Anglicanism. Scarecrow Press. p. 26. ISBN 9780810870086. Royal Injunctions order the reading of biblical passages in English at the mass, along with the destruction of images and the provision of a “poor men's box” for alms.
  8. ^ Lamport, Mark A. (31 August 2017). Encyclopedia of Martin Luther and the Reformation. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 138. ISBN 9781442271593. Lutherans continued to worship in pre-Reformation churches, generally with few alterations to the interior. It has even been suggested that in Germany to this day one finds more ancient Marian altarpieces in Lutheran than in Catholic churches. Thus in Germany and in Scandinavia many pieces of medieval art and architecture survived. Joseph Leo Koerner has noted that Lutherans, seeing themselves in the tradition of the ancient, apostolic church, sought to defend as well as reform the use of images. "An empty, white-washed church proclaimed a wholly spiritualized cult, at odds with Luther's doctrine of Christ's real presence in the sacraments" (Koerner 2004, 58). In fact, in the 16th century some of the strongest opposition to destruction of images came not from Catholics but from Lutherans against Calvinists: "You black Calvinist, you give permission to smash our pictures and hack our crosses; we are going to smash you and your Calvinist priests in return" (Koerner 2004, 58). Works of art continued to be displayed in Lutheran churches, often including an imposing large crucifix in the sanctuary, a clear reference to Luther's theologia crucis. ... In contrast, Reformed (Calvinist) churches are strikingly different. Usually unadorned and somewhat lacking in aesthetic appeal, pictures, sculptures, and ornate altar-pieces are largely absent; there are few or no candles; and crucifixes or crosses are also mostly absent.
  9. ^ What is now approximately Belgian Limburg was part of the Bishopric of Liège and ruled by the bishop (shown in brown on the map).
  10. ^ Elliott, 90–91
  11. ^ Arnade, 95–98, and 116, especially note 105 (where "reputation" is presumably a misprint for "refutation"). Elliott, 89–91, first written in 1968, reflects a version of the older view, for which the German Marxist historian Erich Kuttner was the standard-bearer.
  12. ^ Pollmann, 179-80.
  13. ^ Petegree, 74–75
  14. ^ Petegree, 82–86
  15. ^ Arnade, 97
  16. ^ Arnade, 103–104
  17. ^ Arnade, 116
  18. ^ See map with dates in Petegree, 118; Arnade, 90–91
  19. ^ Eire, 280
  20. ^ Spicer, 109 (spelling modernized); see also Arnade, 146–148
  21. ^ Eye-witness Account of Image-breaking at Antwerp, Universiteit Leiden Archived 2012-07-09 at
  22. ^ Miola, 58–59, 59 quoted
  23. ^ Arnade, 105–111
  24. ^ Arnade, 111–112 (quote from 112); 102 for women's jewellery robbed.
  25. ^ Arnade, 111–114; for the whole paragraph: 104–122
  26. ^ Arnade, 116–124
  27. ^ Arnade, 119–120
  28. ^ Petegree, 117–119
  29. ^ Wells, 91
  30. ^ Petegree, 116–117, and elsewhere, on returning exiles; Arnade, 146–147 on paid iconoclasts
  31. ^ Arnade, 101–102; 104–109
  32. ^ Petegree, 119–124; Arnade, 120–122
  33. ^ Arnade, 120
  34. ^ Brouwer, Maria (11 August 2016). Governmental Forms and Economic Development: From Medieval to Modern Times. Springer. p. 224. ISBN 9783319420400. The city of Amsterdam pursued a policy of restraint against the Calvinists. The iconoclast movement reached Amsterdam in August 1566, but the city government had moved and stored away many church possessions before the iconoclasts reached the city. All churches were closed to tame the fury.
  35. ^ Petegree, 124–128
  36. ^ Arnade, 120–122
  37. ^ Arnade, 102
  38. ^ Freedberg, 133
  39. ^ Montias, 4
  40. ^ a b Charney, 72–73 - a populist account; when he says April he means August, and "The Lamb" refers to the altarpiece. Petegree, 118 has the Beeldenstorm reaching Ghent on August 22. See also Arnade, 118
  41. ^ Ridderbos, Bernhard; Veen, Henk Th van; Buren, Anne van (25 March 2018). "Early Netherlandish Paintings: Rediscovery, Reception and Research". Amsterdam University Press – via Google Books.
  42. ^ "Iconoclasm - Pieterskerk Leiden". 10 September 2012. Archived from the original on 10 September 2012.
  43. ^ Stechow, Wolfgang (25 March 1966). "Northern Renaissance Art, 1400-1600: Sources and Documents". Northwestern University Press – via Google Books.
  44. ^ Gustav Friedrich Waagen, [1]
  45. ^ Jacobs, Lynn F., review of Liesbeth M. Helmus, Schilderen in opdracht: Noord-Nederlandse contracten voor altaarstukken 1485–1570. Utrecht: Centraal Museum, 2010, ISBN 978-90-5983-021-9. Historians of Netherlandish art website. accessed 4 March 2011
  46. ^ Lesger, 110
  47. ^ Elliott, 91–93; Petegree, 132–134; Wells, 89–91; Arnade, 100
  48. ^ a b Luu, Liên (25 March 2018). "Immigrants and the Industries of London, 1500-1700". Ashgate – via Google Books.
  49. ^ Gelderen, Martin van (3 October 2002). "The Political Thought of the Dutch Revolt 1555-1590". Cambridge University Press – via Google Books.
  50. ^ Ramsay, 62–63
  51. ^ Ramsay, 50
  52. ^ Ramsay, 50–51
  53. ^ Ramsay, 48
  54. ^ Spicer, 110–118
  55. ^ Spicer, 116–124, and following pages
  56. ^ Vlieghe, 4, 13
  57. ^ Wagner (short quotes from Abrams), 131


  • Arnade, Peter J., Beggars, Iconoclasts, and Civic Patriots: the Political Culture of the Dutch Revolt, Cornell University Press, 2008, ISBN 0-8014-7496-5, ISBN 978-0-8014-7496-5
  • Charney, Noah, Stealing the Mystic Lamb: The True Story of the World's Most Coveted Masterpiece, PublicAffairs, 2010, ISBN 1-58648-800-7, ISBN 978-1-58648-800-0
  • Eire, Carlos M.N., War Against the Idols: The Reformation of Worship from Erasmus to Calvin, Cambridge University Press, 1989, ISBN 0-521-37984-9, ISBN 978-0-521-37984-7
  • Elliott, J.H., Europe divided, 1559–1598, many edns, pages refs from Blackwell classic histories of Europe, Wiley-Blackwell, 2nd edn. 2000 (1st edn 1968), ISBN 0-631-21780-0, ISBN 978-0-631-21780-0
  • David Freedberg, "Painting and the Counter-Reformation", from the catalogue to The Age of Rubens, 1993, Boston/Toledo, Ohio, online PDF
  • Lesger, Clé, The rise of the Amsterdam market and information exchange: merchants, commercial expansion and change in the spatial economy of the Low Countries, c. 1550–1630, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2006, ISBN 0-7546-5220-3, ISBN 978-0-7546-5220-5
  • Miola, Robert S., Early modern Catholicism: an anthology of primary sources, Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 0-19-925985-2, ISBN 978-0-19-925985-4
  • Montias, John Michael. Vermeer and His Milieu: A Web of Social History, Princeton University Press, 1991, ISBN 0-691-00289-4, ISBN 978-0-691-00289-7
  • Petegree, Andrew. Emden and the Dutch revolt: exile and the development of reformed Protestantism, Oxford University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-19-822739-6, ISBN 978-0-19-822739-7
  • Ramsay, George Daniel, The Queen's merchants and the revolt of the Netherlands: the end of the Antwerp mart, Part 2 of The end of the Antwerp mart, Manchester University Press ND, 1986, ISBN 0-7190-1849-8, ISBN 978-0-7190-1849-7
  • Spicer, Calvinist churches in early modern Europe, Manchester University Press, 2007, ISBN 0-7190-5487-7, ISBN 978-0-7190-5487-7
  • Vlieghe, H., Flemish art and architecture, 1585–1700. Yale University Press Pelican history of art, 1998, Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-07038-1
  • Wagner, Roger, "Art and Faith", Ch. 10 in: Harries, Richard and Brierley, Michael W. (eds), Public life and the place of the church: reflections to honour the Bishop of Oxford, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, 2006, ISBN 0-7546-5301-3, ISBN 978-0-7546-5301-1
  • Wells, Guy, William of Orange and the Princely Virtues, in Mack, Phyllis and Jacob, Margaret C. (eds), Politics and Culture in Early Modern Europe: Essays in Honour of H. G. Koenigsberger, Cambridge University Press, 1987, ISBN 0-521-52702-3, ISBN 978-0-521-52702-6

Further reading

  • Freedberg, David, Iconoclasm and painting in the revolt of the Netherlands, 1566–1609, 1988, Garland, ISBN 978-0-8240-0087-5
1566 in art

The year 1566 in art involved some significant events and new works.

Andreas Karlstadt

Andreas Rudolph Bodenstein von Karlstadt (1486 in Karlstadt, Bishopric of Würzburg in the Holy Roman Empire – 24 December 1541 in Basel, Canton of Basel in the Old Swiss Confederacy), better known as Andreas Karlstadt or Andreas Carlstadt or Karolostadt, or simply as Andreas Bodenstein, was a German Protestant theologian, University of Wittenberg chancellor, a contemporary of Martin Luther and a reformer of the early Reformation.

Karlstadt was a close associate of Martin Luther and one of the earliest Protestant Reformers. After Luther was concealed at Wartburg by Frederick III, Elector of Saxony, Bodenstein and Thomas Müntzer started the first iconoclastic movement in Wittenberg and preached theology that was viewed as Anabaptist, but Bodenstein and Müntzer never considered themselves to be Anabaptist.

He was a church reformer pretty much in his own right and after coming in conflict with Luther, he switched his allegiance from Lutheran to the Reformed camp, and later became a radical reformer before once again returning to the Reformed tradition. First, he served as one of many Lutheran preachers in Wittenberg. Bodenstein led a life full of travels that did not go beyond the borders of the Holy Roman Empire. He traveled to German-speaking, French-speaking and Italian-speaking lands. By the end of his life, he allied himself with Heinrich Bullinger in Switzerland and worked in Basel, where he eventually died. Despite coming closer to the Reformed tradition by the time of his death, Bodenstein maintained his own distinct understanding on many theological issues throughout much of his life.

Antoine de Lalaing, 3rd Count of Hoogstraeten

Antoine II of Lalaing (1533–1568), 3rd count of Hoogstraten, was a patron and nobleman of the Southern Netherlands. He was the son of the second count Philip de Lalaing and his wife Anna of Rennenberg.

At the age of 22 he took possession of the Gelmelslot at Hoogstraten. He became governor of Mechelen at an early age, and in 1558 he was allowed to receive the Holy Sepulcher Knights to their first chapter. In 1560 he married Eleonora de Montmorency in Weert. They had a son, William of Lalaing.

In 1566 the Beeldenstorm broke out, and he replaced William of Orange as governor of Antwerp.

Like the counts Lamoraal, count of Egmont and Philip de Montmorency, count of Horn, Hoogstraten was summoned by the Duke of Alba to Brussels to appear before the Council of Troubles. Hoogstraten was on his way to Brussels when he heard that Egmont and Hoorn had been arrested in Brussels. He immediately turned around, took from his castle his most important possessions, and fled on horseback to Cologne. As a consequence, the Duke of Alba banished him, confiscated his possessions, and deprived him of all his rights and privileges, and his library was moved to Madrid.

Despite all this, Antoine II of Lalaing remained resolute in his support of William of Orange. In a military manoeuver near Tienen after the Battle of Jodoigne, where the army of William of Orange was forced by the Duke of Alba to retreat over the kleine Gete, he was hit in the foot by a shot from his own gun, and on 11 December 1568 he succumbed to his injuries.

Antwerp school

The Antwerp School was a school of artists active in Antwerp, first during the 16th century when the city was the economic center of the Low Countries, and then during the 17th century when it became the artistic stronghold of the Flemish Baroque under Peter Paul Rubens.

Athenaeum Illustre of Amsterdam

Athenaeum Illustre, or Amsterdamse Atheneum, was a city-sponsored 'illustrous school' founded after the beeldenstorm in the old Agnieten chapel on the Oudezijds Voorburgwal 231 in Amsterdam. Famous scientists such as Caspar Barlaeus, Gerardus Vossius, and Petrus Camper taught here.

Cult image

In the practice of religion, a cult image is a human-made object that is venerated or worshipped for the deity, spirit or daemon that it embodies or represents. In several traditions, including the ancient religions of Egypt, Greece and Rome, and modern Hinduism, cult images in a temple may undergo a daily routine of being washed, dressed, and having food left for them. Processions outside the temple on special feast days are often a feature. Religious images cover a wider range of all types of images made with a religious purpose, subject, or connection. In many contexts "cult image" specifically means the most important image in a temple, kept in an inner space, as opposed to what may be many other images decorating the temple.

The term idol is often synonymous with cult image. In cultures where idolatry is not viewed negatively, the word idol is not generally seen as pejorative, such as in Indian English.


Flanders (Dutch: Vlaanderen [ˈvlaːndərə(n)] (listen), French: Flandre French pronunciation: ​[flɑ̃dʁ], German: Flandern German pronunciation: [ˈflandɐn]) is the Dutch-speaking northern portion of Belgium and one of the communities, regions and language areas of Belgium. However, there are several overlapping definitions, including ones related to culture, language, politics and history, and sometimes involving neighbouring countries. The demonym associated with Flanders is Fleming, while the corresponding adjective is Flemish. The official capital of Flanders is Brussels, although the Brussels Capital Region has an independent regional government, and the government of Flanders only oversees the community aspects of Flanders life in Brussels such as (Flemish) culture and education.

Flanders, despite not being the biggest part of Belgium by area, is the area with the largest population (68.5%). 7,876,873 out of 11,491,346 Belgian inhabitants live in Flanders or the bilingual city of Brussels. Not including Brussels, there are five modern Flemish provinces.

In medieval contexts, the original "County of Flanders" stretched around AD 900 from the Strait of Dover to the Scheldt estuary and expanded from there. This county also still corresponds roughly with the modern-day Belgian provinces of West Flanders and East Flanders, along with neighbouring parts of France and the Netherlands. Although this original meaning is still relevant, during the 19th and 20th centuries it became increasingly commonplace to use the term "Flanders" to refer to the entire Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, stretching all the way to the River Meuse, as well as cultural movements such as Flemish art. In accordance with late 20th century Belgian state reforms the Belgian part of this area was made into two political entities: the "Flemish Community" (Dutch: Vlaamse Gemeenschap) and the "Flemish Region" (Dutch: Vlaams Gewest). These entities were merged, although geographically the Flemish Community, which has a broader cultural mandate, covers Brussels, whereas the Flemish Region does not.

Flanders, by every definition, has figured prominently in European history since the Middle Ages. In this period, cities such as Ghent, Bruges, and later Antwerp made it one of the richest and most urbanized parts of Europe, trading, and weaving the wool of neighbouring lands into cloth for both domestic use and export. As a consequence, a very sophisticated culture developed, with impressive achievements in the arts and architecture, rivaling those of northern Italy. Belgium was one of the centres of the 19th century industrial revolution but Flanders was at first overtaken by French-speaking Wallonia. In the second half of the 20th century, and due to massive national investments in port infrastructures, Flanders' economy modernised rapidly, and today Flanders and Brussels are significantly more wealthy than Wallonia and in general one of the wealthiest regions in Europe and the world.Geographically, Flanders is mainly flat, and has a small section of coast on the North Sea. Much of Flanders is agriculturally fertile and densely populated, with a population density of almost 500 people per square kilometer (1,200 per square mile). It touches France to the west near the coast, and borders the Netherlands to the north and east, and Wallonia to the south. The Brussels Capital Region is an officially bilingual enclave within the Flemish Region. Flanders has exclaves of its own: Voeren in the east is between Wallonia and the Netherlands and Baarle-Hertog in the north consists of 22 exclaves surrounded by the Netherlands.

Floris of Montmorency

Floris van Montmorency, baron of Montigny (?, 1528 - Simancas, 14 October 1570) was a noble and diplomat from the Spanish Netherlands.

He was born as the son of Jozef van Montmorency, Count of Nevele and Anna van Egmont the Elder, and was the younger brother of Philip de Montmorency, Count of Horn.

Floris had a military training at the court of his relative Anne de Montmorency, Constable of France.

He accompanied Emperor Charles V to Spain after his abdication. At his return, Floris became a Knight in the Order of the Golden Fleece with the support of William the Silent and against the wishes of Philip II of Spain. He was also appointed as Governor of the Tournaisis.

As the rest of the high nobility in Flanders, Floris was a strong opponent to Cardinal Granvelle.

In April 1566, he was sent by the Council of State with John IV of Glymes to Spain in a last attempt to avoid war. As Glymes was wounded on the leg before leaving, Floris travelled alone. When the Beeldenstorm raged across the Low Countries, Floris was arrested and kept in house arrest in the castle at Simancas. When Egmont en Horn were arrested in Brussels, Floris was also condemned to death by the Council of Troubles. Instead of returning him to the Low Countries for his sentence to be executed, Philip II of Spain had Floris strangled in secret despite the pleas of his new wife Anna of Austria to release Floris, and spread the rumor that he had died of disease.

Haarlem Guild of St. Luke

The Haarlem Guild of Saint Luke was first a Christian, and later a city Guild for a large number of trades falling under the patron saints Luke the Evangelist and Saint Eligius.

History of Flanders

This article describes the history of Flanders. The definition of the territory called "Flanders" (Dutch: Vlaanderen), however, has varied throughout history.

The historical county of Flanders is now split into different countries. It roughly encompassed Zeelandic Flanders in the Netherlands, French Flanders in France, and the Belgian provinces of West Flanders, East Flanders as well as part of Hainaut. The city of Ghent was the capital.

The contemporary territory of Flanders (i.e., the Flemish Region as the Dutch-speaking part of the Kingdom of Belgium) contains within it the core of the old county, West Flanders and East Flanders, plus three more provinces to the east which were not originally part of Flanders. These are the provinces of Antwerp and Flemish Brabant which were historically part of the Duchy of Brabant, and the province of Belgian Limburg, which was part of the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. (The city of Brussels, historically part of Brabant, is now politically part of the Flemish Community but not of the Flemish Region.)

Thus, the modern Belgian provinces of West and East Flanders have always been part of a political territory named Flanders, while the provinces Antwerp, Flemish Brabant and Belgian Limburg, though Dutch-speaking, have not.


Iconoclasm is the social belief in the importance of the destruction of icons and other images or monuments, most frequently for religious or political reasons. People who engage in or support iconoclasm are called iconoclasts, a term that has come to be figuratively applied to any individual who challenges "cherished beliefs or venerated institutions on the grounds that they are erroneous or pernicious".Conversely, one who reveres or venerates religious images is called (by iconoclasts) an iconolater; in a Byzantine context, such a person is called an iconodule or iconophile.The term does not generally encompass the specific destruction of images of a ruler after his death or overthrow (damnatio memoriae).

Iconoclasm may be carried out by adherents of a different religion, but it is more often the result of sectarian disputes between factions of the same religion. Within Christianity, iconoclasm has generally been motivated by those who adopt a strict interpretation of the Ten Commandments, which forbid the making and worshipping of "graven images or any likeness of anything". The later Church Fathers identified Jews, fundamental iconoclasts, with heresy and saw deviations from orthodox Christianity and opposition to the veneration of images as heresies that were essentially "Jewish in spirit". The degree of iconoclasm among Christian branches greatly varies. Islam, in general, tends to be more iconoclastic than Christianity, with Sunni Islam being more iconoclastic than Shia Islam.

Jan Sanders van Hemessen

Jan Sanders van Hemessen (c. 1500 – c. 1566) was a leading Flemish Renaissance painter, belonging to the group of Italianizing Flemish painters called the Romanists, who were influenced by Italian Renaissance painting. Van Hemessen had visited Italy during the 1520s, and also Fontainebleau near Paris in the mid 1530s, where he was able to view the work of the colony of Italian artists known as the First School of Fontainebleau, who were working on the decorations for the Palace of Fontainebleau. Van Hemessen's works show his ability to interpret the Italian models into a new Flemish visual vocabulary.Hemessen played an important role in the development of genre painting, through his large scenes with religious or worldly subjects, set in towns with contemporary dress and architecture. These works depict human failings such as greed and vanit, and some show an interest in subjects with a financial angle. His genre scenes develop the "Mannerist inversion" later taken further by Pieter Aertsen, where a small religious scene in the background reveals the true meaning of the painting, which is dominated by a large foreground scene seemingly devoted to a secular genre subject. One of his best known works, the Parable of the Prodigal Son, expresses a religious theme through a pure genre painting set in a tavern and can be regarded as an important early statement of the merry company tradition. He also painted a small number of portraits, some of exceptional quality, influenced by Bronzino. Van Hemessen was also known for his large nude figures, a subject matter that he had familiarised himself with in Italy.He was based in Antwerp between 1519 and 1550, joining the artist's Guild of Saint Luke there in 1524. After 1550 he may have moved to Haarlem. He painted several religious subjects, and many others may have been destroyed in the Beeldenstorm that swept through Antwerp in the year of his death.

Lutheran art

Lutheran art consists of all religious art produced for Lutherans and the Lutheran Churches. This includes sculpture, painting, and architecture. Artwork in the Lutheran Churches arose as a distinct marker of the faith during the Reformation era and attempted to illustrate, supplement and portray in tangible form the teachings of Lutheran theology.

Maerten de Vos

Maerten de Vos, Maerten de Vos the Elder or Marten de Vos (1532 – 4 December 1603) was a Flemish painter mainly of history paintings and portraits. He became, together with the brothers Ambrosius Francken I and Frans Francken I, one of the leading history painters in the Spanish Netherlands after Frans Floris’ career slumped in the second half of the sixteenth century as a result of the Iconoclastic fury of the Beeldenstorm.

De Vos was a prolific draughtsman and produced numerous designs for the Antwerp printers.

Menso Alting

Menso Alting (Eelde, 9 November 1541 – Emden, 7 October 1612) was a Dutch Reformed preacher and reformer.

Menso Alting was born in Eelde and was raised in a Catholic family. After visiting several schools in the Netherlands and Germany, he studied theology at Cologne. In 1564 he was named vicar to Haren. A few months later he was named pastor of Sleen. Menso Alting probably never visited Sleen and Haren, instead using the functions, which had been given thanks to influential family-members, as a source of income.

In 1565, during his study Menso joined the Protestant Reformation. He continued his studies in Heidelberg. After finished his studies Menso Alting travelled back to Helpen, now a district of Groningen and Sleen, this time to convert the inhabitants to Calvinism.

As a result of the Protestant persecutions in the Netherlands after the Beeldenstorm, Menso Alting fled to Germany in July 1567. Travelling through Leiselheim (at Worms), Dirmstein (at Frankenthal) and Heidelberg he eventually reached Emden in East-Frisia in 1575. Around this time about half of the city's inhabitants were Protestant refugees from the Netherlands; an estimated 6000 Dutch people went to Emden during the second half of the 16th century.

In October 1575 he became preacher of the Great church in Emden, as well as a political leader. He succeeded the Dutch reformer Albertus Risaeus, who had died in 1574. Alting caused a breakthrough for Calvinism in Emden. Shortly after he became preacher, countess Anna von Oldenburg died. Menso Alting led the Calvinistic funeral services.

Count William Louis, stadtholder of Friesland, invited Menso Alting to Drenthe in 1594 to preach there. From this period Menso Alting received his nickname the reformer of Drenthe. It is known that he used a hunebed as pulpit for his sermons. This hunebed is still locally known as the Popeless church.

In March 1595, Menso Alting played a large role in the rebellion of the Calvinistic inhabitants of Emden against the Lutheran count of East-Frisia, Edzard II. Menso, who hoped that Emden would join the Dutch Republic, roused the population. Not long after the city declared itself independent from East-Frisia. In the treaty of Delfzijl on 15 July 1595, Emden received a semi-autonomous status, which it would keep until 1744.

Menso Alting died at the age of seventy in Emden.

Michaël Zeeman

Michaël Zeeman (12 September 1958, Marken – 27 July 2009, Rotterdam) was a Dutch journalist, author, editor, columnist and literary critic. He received the C. Buddingh'-prijs, given annually for the best debut in Dutch poetry (named for C. Buddingh'), for Beeldenstorm in 1991. He was also awarded the Gouden Ganzenveer, given to people who have significantly contributed to Dutch literary culture, in 2002.Zeeman died in July 2009 at the age of 50, of a brain tumor.

Pieterskerk, Leiden

The Pieterskerk is a late-Gothic church in Leiden dedicated to Saint Peter. It is known today as the church of the Pilgrim Fathers, where the pastor John Robinson was buried. It is also the burial place of the scientist Willebrord Snellius.


Steenvoorde is a commune in the Nord department in northern France. Once part of the Seventeen Provinces of the Low Countries, Steenvoorde was the site of the beginning of the Beeldenstorm, or "Iconoclastic Fury." Today the city is known for its Géants du Nord, sculptures of giants that can be admired in summer festivals.

Weyn Ockers

Weyn Ockers, or Weyn Duijf Adriaen Ockersdr (died 22 June 1568 in Amsterdam), was a Dutch Protestant sentenced to death for having taken part in the iconoclastic riots in Amsterdam in 1566.

Ockers was a member of the Amsterdam elite. Her father, Adriaen Ockersz, had been a notary on the Kalverstraat and her husband, Jurriaen ter Meulen, owned a house on the Zeedijk, then a wealthy neighborhood. Her mother's mother, Lijsbeth Jans, had been executed for participating in the anabaptist riots in Amstedam in 1534-35. She must have been tall, as she was also known as "Lange [tall] Weyn".In March 1568 she and her maid Trijn Hendricks were arrested for allegedly participating in the first day of the beeldenstorm in Amsterdam one and a halve years earlier (23 August 1566) and particularly for taking home a small stone dog from a toppled over statue of Saint Roch in the Oude Kerk. On the March 13 hearing, both women denied this, while admitting that they briefly had been in that church that day and that they had visited Protestant sermons since. A week after their arrest, another person accused of heresy declared under torture that Weyn had thrown her slipper at a statue of the Virgin Mary on the altar; the priest of the Oude Kerk, Simon Slecht, had encouraged young women to adore this statue with valuable objects, leading to accusations of enrichment and general ire. Under torture, Weyn confessed on March 21 that she had thrown her slipper, breaking a glass part of the altar in the process, and together with her maid Trijn had even broken several statues. Trijn did not confess anything under torture, but both women were sentenced to death. They were drowned in a water-filled wine barrel on Dam Square two months later.The details of her case were written down by Laurens Jacobsz Reael, an early protestant leader in Amsterdam and father of Laurens Reael, future Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies and admiral of the Dutch Republican Navy.

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