Cornelis Anthonisz.: Squad A of the Cloveniers civic guard of Amsterdam (1531)

(Amsterdam Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Another civic guard piece from the Netherlands. This is an older painting which depicts a complete squad (or 'Rot' in dutch) from the Cloveniers (a type of musket) civic guard of Amsterdam. The identity of these men are not known but it is thought that the 5th from left and 5th from right are the officers of these men - they stand more in the front while the other 15 men seem to stand in two circles around them. The 17 are depicted in full armour and several hold their musket. The small shield in the middle shows that these men are from squad A. The text left and right paper below them has a text from Seneca:

On the right in Latin:
Ad h(oc) Sacrame(n)t(u)m aducti sum(u)s ferre mortalia/et non p(er)turbari his quae n(ost)rae p(otesta)tis no(n) est, vitare./Anno 1531. Seneca in vit. beat. cap. 15      

On the left in Dutch:
"Wij zijn door deezen plechtighen eed verbonden de waereldsche zaaken gheduldig te verdraaghen, en ons niet te laaten beroeren door die zaaken die wij niet in onze macht hebben om te vermijden. Seneca."

The Dutch text translates somewhat as: "We are unified by this sacred oath to patiently endure the worldly affairs and not let those things which we cannot change, trouble us"

Notice also the two small angels in the upper right corner who uphold a sacramental bread (Hostia).

The civic guards considered themselves as guardians of the unity of a city, this is shown on the painting by the armour, weapons and text (the sacred oath in the text is the oath of loyalty which a civic guard had swear when he entered the unit). The text and sacramental bread also refers to another duty of the civic guards - that of escorting the sacramental bread during the many religious (catholic) processions. During the 16th century saw the rise of protestants in the Netherlands. Protestants don't believe in the transubstantiation of the hostia (that the bread is changed or altered into the Body of Christ with the words of institution ('take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body which will be given up for you). Because of this an increasing number of Protestant civic guards refused to take part in the religious processions for the hostia. The inclusion of the hostia on this painting shows that these men support the woreship of the hostia and therefore are catholic. When Amsterdam deposed its Catholic city government in favor of a Protestant one on May 26, 1578 (the Alteratie of Amsterdam) during the Dutch war of independence (1568-1648), the religious processions for the hostia were abondoned completely. Painting from 1531.