Jan Luyken: The alteratie of Amsterdam (1679 - 1694)


(Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands)
An engraving by the Dutch artist Jan Luyken (1649-1712). This print shows an episode during the Dutch war of independence. After the Dutch rebels managed to take the town of Den Briel on April 1, 1572, most of the cities in the Western part of the Netherlands joined the rebellion against the Spanish empire. One of the most important towns not to join the rebellion was Amsterdam which remained loyal to the Spanish crown. After several years of fighting the Spanish had failed to crush the starting rebellion and Spain had declared bankruptcy in 1575. Some soldiers of the Spanish army the Netherlands hadn't been paid in about 2 years and attacked cities loyal the Spanish empire. On 4 November 1576, about 6,000 of these mutinying Spanish soldiers attacked and plundered Antwerp for about 3 days, resulting in about 6000 dead and the decline of Antwerp as a commercial hub. As a result of this massacre, the Dutch rebels united against Spanish crown and on 8 November 1576 the 'Pacification of Ghent' was signed between the rebellious provinces of Holland and Zeeland and the still loyal provinces of the Habsburg Netherlands for the purpose of driving mutinying Spanish mercenary troops from the country and promoting a peace treaty with the rebelling provinces. As a consequence of this treaty, the city of Amsterdam was forced to subject itself to the leader of the Dutch rebels, Prince William I 'the silent' of Orange. The catholic city council however wanted to remain loyal to Spain and resisted the treaty. Protestant Dutch rebels started to isolate the city and blocked trade in and out of the city and tensions between the catholic city council and protestant citizens started to build up. When the civic guard of Amsterdam asked the city council for permission to build a protestant church within Amsterdam the city council refused and thing escalated. On may 26, 1578 members of the civic guard of Amsterdam together with protestant citizens stormed the city hall and seized the catholic city-council. Its members were send to ships (shown here) which transported the city council outside of the city. A new city council was installed (consisting of 30 Calvinists and 10 Catholics) and most of the catholic churches and monasteries were closed or handed over to protestants. Engraving from 1679-1694.

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