Jan Michiel Ruyten – Spanish fury on the Handschoenmarkt in Antwerp, 1830
A Spanish Fury (or the Spanish Terror) was one of a number of violent sackings of cities in the Low Countries mostly by Spanish Habsburg armies, that occurred in the years 1572–1579 during the Dutch Revolt. In some cases the sack did not follow the taking of a city. In others the sack was ordered, or at least not restrained, by Spanish commanders after the fall of a city.
The most famous Spanish Fury was the Sack of Antwerp in 1576. In English this, or the mutinous campaign of 1576 in general, tend to be what is meant by “Spanish Fury”. In Dutch the term can include a wider range of sackings, in particular the city punishments of 1572. Myths and exaggerations about the sacks form a significant part of the Black Legend relating to Spain.
The English Fury at Mechelen in 1580 was a less well-known sacking by largely English mercenaries for the Calvinist side.
The Sack of Antwerp, often known as the Spanish Fury at Antwerp, was an episode of the Eighty Years’ War. It is the greatest massacre in Belgian history.
On 4 November 1576, mutinying Spanish tercios of the Army of Flanders began the sack of Antwerp, leading to three days of horror among the population of the city, which was the cultural, economic and financial center of the Low Countries. The savagery of the sack led the provinces of the Low Countries to unite against the Spanish crown. The devastation also caused Antwerp’s decline as the leading city in the region and paved the way for Amsterdam’s rise.
Some 7,000 lives and a great deal of property were lost. The cruelty and the destruction of the three days of pillage became known as the Spanish Fury.
The Black Legend, or the Spanish Black Legend, is a black legend consisting of anti-Spanish and anti-Catholic propaganda which started in the 16th century, originally as a political and psychological weapon by Spain’s rivals in the attempt of demonizing the Spanish Empire, its people and culture, and countering its influence and power in world affairs. The assimilation of primarily English and German propaganda into mainstream history created an anti-Hispanic bias in subsequent historians and a distorted view of the history of Spain, Latin America, and other parts of the world. Although the 16th- and 17th-century Spanish black legend has general historical consensus, aspects of the legend are still debated. Charles Gibson described it as “The accumulated tradition of propaganda and Hispanophobia according to which the Spanish Empire is regarded as cruel, bigoted, exploitative and self-righteous in excess of reality”. Like other black legends, the Spanish black legend combined fabrications, de-contextualization, exaggeration, cherry picking and double standards with facts.
Jan Michiel Ruyten or Jan Ruyten (9 April 1813, in Antwerp – 12 November 1881, in Antwerp) was a Belgian Romantic painter, draughtsman and engraver known for his genre paintings, cityscapes, landscapes with figures and history paintings. He was influenced by Dutch Romantic painting.