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In this satirical Flemish painting, c. 1586. - i.e. three years after the Antwerp fiasco - the cow represents the Dutch provinces is shown defecating on the hands of the Duke of Anjou, who is holding its tail. (Other figures are King Philip II of Spain, vainly trying to ride the cow, drawing blood with his spurs; Queen Elizabeth is feeding it while William of Orange holds it steady by the horns.

The "French Fury" was a failed attempt by François, Duke of Anjou to conquer the city of Antwerp by surprise on January 17, 1583.

During the Eighty Years' War the States-General had asked in 1581 the French Duke to become head of state of the Seventeen Provinces, to obtain French support in expelling the Spanish troops.

Anjou did not have much influence in the Netherlands, and attempted to seize more power. He decided to try to occupy Antwerp, the largest city of the Seventeen Provinces, by surprise. Antwerp had already been comprehensively sacked by Spanish troops in the "Spanish Fury" of 1576.

Unfortunately for Anjou his plan was discovered. The inhabitants, still traumatised by the Spanish plunder seven years earlier, were determined to prevent another occupation by foreign troops by all means possible.

On January 17, 1583, in an attempt to fool the citizens of Antwerp, Anjou asked to be permitted to enter the city in order to honour them with a Royal Entry. As soon as the troops entered the city, the gates of Antwerp were slammed shut behind them. The French troops were trapped in the city and were bombarded from windows and rooftops with stones, rocks, logs and even heavy chains. The city's garrison then opened a deadly, point-blank fire on the troops. Only a few Frenchmen, including the Duke of Anjou, escaped. Over 1,500 troops perished, many of them hacked to death by the enraged citizens of Antwerp.

The position of Anjou after this attack became untenable and he left the country in June 1583. His departure also discredited William the Silent, who had always supported Anjou.

The city was eventually conquered by the Spanish under Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma after the Siege of Antwerp (1584-1585).



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