The film focuses on a dozen of the 500 characters depicted in Bruegel’s painting. The theme of Christ’s suffering is set against religious persecution in Flanders in 1564.
City of Antwerp, 1572
- Habsburg Netherlands / Seventeen Provinces (1549–1581)
Antwerp also became a great cultural centre: its school of painting began to flourish at the end of the 15th century; the city’s printing houses became known throughout Europe; and humanism began to thrive. In the early 16th century, Antwerp became a centre of Protestant activity.
By the 1560s, the Protestant community had become a significant influence in the Netherlands. In a society dependent on trade, freedom and tolerance were considered essential. Nevertheless, the Catholic rulers Charles V, and later Philip II, made it their mission to defeat Protestantism, which was considered a heresy by the Catholic Church and a threat to the stability of the whole hierarchical political system. Between 1523 and 1566, more than 1,300 people were executed as heretics in the Netherlands.