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The Execution of the Martyrs of Gorkum, c.1580 (engraving)

The Execution of the Martyrs of Gorkum, c.1580 (engraving)

The Martyrs of Gorkum were a group of 19 Dutch Catholic clerics and friars who were hanged on 9 July 1572 in the town of Brielle (or Den Briel) during the 16th century religious wars in the Low Countries.
As of 1572, Lutheranism and Calvinism had spread through a great part of Europe. In the Netherlands this was followed by a struggle between the two denominations in which Calvinism was victorious. On 1 April of the next year, Calvinist forces and a rebel group called the Watergeuzen (Sea Beggars) conquered Brielle (Den Briel) and later Vlissingen (Flushing). Because of anti-Protestant edicts and persecution by the Spanish government, on 1 April 1572 the Watergeuzen or Gueux de mer (water-/sea-beggars, i.e., rebels), rebelled against the Habsburg crown which ruled the Low Countries, conquered Brielle and later Vlissingen and other places.