The city of Leiden was besieged from 1573 until 1574, when it was finally relieved. Leiden’s Relief (Leidens Ontzet) is celebrated annually in order to commemorate the siege during the Eighty Years’ War and the relief of the city on October 3, 1574.
The siege and the relief of the City of Leiden took place during the Eighty Years’ War (1568-1648). Intially the City Council remained loyal to the Sovereign Lord King Filips II of Spain, but in June 1572, the city chose to be loyal to Prince William of Orange. In an attempt to regain power over the city, the Spanish starved the inhabitants of Leiden in order to force them to surrender. During the second siege, 6000 of the 18000 inhabitants of Leiden died of starvation and the plague. The City Council remained unmoved and would not even consider surrendering to the Spanish oppressor.