|Part of the Eighty Years' War|
In this satirical Flemish painting from three years after the Antwerp fiasco, c. 1586, the cow representing the Dutch provinces is shown defecating on the hands of the Duke of Anjou, who is holding its tail. (Other figures are Philip II of Spain, vainly trying to ride the cow, drawing blood with his spurs; Elizabeth I of England is feeding it while William of Orange holds it steady by the horns.)
|France||People of Antwerp|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Francis, Duke of Anjou|
|Casualties and losses|
|1,500+ dead or wounded|
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 17 January 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 Anjou's troopers entered the city, the gates of Antwerp were slammed shut behind them. Having lost the advantage of surprise, the small French army found itself hopelessly trapped within the city as it was bombarded from windows and rooftops with stones, rocks, logs and even heavy chains. The city's experienced garrison then opened up 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. One contemporary account is by Jean Bodin, an adviser to Anjou who likewise escaped the slaughter.
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.
- George Edmundson, "The 'French Fury' at Antwerp (1583)", in Cambridge Modern History, edited by A. W. Ward, G. W. Prothero and Stanley Leathes, vol. 3 (Cambridge, 1907), p. 256.
- Louis Prosper Gachard, ed., "Lettre de Jean Bodin sur l'entreprise du duc d'Anjou contre la ville d'Anvers", Compte rendu des séances de la Commission Royale d'histoire ou recueil de ses bulletins, 2nd series, 12 (1859), pp. 458-463.