Turning sacrilege into victory: Catholic memories of iconoclasm, 1566-1700

H.M.E.P. Kuijpers, Judith Pollmann

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This chapter demonstrates the ancient narrative motifs that are associated with image-breaking retained a powerful presence in local oral, material and scribal memories of iconoclasm in the seventeenth century, ensuring that Catholic memories were shaped by pre-Reformation narrative motifs, rather than by a sense of rupture. It shows that when recalling iconoclasm, Catholics focused on single images and relics which had resisted attack, or which had (allegedly) punished iconoclasts attacking them – and the presence of such images was a trigger for the stories. Together, stories and associated material evidence of sacrilege were turned into evidence for the power of the sacred, or more precisely, for the power of a particular image in a particular location. The chapter explores what the stories did not tell, but nevertheless implied: most other images had actually not stood the test to which they had been exposed by the iconoclasts. It outlines how iconoclasm became one of the defining features of the Dutch Revolt.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRhythms of revolt
Subtitle of host publicationEuropean Traditions and Memories of Social Conflict in Oral Culture
EditorsÉva Guillorel, David Hopkin, William G. Pooley
Place of PublicationLondon, New York
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781315467856
ISBN (Print)9781138205048, 9780367232061
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • iconoclasm
  • memory culture
  • oralilty
  • Dutch Revolt
  • sacrilege
  • early modern history


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