Looting of a Village, the so-called Peasant Distress

Flemish Painter

Photo: UMJ/N. Lackner

Flemish Painter, mid 17th century

Looting of a Village, the so-called Peasant Distress

Oil on wood

Inv. no. 553

Looting of a Village


Mercilessly depicted scenes of violence demonstrate the increased interest which art had in the warfare of the time. The numerous depictions of cruel attacks against innocent bystanders and the defenceless were products created solely in the studios. Yet they reflect everyday life in an epoch marked by the constant violence of the Thirty Years’ War, which did not grant civilians any special protection status. Among the major shortcomings of early modern warfare were constant supply shortages and pay arrears, which resulted in soldiers reserving for themselves the right to redress the balance through looting, especially to the detriment of villagers. The arbitrariness of the unbridled violence which prevailed was a feature of both sides: there was no distinction between friend and foe.

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