Two scenes from a stained glass window designed by Dirk Crabeth in the Sint Janskerk in Gouda (the Netherlands) showing Judith, after she decapitated Holofernes. This story comes from the Book of Judith in the Bible: Judith, a beautiful widow, is able to enter the tent of Holofernes because of his desire for her. Holofernes was an Assyrian general who was about to destroy Judith's home, the city of Bethulia in Israel. Overcome with drink, he passes out and is decapitated by Judith. This story was very popular in Renaissance art, among others because of the combination of sex and violence.
This window was designed in 1571, three years after the start of the Eighty Years' War in 1568. It therefore refers primarily to the brave fight of the Seventeen Provinces – which included the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and a part of Northern France – against a foreign power: in this case Philip II of Spain. At the time, the Sint Janskerk was just rebuilt after the big fire of 1552 and was decorated with impressive stained glass windows. The city authorities initially took the side of Spain, but under pressure from the Holland province had to switch to the side of the Seventeen Provinces. Their precondition that religious freedom would be guaranteed in the city, was respected only a few years.
In 1573 the Catholic religion was forbidden everywhere in Holland and the Sint Janskerk was converted to Protestantism. The 45 altars and most sculptures, considered as idolatry by the Protestants, were removed. Its huge stained glass windows, however, were left intact.
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