BRUEGEL, Pieter the Elder
(b. ca. 1525, Brogel, d. 1569, Brussel)

The Massacre of the Innocents (detail)

Oil on panel
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

The Bible tells us that King Herod ordered the killing of all newborn boys in Bethlehem. Bruegel has placed the scene in a Netherlands village. A group of armoured horsemen are supervising the slaughter. It was one of the characteristics of Spanish troops that they held their lances in an absolutely upright position. The troop's leader, clad in black and with a long white beard, is presumably intended as a reference to the Duke of Alba.