Beeldenstorm in Dutch (roughly "image storm" or "statue storm"), and Bildersturm in German ("image/statue storm") are terms used for outbreaks of destruction of religious images that occurred in Europe in the 16th century, known in English as the Great Iconoclasm or Iconoclastic Fury. During these spates of iconoclasm, Catholic art and many forms of church fittings and decoration were destroyed in unofficial or mob actions by Calvinist Protestant crowds as part of the Protestant Reformation.[2][3] Most of the destruction was of art in churches and public places.[4]

Protestant polemical print celebrating the destruction, 1566
Print of the destruction in the Church of Our Lady in Antwerp, the "signature event" of the Beeldenstorm, August 20, 1566, by Frans Hogenberg[1]

The Dutch term usually specifically refers to the wave of disorderly attacks in the summer of 1566 that spread rapidly through the Low Countries from south to north. Similar outbreaks of iconoclasm took place in other parts of Europe, especially in Switzerland and the Holy Roman Empire in the period between 1522 and 1566, notably Zürich (in 1523), Copenhagen (1530), Münster (1534), Geneva (1535), and Augsburg (1537).[5]

In England, there was both government-sponsored removal of images and also spontaneous attacks from 1535 onwards, and in Scotland from 1559.[5] In France, there were several outbreaks as part of the French Wars of Religion from 1560 onwards.