Bombardment of 1695
- The pretext for the bombardment of Brussels by the army of the marshal of Villero n August 1695 was the bombardment of French ports on the English Channel by the English and Dutch fleets. The War of the League of Augsburg (1688-1697) found King Louis XIV facing English, Dutch, and Austrian opposition, and the French king hoped to draw away the army of King William III from its siege of the citadel of Namur, occupied by the French. The attack was as much a psychological ploy as a tactical move. The French hoped to instill terror among the populace by razing the capital of the Austrian Netherlands. On 11 August 1695, a French force of about 70,000 took up positions at Anderlecht, where the marshal of Villeroi established his headquarters in the convent of the Minimes. Artillery batteries were placed on the heights near the port de Ninove. The bombardment began on the evening of 13 August and did not cease until sometime during the day on 15 August. More than 3,000 assorted cannonballs and shot rained down on the city, setting afire close to 4,000 buildings. The center of the city was especially hard hit, notably the townhouses and guildhalls on the Grand' Place and the Hôtel de Ville. The spire of the church of Notre-Dame de la Chapelle was shattered. Reconstruction proved swift over the several years succeeding the attack, and damages were largely made good within five years.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.
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