Iconoclasm is the destruction on a large scale of religious sculptures and other objects in Western history, a series of vandalism on Catholic shrines in many European countries, on the rise of Protestantism : 1522 in Wittenberg, 1523 in Zurich, 1530 in Copenhagen, 1534in  Münster, 1535 in Geneva, 1537 in Augsburg, 1559 in Scotland and finally in 1566 in France and the Netherlands.

Especially the destruction in the Low Countries, which took place between August 10 and October 1566, looked like a storm, in three weeks time many hundreds of churches were destroyed and irreparably violated. This indirectly led to the  outbreak of the Eighty Years War and the emergence of the Republic of Seven United Provinces.

From mid-August 1566 the iconoclastic storm was raging in the Low Countries. The mayor of Leyden was alarmed by reports from other cities set a meeting on Sunday, August 25. The sexton of the Leiden three churches were ordered to close the doors of the churches.

The Leiden militia prepared to guard the churches. Despite these precautions, the iconoclasts fought there way in on the night of August 25-26th  at the O.L.–Vrouwekerk. Later that day the Pieterskerk was also victim to the crowd. Altars were violated and the marble statues of the twelve apostles of the pillars of the choir were destroyed. But the door of the sacristy of was not broken into.

During the iconoclasm, the inventory of hundreds of Catholic churches, chapels, abbeys and monasteries destroyed or looted. Altars, images, fonts, reliquaries, choir stalls, pulpits, organs, chalices, paintings, church vestments and books were destroyed. Even the plaster on the inside was sometimes destroyed by angry mobs.

The altarpiece by Lucas van Leyden and Leiden Choir books were saved.