In the picture “Beating babies” nothing reminiscent of evangelical history. The action takes place in the well-known Brueghel Flemish village, which was attacked by soldiers of the Duke of Alba. The people on the canvas are represented by a defenseless, faceless mass, unable to resist the armed peaks of foreign soldiers.
Everywhere on all plans we see the most terrible thing that can happen – armed people break into the houses of residents and take away the babies. Someone is conferring, someone is peeking into the doorway. Someone has already been taken away by the warrior.
But the knight stands and quietly urinates on the wall of the house – for him the killing of innocent children is nothing special, a daily routine. Grief in the eyes of parents, but no one interferes. Mother tries to escape, but behind it rushes with a dog and a warrior with a sword are racing. But a woman is grieving over a dead child.
Here is a very controversial scene, but for some reason it seems to me that in the posture of an older child begging for a glance at his father and his index gesture, he suggests exchanging a baby boy for her, but the warrior does not give in to persuasion – they only need boys, and the mother does not understand why? Friends keep the father, heartbroken, from fighting with the warrior.
The villager asks the rider to come back from the hunt, to stand up for the common people, but he does nothing. Near the house, a man tells a woman with a baby that it is now possible to escape, since there is no warrior on the street – he just just entered the house. In the center we see a place. where children are brought and where the knights stab them with spears.
Behind all this is a man with a long beard, dressed in completely black clothes – Herod. He is surrounded by knights-spearmen. Here, too, one important thing is important: pay attention to the flag. This is the crest of the Crusaders, the cross of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher.. This man is very similar to Albu, King Philip II, whom Bruegel compares with Herod.
Brueghel has two variants of the picture: one with terrible scenes of killing babies by Spaniards, the second with robbery in villages where babies are replaced by domestic birds. But no matter how the artist tried to disguise, in order to please the customer, bloody scenes of murders, from under the domestic birds are visible handles of the killed.