The bombardment of Brussels by French troops of King Louis XIV on August 13, 14 and 15, 1695 and the resulting fire were together the most destructive event in the entire history of Brussels. The Grand Place was destroyed, along with a third of the buildings in the city. The reconstruction of the city centre, effected during subsequent years, profoundly changed the appearance of the city and left numerous traces still visible today.
The bombardment was part of the Nine Years’ War. The French forces hoped that by bombarding, or threatening to bombard Brussels, they would be able to divert Allied troops from the Siege of Namur. The strategy was unsuccessful, and no military gain came of the bombardment, although King Louis XIV of France’s reputation suffered for such a barbarous act.
Image: A contemporary map and illustration of the 1695 bombardment of Brussels and the subsequent fire.