Erasmus of Rotterdam


Erasmus of Rotterdam
(c. 1469–1536)
   Humanist and scholar. Desiderius Erasmus was the illegitimate son of a priest. He was educated in schools at Gouda, Deventer, and ’s Hertogen bosch, where he lived with the Brethren of the Common Life founded by Geert Groote. Erasmus became a priest himself and served the bishop of Cambrai (now in France). He studied theology and letters at the University of Paris. During a voyage in England, he met Chancellor Thomas More (1478–1535) and the learned John Colet (1466–1519), who became his lifelong friends. Erasmus advo cated a rational, humanistic, nondogmatic kind of Christendom. In the controversies around Martin Luther and other “reformers,” Eras mus pleaded for peaceful solutions and for toleration. Of his many theological and educational writings, The Praise of Folly and the Colloquia familiaria have won world fame. Erasmus has influenced not only scholarly study of the ancient classical and holy texts but also the views of pacifist movements in the Netherlands, expressed, for instance, by Dirck Coornhert.

Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands. . 2012.

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