Erasmus, Desiderius

(c. 1469–1536)
   Theologian.
   Erasmus was the illegitimate son of the Dutch priest Rogerius Gerardus. In 1486 he joined an order of Augustinian Canons at Steyn, near Gouda, and in 1492 he was ordained as a priest. He became secretary to the Bishop of Cambrai and left his monastery. He studied in Paris and then travelled to England with his pupil, Lord Mountjoy, who was to become his patron. In England he mixed with the leading scholars of the day and, after further travels in France and a second visit to England, he settled for a time in Italy. Then, in 1509, encouraged by Mountjoy, he returned to England where he stayed with Sir Thomas more and may have succeeded John fisher to the Lady Margaret Chair of Divinity. In 1516 he returned to Europe where he became a councillor of the Emperor Charles v, but he eventually settled in Basle. He was a prolific writer. His Praise of Folly and Colloquies, satirising the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church, went through many editions. He was also responsible for splendid texts of the works of the early Church Fathers and a Greek New Testament based on early manuscripts. He entered into controversy with Martin luther on the question of free will and his Enchiridion Militis Christiani was a defence of scholarship in Christian education.
   He was the most famous scholar of his day, but has been judged variously by historians. He never left the Catholic Church and this has been interpreted by some as weakness; others view him as a forerunner of the enlightened scholars of the eighteenth century. In any event his profound intelligence is revealed not only in his writings, but in the famous portrait by Holbein. He himself believed that scholarly investigation would uncover the truth of Christianity and he once declared ‘I would to God that the ploughman would sing texts of the Scripture at his plough and that the weaver would hum them to the tune of his shuttle’.
   A.G. Dickens, Erasmus the Reformer (1994), M. M. Phillips, Erasmus and the Northern Renaissance, revised edition (1981);
   R.J. Schoeck, Erasmus of Europe: The Prince of Humanists (1993).

Who’s Who in Christianity . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Erasmus,Desiderius — E·ras·mus (ĭ răzʹməs), Desiderius. 1466? 1536. Dutch Renaissance scholar and Roman Catholic theologian who sought to revive classical texts from antiquity, restore simple Christian faith based on Scripture, and eradicate the improprieties of the… …   Universalium

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