Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (1466-1536), known as
Erasmus or Erasmus of Rotterdam,[note 1] was a Dutch Renaissance humanist,
Catholic priest, social critic, teacher, and theologian.
Erasmus was a
classical scholar and wrote in a pure Latin style. Among humanists he
enjoyed the sobriquet "Prince of the Humanists", and has been
called "the crowning glory of the Christian humanists". Using
humanist techniques for working on texts, he prepared important new Latin
and Greek editions of the New Testament, which raised questions that would
be influential in the Protestant Reformation and Catholic
Counter-Reformation. He also wrote On Free Will,
The Praise of Folly, Handbook of a Christian Knight, On Civility in
Children, Copia: Foundations of the Abundant
Style, Julius Exclusus, and many other works.
against the backdrop of the growing European religious Reformation, but
while he was critical of the abuses within the Catholic Church and called
for reform, he kept his distance from Luther and Melanchthon and continued
to recognise the authority of the pope,
emphasizing a middle way with a deep respect for traditional faith, piety
and grace, rejecting Luther's emphasis on faith alone. Erasmus remained a
member of the Roman Catholic Church all his life,
remaining committed to reforming the Church and its clerics' abuses from
within. He also held to the Catholic doctrine of free will, which some
Reformers rejected in favor of the doctrine of predestination. His middle
road ("Via Media") approach disappointed and even angered
scholars in both camps.
suddenly in Basel in 1536 while preparing to return to Brabant, and was
buried in Basel Minster, the former cathedral of the city.
A bronze statue of him was erected in his city of birth in 1622, replacing
an earlier work in stone.
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