Prince of the Humanists
Bornc. 28 October 1466
Died12 July 1536(1536-07-12) (aged 69)
Other namesDesiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, Erasmus of Rotterdam
Academic background
Alma materQueens' College, Cambridge
Collège de Montaigu, Paris
University of Turin
Academic work
EraRenaissance philosophy
School or traditionChristian humanism
InstitutionsUniversity of Leuven
Main interestsChristian philosophy
Renaissance humanism
Criticism of Protestantism
Philosophy of Language[2]
Notable works
Notable ideas
Ecclesiastical career

Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (s/; 28 October 1466[3][4] – 12 July 1536), known as Erasmus or Erasmus of Rotterdam,[note 1] was a Dutch philosopher and Christian humanist who is widely considered to have been the greatest scholar of the northern Renaissance.[5] Originally trained as a Catholic priest, Erasmus was an important figure in classical scholarship who 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".[6] 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,[7] In Praise of Folly, Handbook of a Christian Knight, On Civility in Children, Copia: Foundations of the Abundant Style, Julius Exclusus, and many other works.

Erasmus lived against the backdrop of the growing European religious Reformation. While he was critical of the abuses within the Catholic Church and called for reform, he nonetheless kept his distance from Luther, Henry VIII, and John Calvin and continued to recognise the authority of the pope, emphasizing a middle way with a deep respect for traditional faith, piety and grace, and rejecting Luther's emphasis on faith alone. Erasmus remained a member of the Catholic Church all his life,[8] remaining committed to reforming the church and its clerics' abuses from within. He also held to the doctrine of synergism, which some Reformers (Calvinists) rejected in favor of the doctrine of monergism. His middle road ("via media") approach disappointed, and even angered, scholars in both camps.

Erasmus died suddenly in Basel in 1536 while preparing to return to Brabant and was buried in Basel Minster, the former cathedral of the city.[9] A bronze statue of Erasmus was erected in 1622 in his city of birth, replacing an earlier work in stone.

Early life

Bust by Hildo Krop (1950) at Gouda, where Erasmus spent his youth

Desiderius Erasmus is reported to have been born in Rotterdam on 28 October in the late 1460s.[3][10] He was named after Saint Erasmus of Formiae, whom Erasmus's father Gerard personally favored.[11] A 17th-century legend has it that Erasmus was first named Geert Geerts (also Gerhard Gerhards or Gerrit Gerritsz),[12] but this is unfounded.[13] A well-known wooden picture indicates: Goudæ conceptus, Roterodami natus (Latin for Conceived in Gouda, born in Rotterdam). According to an article by historian Renier Snooy (1478–1537), Erasmus was born in Gouda.

The exact year of his birth is controversial but most agree it was in 1466.[14] Evidence confirming the year of Erasmus' birth in 1466 can be found in his own words: fifteen out of twenty-three statements he made about his age indicate 1466.[15] He was christened "Erasmus" after the saint of that name.[16] Although associated closely with Rotterdam, he lived there for only four years, never to return. Information on his family and early life comes mainly from vague references in his writings. His parents were not legally married. His father, Gerard, was a Catholic priest and curate in Gouda.[17] Little is known of his mother, although her known name was Margaretha Rogerius (Latinized form of Dutch surname Rutgers)[18] and she was the daughter of a doctor from Zevenbergen. She may have been Gerard's housekeeper.[14][17][19] Although he was born out of wedlock, Erasmus was cared for by his parents until their early deaths from the plague in 1483. This solidified his view of his origin as a stain and cast a pall over his youth.[17]

Erasmus was given the highest education available to a young man of his day, in a series of monastic or semi-monastic schools. At the age of nine, he and his older brother Peter were sent to one of the best Latin schools in the Netherlands, located at Deventer and owned by the chapter clergy of the Lebuïnuskerk (St Lebuin's Church),[14] though some earlier biographies assert it was a school run by the Brethren of the Common Life.[14] During his stay there the curriculum was renewed by the principal of the school, Alexander Hegius. For the first time ever Greek was taught at a lower level than a university in Europe,[dubious ] and this is where he began learning it.[20] He also gleaned there the importance of a personal relationship with God but eschewed the harsh rules and strict methods of the religious brothers and educators. His education there ended when plague struck the city about 1483, and his mother, who had moved to provide a home for her sons, died from the infection.[14]

Other Languages
العربية: إيراسموس
azərbaycanca: Desiderius Erasmus
беларуская: Эразм Ратэрдамскі
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Эразм Ратэрдамскі
Ελληνικά: Έρασμος
français: Érasme
Bahasa Indonesia: Desiderius Erasmus
interlingua: Desiderio Erasmo
Lëtzebuergesch: Erasmus vu Rotterdam
Lingua Franca Nova: Erasmo
Bahasa Melayu: Desiderius Erasmus
မြန်မာဘာသာ: အီရက်ဇမတ်၊ ဒီ
Nederlands: Desiderius Erasmus
norsk: Erasmus
norsk nynorsk: Erasmus frå Rotterdam
occitan: Erasme
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Erazm rotterdamlik
Piemontèis: Erasm da Rotterdam
Scots: Erasmus
Simple English: Erasmus
slovenščina: Erazem Rotterdamski
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Erazmo Roterdamski
தமிழ்: எராஸ்மஸ்
Tiếng Việt: Desiderius Erasmus
粵語: 伊拉斯謨