Poet, scholar, philologist, philosopher, theologian and Dutch humanist, born in Rotterdam on 27 or 28 October 1469 (or 1466, according to some of his numerous biographers) and died July 12, 1536 in Basel (Switzerland). Although his real name was that of Gert Geertsz, it is universally known by the Latin pseudonym adopted, Desiderius Erasmus Roteradamus, Spanish in Spain from the 16th century as "Erasmus of Rotterdam". Prolific and versatile, scholar attended in their bright printed production the most diverse of humanistic knowledge matters (from politics to religion, education, literature and Hellenistic and Latin studies), and played a key role in all the intellectual currents and spiritual of his time, until the end of going down in history as one of the great paradigms of the reforming spirit of the European Renaissance man. Your contribution more bold, original and dazzling - and, no doubt, which generated more accessions and rejections among the intelligentsia of his time – was its proposal for a reform of the Church, based on examples provided by the early Christians, as well as in human behavior models offered by some of the most outstanding of Greco-Roman classical antiquity figures of modesty and humility.
The uncertainties and inaccuracies surrounding your birth date were fed by the own Dutch humanist, who was never interested in uncovering the mysteries that wrapped its dark arrival to the world. Was born, in fact, fruit of the sacrilegious love between a priest and a young bourgeois, and, although mature accepted a romantic of this relationship view (according to which, his father was forced by their families to March to Rome after leaving a young woman pregnant, and received the false news of the death of the girl in the eternal city(, by what was ordered priest), it is true that subsequent scholarship has shown that the father of Erasmo had already received priestly orders when he/she fathered him.
In 1474, when he/she was five years old, he/she began to attend the elementary school from Gouda in the company of his brother Pedro, and a year later joined the school of the brethren of the common life, in Deventer, run by Augustinian Friars. There he/she received the first rudiments of latin, and began to show signs of a strong humanistic vocation, fed by some teachers of Agricultural Rodolfhus (1444-1485), author of several treaties so celebrated in his time as De inventione dialectic. Between 1477 and 1478 he/she lived for several months in Utrecht, in whose Cathedral was a member of the choir.
The death of his mother, struck in 1484, precipitated her abandonment of the school of Deventer and his immediate return, in the company of his brother, to Gouda, where the education of both boys was in the hands of three religious preceptors who directed his steps towards the monastic life. A year later, the future humanist moved to school of Bois-le-Duc, in which remained for a short period of time, since the fast spread of an epidemic of plague advised returning to Gouda, city in which fell seriously ill, suffering from high and frequent bouts of fever. In the course of that year of 1485, his brother Pedro joined the convent of Sion (near Delft), belonging to the order of the canons regular of san Agustín.
Replacement of his ailments, he/she continued to study hard and preparing for the religious life, and in 1487 joined the convent of the Augustinians of Steyn, where he/she made his first vows the following year. From that time dates his first work, a spiritual treatise titled praise of monastic life (1488), leaving patent his sincere religious vocation. Then, dragged by his irrepressible literary passion, he/she read and studied the works of major classical Latin - with relish as Terence (ca. 190-ca. 159 BC), Cicero (106 BC-43 BC), Virgil (70-19 BC), Horacio (66-8 BC), Ovid (43 BC-18 ad), Quintilian (ca. 35-ca. 100), martial (ca. 40-ca. 104), Juvenal (50-140), etc., as well as other contemporary texts that aroused his admiration, as the Elegantiae linguae latinae (1444) of the Roman humanist Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457). These fruitful readings encouraged him compose many poems in latin, a language that, in those years, already mastered to perfection.
In 1492 ultimately received priestly orders from the hands of David of Burgundy, Bishop of Utrecht, and a year later entered the service of Enrique de Bergen, Bishop of Cambrai. Always delivered to the dedicated study in 1493 he/she concluded Antibarbari, a brilliant apology of profane letters which had begun to write during their monastic seclusion with the Augustinians of Steyn; and after two years settled in Paris, at the College of Montaigu, to pursue higher studies in theology at the Sorbonne University, where he/she specialized in the analysis of the biblical texts. He/She made friends, in the gala capital, with the writer, theologian and Trinitarian religious Robert Gauguin (1440-1501 or 1502), one of the visible heads of the French intelligentsia of the time, under whose protection was accepted into the main forums and cenacles humanists of Paris; and so came the friendship and complicity among both scholars, that Gauguin included in his celebrated work De Origine e Gestis Francorum Compendium (1495) an extensive eulogy written by Erasmus, who, by then, had already left clear well in his writings his aversion to scholastic.
In 1496 was revealed also an interest in pedagogy, as a result of the particular lessons that began to be taught to earn a living in Paris, after a brief period of rest in Cambrai, recovering from another serious medical condition. He/She combined at the time this dedication to teaching with her innate literary vocation, embodied in the Latin poems of a book which gave to the press that same year; but in the spring of that year, plagued by another serious illness, he/she interrupted this work in Paris and sought rest in Bergen, next to the Bishop who had been one of their first protectors. After replacement of this evil, it undertook a brief tour through Dutch until arriving once again in the gala capital, where engaged in relations with other intellectuals - as the Latin poet Faustus Andrelinus (ca. 1440-1519) - and sought diligently under cover of some patrons who could continue to finance its numerous literary and philosophical projects. Dam of a febrile creative activity, then wrote for Northoff family their Familiarium Colloquiorum Formulae (1496) - sketch of what later would become his famous Colloquia (colloquia)-, it undertook the drafting of Geonic Sokoloff (1496) - an essay on the technique of writing letters in Latin language-, concluded an enlightening paraphrase of the already mentioned Elegantiae of Lorenzo Valla, and expanded in other lectures of various kinds, such as copy Verborum ac rerum (1496) - a manual of latin to increase wealth lexical students - and Ratione studii (1496) - a pedagogical guide on the Organization of studies.
In 1498, Erasmo de Rotterdam returned to Holland by the Bishop his protector, but soon añoró the intensity of the Parisian cultural life, and returned back to the French capital, where continued giving private lessons to several students of high social rank, which included English William Blount, best known for his aristocratic title of lord Mountjoy. The following year visited in Tournehem (located between Calais and Saint Omer) Castle to his friend Battus, who had been hired by Ana van Borselen (Lady of Veere and owner of Heirship) so that educated his son; always needed a patron - their economic situation was very unstable in a large city like Paris, sought the help of the Lady, who immediately became his new protector. Shortly thereafter, he/she traveled to London accompanied by lord Mountjoy and had the opportunity to meet several leading figures of contemporary English culture, such as the philosopher and politician Thomas more (1478-1535) and the theologian John Colet (1466-1519), which summoned immediately thanks to their like-minded with regard to abuses by the clergy. In the autumn of that year of 1499 went to Oxford to stay at St. Mary's College, where, as a result of religious discussions with the above-named, thought about the concerns, fears and sadness of the Nazarene, and wrote a brief controversy on the subject, entitled Disputatincula of tedium, pavore tristitia Jesu (1499).
At the beginning of the following year, Erasmo de Rotterdam was again in Paris, city in which it gave to press their Adagiorum collectanea (1500), a collection of about eight hundred maxims proverbial glanées among the works of the great Latin Classics, and commented to the benefit of those who want to use them with the intention of improving its literary expression in the language of Cicero. Its pressing lack of monetary resources - pointed to rates that had to pay customs on his return from England, where barely had managed to save twenty pounds that were left, almost entirely, in power of the voracious British customs officers--impelled you to write and publish this piece, which made a modest profit that allowed him to survive for a while with urgency. Then invited by the humanist Agustín Caminade, moved to the village that it lived in Orleans, where he/she spent most of the year 1500. On his return to Paris, a deadly plague epidemic forced him to leave hurriedly the Seine city to take refuge in Holland, where he/she lived - on - in Steyn, Haarlem and Tournehem Castle, next to his friend Battus. But sudden disappearance, struck in 1502, prompted him to leave the residence of Ana of Veere moved first to Saint-Omer (where made friends with the Franciscan theologian Jean Vitrier, which had been sanctioned by the Sorbonne due to claims of relaxation in the monastic life) and, shortly after, Louvain, city in which settled in search of some immediate relief. Far from it, the death of his protector, Henry of Bergen and the withdrawal of sponsorship with that came intermittently, help you Veere Ana caused the deepening of their economic hardship, yet refused to accept the Chair that offered you, fruit of his personal efforts, Adriano de Utrecht (1459-1523), years later elevated to the solio pontificio under the name of Adriano VI.
His intellectual prestige increased significantly following the emergence in Antwerp his work entitled the Enchiridion militis christiani (1504), a sort of spiritual guide to guide the Christian soldier towards their salvation. Dump, from then on, to study in depth of the Gospels - largely, after having read the annotations of the doubly aforementioned Lorenzo Valla-, he/she traveled back to England in 1505 and related there with some prominent Princes of the Church as Richard Foxe (Bishop of Winchester), John Fisher (who was, at the time, the episcopal see of Rochester) and William Warham (Archbishop of Canterbury). Again, then, to visit his friend Tomás Moro and worked with him in the translation from the Greek into latin of the dialogues of Lucian of Samosata (ca. 120-180), occupation that allowed him to make friends with a protégé of the future Saint, the Italian poet Andreas Ammonius of Lucca (1477-1517).
Its always unstable economic situation began to improve in January 1506, when Pope Julius II (1443-1513) allowed him to accept an English ecclesiastic benefit. The prestige enjoyed by already as humanist Giovanni Battista Boerio, the King's personal doctor advised Henry VII (1457-1509) hire Erasmo de Rotterdam as tutor of his children, by what this moved to perform this job until Turin, city in whose University obtained the title of doctor in theology in September of that year of 1506. Continued, meanwhile, combining their studies and their teaching assignments with his indefatigable literary activity, and gave print in a short period of time their translations of Euripides (485-406 B.c.) and Luciano of Samosata, his work Epigrammata (1506), a new edition of the Adagia - work in whose enlargement continued to work for a long time- and his famous poem Carmen Alpine.
Without sparing efforts, during his stay in Italy, Erasmus of Rotterdam he/she continued to expand his knowledge of Greek and began studying Hebrew and Aramaic. His fame reached the ears of the prestigious Venetian printer Aldo Manuzio the elder (1449-1515), who made him go to Venice to publish there his Adagia (1508) and its translations of various texts of Plato (427-327 B.c.), Terence (ca. 190-ca. 159 BC) and Seneca (4 BC-65 ad). In the course of that same year from 1508, the Dutch Humanist accepted the position of private tutor of the son of the Scottish King James IV (1473-1513), Alejandro Estuardo, who, student then in Padua, was already, despite his young age, Archbishop of St. Andrews.
Armed conflicts in the North of Italy was advised, in 1509, leave such lands to go directly to Rome, received him as a renowned scholar who was whose intellectual class. After having had the opportunity to meet with the Florentine Médicis Juan (1475-1521) - the future Pope León - X, returned to London and settled in the house inhabited by Tomás Moro at Blucklersbury, where, over a couple of years, he/she wrote one of the works of universal thought, Moriae Encomium seu laus stultitiae (in praise of folly, 1511). The year following the appearance of this masterpiece of your bibliography, was elevated to the dignity of rector of Aldington (in the County of Kent) by the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham, charge that not prevented him from further develop a fertile humanistic work that threw for fruit, a year later, Julius exclusus e Coeli fable (1513), a plea against war written after the recent death of the Pope Julio IIwhose warlike ardor had characterized throughout his pontificate.
Working, at the same time, hard in their research on the work of St. Jerome and the New Testament, as well as a new adagio, Dulce bellum inexpertis, which added to the edition made by Froben in 1515. This printer brought to light, the following year, St. Jerome (1516) and Novum Instrumentum (1516), a - latter - bilingual edition of the New Testament which disclosed the fame of Erasmus by every corner of Christianity. Shortly after, the Spanish politician of Burgundian origin Jean Sauvage (do - 1518), become his new guard, got the title of Adviser of a young man of sixteen years of age that soon would be known around the world as the Emperor Carlos I of Spain and V of Germany V (1500-1558). And, in the midst of the turmoil, not ceased writing and travel: after having completed the drafting of Institutio principis christiani (1516), again visited the Netherlands to stay for some time in house scholar and French naturalist Pierre Gilles (1490-1555), from where it departed to go again to England.
To solve the problems of Erasmo de Rotterdam with the high authorities of the Church began in 1517. Pope León X forgave him the violations that had been committed against the ecclesiastical law, exempted him from the obligation to wear the habit of his order, authorized him to continue leading a secular life and allowed him to, nevertheless, retain the ecclesiastical benefits; but the provision of the most favourable to the Dutch Humanist Pope was the cancellation of all the impediments that fell upon him by its obscure origins. During the summer of that year, Erasmo returned to settle in Leuven, where he/she celebrated his controversial sustained against the Parisian theologian - forerunner of the Reformation - Jacques Lefèvre d' Étaples (or Jacobus Faber Stapulensis), with regard to the comments about the Epistles of St. Paul (Epistle to the Hebrews, 2, 7). Claimed, at the time, in the main academic forums around the world, he/she was commissioned to write, by desire to express of Alberto of Brandenburg, Archbishop of Mainz, a series of hagiographies that Erasmus refused to write, on the grounds that had already tried, "harm than good, shed light on the Prince of Saints in person" (that is, on Christ), and that "no to the Church to tolerate anything other than completely pure and Immaculate" (in direct allusion to murky episodes starring some people then elevated by the Church to holiness in life).
Held in that same period of time (1518), a bitter polemic with the young Englishman Edward Lee, student of Greek in Leuven, whom the Dutch Humanist ridiculed across Europe since his brash opponent had summarized in ten conclusions a series of critical objections, contrary to his review of the New Testament. At the end of the summer of that year, he/she traveled to Basel, where he/she contracted a serious illness that forced him to return to Leuven and installed in the printer Thierry Maertens House; but not lost for this reason their momenta debaters and polemicists, which came out back in 1519, when it intervened in the disputes over the creation of the College Trilingue and returned to attack the punctilious Lee. On March 28 of that year, the own Lutero (1483-1546) - who had issued his ninety-five theses schismatic October 31, 1517, in the doors of the Church of the castle of Wittenberg - addressed, through letters, Erasmus hoping to win the favor of spiritual ("so and so renowned intellectual master for your cause(", Erasmo mio, gentle man, recognize if looks like this little brother in Jesus Christ, who admires you and loves you really well and which, moreover, not deserves anything else because of their ignorance be buried anonymously in any corner"); but the personal response of Erasmus, dated two months later (May 30, 1518), did not leave room for doubt about the positions of the Dutch humanist, completely contrary to the Lutheran reformation: "I have declared that I are completely unknown, that I have not read yet your books and, therefore, was not agree or disagree with anything" [...]. "I reserve me completely, if possible, to be useful to Renaissance Studies. It seems to me that a polite modesty is more effective than the impetuousness. This is how Christ conquered the world". In that rarefied atmosphere Erasmo wrapping to Christianity, in the summer of that year was forced to send a letter to Pope León X to request to protect you against numerous enemies attacking you from the bosom of the Church; Despite this claim of amparo, his rivals continued to grow, and a couple of months later, used against a letter sent by the Dutch scholar to Alberto of Mainz.
In 1520, year in which held another strong controversy with Nicolás of Egmond, showered much criticism against the thinking of Erasmus, who on November 5 he/she met in Cologne elector Federico III of Saxony (1463-1525), to discuss the tenets of Luther. Fruit of this interview was the text of Erasmus entitled 22 axioms for the cause of Martín Luther, that was published against their will by the supporters of the reform, which precipitated the final rupture between the Dutch Humanist and the German theologian. A year later, before the fierce harassment of Nicolás of Egmond and Vicent Dick van Haarlem, Erasmo was forced to abandon Leuven to settle in Basel, where he/she returned to fall seriously ill.
He continued, however, intensely, writing and 1522 during the hollanders gave their San Arnobo, a third edition of the New Testament and a reissue of his Colloquia; Meanwhile, working on the drafting of a Treaty entitled Interdictu esu carnium, as well as in the biography of Saint-Hilaire, which was released the following year. Also in 1523 he/she held a lit controversy, this time with the German writer Ulrich von Hutten (1488-1523), who died a few months later. In 1524, after the departure to a new edition of its San Jerónimo Street, he/she wrote De Libero arbitrio diatribe, in which attacked the Protestant Reformation and taught with Luther.
While he/she was already old and ailing, Erasmo de Rotterdam back away not from any intellectual commitment, as he/she led him to a new controversy in 1525, this time against Alberto Pio, Prince of Capri. A year later came the imprint his hagiography San Ireneo (1526) and its definitive edition of the Colloquia, published under the title of Familiorum Colloquiorum Opus (1526), as well as his treatise Hyperaspistes (1526). The following year, after he/she published a new biography under the title of Saint Ambrose (1527), he/she decided to make Testament with the ultimate goal of detailing numerous instructions to the edition of his complete works was prepared in the press of Froben (whose owner and founder died, by the way, that same year). In 1528, year in which appeared his dialogue Ciceronianus, decanting of Basel on behalf of the Lutheran reform forced Erasmus moved to Freiburg, city in which settled the 13 April 1529.
Little by little, the event political, cultural and religious who were rapidly on the continent began to overcome its hitherto briosa reaction ability. After the war between the Catholics and evangelicals cantons in Switzerland, and the arrival of the Turks to the very gates of Vienna (1529), he/she wrote Consultatio de bello turcino (1529), and began to prepare a great work that sought to leave as a legacy form your moral and theological ideas; It's Ecclesiastes (1533), a treatise on preaching, which came to underline the huge valuation that had always given sermons, who was considered as the most appropriate vehicle for the dissemination of the ideas of theologians.
After this kind of theological, philological and literary legacy, still had forces to return to Basel intending to continue working in the printing press of Froben, and to write a final Treaty, published under the title of of the purity of the Christian Church (1535). At the beginning of 1536 he/she was seriously ill, so in February issued their last wills. Come July, his health had deteriorated so much that it had to renounce, even reading. The twelve day of said month, friends that surrounded his bed dying heard you exclaim: "or Jesu, mercy! Domine, libera me! Domine miserere mei!" ("O Jesus, mercy! Lord, save me! Lord, take pity on me!"); He/She then was entrusted to God in their mother tongue Dutch, and finally abandoned this world.
It is impossible to address, in a brief bio-literature review like this, all the vast and varied print production of Erasmo de Rotterdam, whose work contributed capital in the main humanistic materials innovations (and, very prominently, in the fields of religion, philology, and philosophy). It is necessary, therefore to reduce the analysis of his texts to a brief plot overview that higher incidence were among writers and religious intellectuals of his time, beginning with the Enchiridion militis christiani (1502), work that, in the words of historian and essayist Dutch Johan Huizinga (1872-1945) - vid., infra, "Bibliography" - "is a manual aimed to raise up a worthy Christian conscience in ignorant soldier showing you the finger", so to speak, the shortest path that leads to Christ". With the publication of this book, Erasmus became the head of that renewing power of the Church, which denouncing abuses and the relaxation of the clergy, and advocated the supremacy of certain civic values like tolerance and maintenance, at all costs, of peace.
The publication of the Adagia, started by Aldo Manuzio in Venice in 1507, ranked the Dutch Humanist Renaissance intellectuals head stuck in rescue the legacy of the great Greek and Latin classical authors and put it to the extent not already prominent scholars of the time, but of the average European reader. According to the newly mentioned Huizinga, such enthusiasm awoke in Erasmus Aldo Manuzio invitation that, "amid the noise of printing [...], sitting, he/she wrote, to the surprise of his editor, most of the time in memory, and so self-absorbed, that it had no time - according to very expressively - said no to scratching ears. He/She was master of the printing press. A particular spell was put at their disposal; until the last test made corrections in the text".
Moriae Encomium seu laus stultitiae (in praise of folly, 1511), the masterpiece of Erasmo de Rotterdam, is a friendly and witty satire in which occurs the madness as the real engine that drives the world, the essential element for the functioning of society and, ultimately, the conservation of life. This dementia suffering the world, hungry for material and ephemeral goods, Erasmo contrasts this infinitely superior madness that is, for him, the Christian faith, an insanity that is able to push man in so sweet nonsense as give away their property and forgive their enemies. In the wake of this argument, madness in person become the authorized carriers of some of the key ideas in thinking of Erasmus, and censures the same vices and defects against which came fighting had already long humanist of Rotterdam, such as the existence of indulgences, foolish faith accept without questioning anything the most amazing miracles, the cult of interested to the Saints, etc.
Institutio principis christiani (1516) is presented as a sort of manual on the art of governing style of Il principe (the Prince, 1513) of Machiavelli (1469-1527); but, unlike the Italian humanist, Erasmus proposes here that Christian morality to impose on mere political interests. On the other hand, his Edition in Greek of the New Testament, accompanied by a latin translation, caused a colossal scandal among the theologians of the early 16th century, as it removed - in this version Latin - some verses consecrated repeatedly by tradition, but absent in the manuscripts collated by Erasmus. Currently - and from a point of view strictly philological - this work of Erasmo de Rotterdam (which was, perhaps, the most renowned awarded him in life) lacks validity; However, the critical and scientific attitude of the Dutch Humanist had the enormous importance of open trails that then it transited, with greater success, the modern New Testament criticism; and showed that fixed by the Vulgate text-i.e. by the Latin translation of the Bible made mostly by St. Jerome (347-420) at the end of the fourth century - was not entirely reliable.
The philological Edition of the Epistles of St. Jerome (1516-1520) and paraphrases (1524) - an afortunadisimo the New Testament approach to popular culture - are two other works that highlight the linguistic work of Erasmus and his desire to shed new light on the capital texts of Christianity, always with the aim of disseminating his preaching about peace and tolerance. Furthermore, De libero arbitrio (1524) showed unequivocally - and once and for all - the estrangement of Erasmus with respect to the proposal of Luther, in a moment in which the cause of Protestantism adopted radical and iconoclastic positions to its around (has already been mentioned, above, the conversion of Basel to the Lutheran dogma). The emergence, finally, of the final version of the Colloquia - published under the title of Familiorum Colloquiorum Opus (1526) - showed unquestionable Erasmo de Rotterdam positioning against medieval Scholasticism and the intellectual and moral abuses committed by the monastic clergy.
It is worth mentioning, finally, the extraordinary testimonial value of the epistolary of the humanist Dutch, composed of more than 3,000 letters, many of them aimed at the key figures of the letters, thought, politics and religion of his time. Aside from show of Erasmus inordinate interest in pedagogy (was ahead of its time to consider that any attempt at reform was splitting, Perforce, a proper education), these Epistles are vivid proof of the vigorous literary style of its author, its culture, and clear-sightedness, as well as its perfect knowledge of the political, historical circumstancessocial and cultural surrounding him.
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AVILES, Miguel de. Erasmus and the Inquisition: the libel of Valladolid and the advocacy of Erasmus against Spanish friars (Madrid: Fundación Universitaria Española, 1980).
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