Desiderius Erasmus

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Desiderius Erasmus

Desiderius Erasmus was born in Holland on October 27th in the late 1460's with the name Gerard Gerards. whilst most biographers say he was born in 1467, there are many statements he made himself indicating that he was born in 1466, with only one statement he made indicating otherwise. he was given the name Erasmus at his baptism, after the saint Erasmus of formia. the name also means beloved. the name Desiderius is an additional name he adopted himself in 1496. his parents weren’t legally married , and his father was a catholic priests, but Erasmus was still cared for by his parents,. he was given the best education that was possible for a child in his time. Receiving education at one of the best Latin schools in the Netherlands. in Deventer, until the city was struck by the plague in 1483, killing both his parents.


In 1495, Desiderius went on to study at the University of Paris, in the Collège de Montaigu. The University was then the chief seat of Scholastic learning, but already coming under the influence of Renaissance humanism. In 1499, Erasmus was particularly impressed by the Bible teaching of John Colet who pursued a style more of a similar character to the church fathers than the Scholastics. This prompted him to master the Greek language when he returned from England, this would enable him to study theology on a more profound level. The chief centres of Erasmus's activity were Paris, Leuven, England and Basel, but he didn’t belong in any of these places. At the University of Cambridge, he was the Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity and had the option of spending the rest of his life as an English professor. He stayed at Queens' College, Cambridge for 5 years from 1510 to 1515. Erasmus preferred to live the life of an independent scholar and made a conscious effort to avoid any actions or formal ties that might inhibit his freedom of intellect and literary expression. Throughout his life, he was offered many positions of honour and profit throughout the academic world but declined them all, preferring the uncertain but sufficient rewards of independent literary activity. In the 3 years he was in Italy he graduated as Doctor of Divinity at the Turin University, and he spent part of the time as a proof reader at the publishing house of Aldus Manutius in Venice. According to his letters, he was associated with the Venetian natural philosopher, Giulio Camillo, but, apart from this, he had a less active association with Italian scholars than might have been expected. His residence at Leuven is where he lectured at the Catholic University.


When he decided to accept an invitation by Queen Mary of Hungary, Regent of the Netherlands, to move from Freiburg to Brabant. However, during preparations for the move in 1536, he suddenly died from an attack of dysentery, which is infectious diarrhea (I'm not going in to detail about that) during a visit to last words, as recorded by his friend Beatus Rhenanus, were apparently "lieve God" (Dutch: Dear God). A bronze statue of him was erected in the city of his birth in 1622, replacing an earlier work in stone.

Desiderius Erasmus

Early Life

About Him

Desiderius Erasmus

Desiderius Erasmus was born in the Netherlands on the 27th October 1466 He died in Death Basel, Switzerland on the July 12th 1536 in He was a Dutch Theologian and Philosopher.Theology is the study of concepts of god and the nature of religious truths.Eramus' Parents Died in 1483 when he was just 17.He suffered from Gallstones. Gallstones are hard, pebble-like deposits that form inside the gallbladder. A small, hard crystalline mass formed abnormally in the gallbladder or bile ducts from bile pigments, cholesterol, and calcium salts. Gallstones can cause severe pain and blockage of the bile duct. Gallstones may be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball.A biography of him was written by Stefan Zueig in 1934

Cast of a skull presumed to have been that of Erasmus at the Rotterdam library Erasmus collection


Erasmus treasures rottermham libaray. it has a large collection of books published before 1800 although they are not directly related to Erasmus thses special collections together form an essentials component of the Netherlands' heritage


Mentors and Inspiration

He was influenced by Epicureanism, Cicero, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, John Colet, Alexander Hegius, Jan Standonck

When the renaissance spread Desiderius Erasmus became the greatest renaissance scholar in northern Europe. He published studies of the old and new testaments to give scholars a better understanding of the bible.



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