<< Previous | 3 of 7 | Next >>

Regular Columns

The egg-laying of Erasmus

‘The name of Erasmus will never perish’.

History Professor Michael Haykin
Figure Image
Portrait of Desiderius Erasmus, c.1530 –1536, by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Collection Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Loan: Erasmus Foundation 2013.

This comment in a 1516 letter by John Colet, one of Erasmus’ (c.1466−1536) scholarly friends, says much about the way that Erasmus was viewed by many in his day: he was, without doubt, the most famous scholar of his time. The illegitimate son of a priest, Erasmus was born at Gouda in the Netherlands between 1465 and 1469. His early education was with the Brethren of the Common Life, a semi-monastic movement of lay people founded in the Netherlands by Gerard Groote. Erasmus studied in this communal context for eleven years or so and it was here that he began his study of Greek that would lead to his fame later in life.