About Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus

Desiderius Erasmus was doubtless born out of wedlock, well cared for by his parents till their early death, and then given the best education open to a young man of his day in a series of monastic or semimonastic schools. All this early education is made by him in the light of later experience to appear like one long conspiracy to force him into the monastic life, but there is no other evidence for this, and recent criticism, has suggested ample motives for his desire to give his life-history this peculiar turn. He was admitted to the priest-hood and took the monastic vows at about the age of twenty-five, but there is no record that he ever exercised the priestly functions, and monasticism was one of the chief objects of his attack in his lifelong assault upon the evils of the Church.

Almost immediately after his consecration the way was opened to him for study at the University of Paris, then the chief seat of the later scholastic learning, but already beginning to feel the influence of the revived classic culture of Italy. From this time on Erasumus led the life of an independent scholar, independent of country, of academic ties, of religious allegiance, of everything that could interfere with the free development of his intellect and the freedom of his literary expression.

Erasums's literary productivity began comparatively late in his life. It was not until he had made himself master of a telling Latin style that he undertook to express himself on all current subjects of literature and religion. His revolt against the forms of Church life did not proceed from any questionings as to the truth of the traditional doctrine, nor from any hostility to the organization of the Church itself. Rather, he felt called upon to use his learning in a purification of the doctrine and in a liberalizing of the institutions of Christianity.

Quotes by Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus