Desiderius Erasmus

Desiderius Erasmus (1466–1536) was born in Rotterdam as the illegitimate son of a priest and a physician’s daughter, a fact that haunted him all of his life (Winter, 2005). He was eventually ordained a priest but had no taste for church life, preferring instead study, travel, and independence. Although he was earning a living as a tutor, his travels throughout Europe brought him into contact with many leading scholars.


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Erasmus was opposed to a fanatical belief in any- thing. He was fond of pointing out mistakes in the classics, claiming that anything created by humans party; the mass was served by priests who lived godless lives and served it as a shoe- maker practices his trade; confession had become money-making and skirt-chasing; priests and monks were shameless tyrants.

Perhaps in an effort to silence him, the Catholic church secretly offered to make Erasmus a cardinal.

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