Erasmus of Rotterdam to be a renowned Humanist scholar and theologian who wrote several essential texts criticizing the superstition and formalism of the church when upholding its main point spiritual values.

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Key Takeaways

Key PointsErasmus was a netherlands Renaissance Humanist, Catholic priest, society critic, teacher, and also theologian well-known as the “Prince of the Humanists” because that his influential scholarship and writings.Erasmus lived against the backdrop of the cultivation European spiritual Reformation, however while the was an important of the abuses in ~ the Catholic church and also called for reform, he maintained his distance from Luther and also continued to identify the authority of the pope.In The Handbook that the Christian Soldier, Erasmus outlines the see of the regular Christian life and critiques formalism—going v the motions of legacy without expertise their basis in the teachings that Christ.One that Erasmus’s best-known functions is In praise of Folly, a satirical assault on superstitions and other heritages of European society in general and the west church in particular.Key Termsecclesiastic: The theological study of the Christian church.satirical: characteristics of a genre of literature in i m sorry vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are hosted up come ridicule, ideally through the intent of shaming individuals, groups, or society itself into improvement.


Erasmus of Rotterdam, or simply Erasmus, to be a netherlands Renaissance Humanist, Catholic priest, society critic, teacher, and theologian.

Erasmus was a classic scholar and wrote in a pure Latin style. Among Humanists he delighted in the surname “Prince of the Humanists,” and also has been referred to as “the crowning glory the the Christian Humanists.” making use of Humanist methods for functioning on texts, he prepared important brand-new Latin and Greek execution of the brand-new Testament, which raised concerns that would certainly be influential in the protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation. He likewise wrote On totally free Will, The worship of Folly, Handbook that a Christian Knight, On Civility in Children, Copia: foundations of the plentiful Style, Julius Exclusus, and also many various other works.

Erasmus lived against the backdrop of the growing European religious Reformation, but while he was an important of the abuses within the Catholic church and called for reform, he preserved his street from Luther and also Melanchthon and continued to recognize the authority of the pope, emphasizing a center path with a deep respect for timeless faith, piety, and grace, rejecting Luther’s focus on belief alone. Erasmus stayed a member that the roman Catholic church every his life, staying committed come reforming the church and its clerics’ abuses indigenous within. He also held to the Catholic theory of cost-free will, which part Reformers rubbish in donate of the doctrine of predestination. His middle road (“Via Media“) technique disappointed and even angered scholar in both camps.

Approach to Scholarship

Erasmus wanted to live the life the an live independence scholar and also made a mindful effort come avoid any kind of actions or official ties that could inhibit his liberty of intellect and also literary expression. Throughout his life, he was available many positions of honor and profit throughout the academic world but declined them all, preferring the uncertain but sufficient rewards of independent literary activity.

His residence in ~ Leuven, whereby he lectured in ~ the university, exposed Erasmus to much criticism native those ascetics, academics, and clerics hostile to the values of literary and religious reform and also the loosened norms that the Renaissance adherents to which he to be devoting his life.

He make the efforts to totally free the approaches of scholarship indigenous the rigidity and also formalism of medieval traditions, but he was no satisfied v this. His revolt against particular forms of Christian monasticism and also scholasticism to be not based upon doubts about the fact of doctrine, no one from hostility come the company of the church itself, no one from refusal of celibacy or monastic lifestyles. He witnessed himself together a preacher of righteousness by an appeal to reason, used frankly and without fear of the magisterium. He constantly intended to stay faithful to Catholic doctrine, and therefore was convinced he could frankly criticize virtually everyone and everything. Aloof indigenous entangling obligations, Erasmus to be the center of the literary activity of his time, corresponding with more than 500 men in the worlds of politics and thought.


Erasmus wrote both on ecclesiastic subjects and also those of general human interest. Through the 1530s, the works of Erasmus accounted for ten come twenty percent the all publication sales in Europe.

His serious writings begin early, v the Enchiridion militis Christiani—the Handbook that the Christian Soldier (1503). In this quick work, Erasmus outlines the see of the normal Christian life, which he was to spend the rest of his job elaborating. The chief angry of the day, the says, is formalism—going v the movements of heritage without expertise their basis in the teachings of Christ. Forms can teach the soul how to praise God, or they might hide or quench the spirit. In his examination of the risks of formalism, Erasmus discusses monasticism, saint worship, war, the spirit of class, and also the foibles the “society.”

One of Erasmus’s best-known works is In praise of Folly, a satirical assault on superstitions and other traditions of European culture in general and also the west church in particular, created in 1509. In worship of Folly starts off with Folly praising herself, ~ the way of the Greek satirist Lucian, whose work-related Erasmus and Sir Thomas much more had recently analyzed into Latin, a piece of virtuoso foolery; it climate takes a darker tone in a series of orations, together Folly praises self-deception and madness and also moves come a satirical examination of pious yet superstitious abuses of Catholic doctrine and also corrupt methods in parts of the roman Catholic church—to which Erasmus was ever before faithful—and the folly the pedants. Erasmus had actually recently reverted disappointed from Rome, where he had turned down provides of advancement in the curia, and also Folly progressively takes top top Erasmus’s very own chastising voice. The essay ends v a straightforward statement that Christian ideals.

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Erasmus: Erasmus in 1523 as depicted by Hans Holbein the Younger. The Greek and Latin words on the book translate to “The Herculean Labours that Erasmus of Rotterdam.”

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