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A Citizen of the World

In 1499 Erasmus left the priesthood adopting the peripatetic life as an independent scholar.  His teaching was in great demand all over Europe including the Universities of Paris, Basel, Leuven, Freiburg and Cambridge. A committed internationalist, Erasmus was famed for his assertion “I am a citizen of the world, known to all and to all a stranger”.

Erasmus the Scholar

Known as the ‘Prince of the Humanists’, Erasmus was the greatest scholar of the Northern Renaissance.  In the 1530s Erasmus alone authored over 20 per cent of all books sold in Europe, a remarkable achievement given his rapacious appetite for other people's books.  The quote that best sums up his scholarly obsession is, "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.”

Erasmus the Humanist

Although his scholarly work greatly influenced Reformation thinking he rejected Luther’s doctrine of Predestination.  Erasmus’s  book ‘On Free Will’ (1524), laid the foundations for a humanist scholarship that is still very much alive today.  Erasmus believed that scholarly investigations should never lose sight of their principal humanist objective; the creation of a better world.

 

Legacy

Inspiring great philosophical figures such as Spinoza and Leibniz, Erasmus turned down a number of well paid teaching positions in some of Europe's most prestigious academic institutions in order to live and travel freely as an independent thinker.  His contribution to the fields of theology, pedagogy, philosophy of language, and political thought were to become a major influence on the European Enlightenment two centuries later.  His life as a traveling scholar has inspired the educational exchange programme that bears his name.  His greatest legacy, however, is his dedication to humanist scholarship.  The central pillars of love and compassion that pervade the works of Erasmus are now more than ever, essential elements in any academic investigation, the aim of which is the creation of a better world.

Erasmus at work

Portrait of Desiderius Erasmus by Albrecht Dürer, 1526.

Portrait of Desiderius Erasmus

Portrait Erasmus by Albrecht Durer, 1520, Louvre, Paris

Erasmus's Hands

Holbein's studies of Erasmus's hands,  1523, Louvre, Paris.

for a better world...

Our ethos is simple and frames everything we do.  Academic investigations and scholarly endeavours must never lose sight of their main objective; the creation of a better world.