Erasmus and the Humanists

Erasmus and the Humanists

Erasmus and the Humanists

Erasmus and the Humanists

Excerpt

Transalpine humanism, unlike such movements as Italian humanism and the Reformation, is rarely presented as a welldefined entity. Although it has often enough been pointed out that the humanists who flourished north of the Alps differed from their kinsmen in Italy, the attempt is seldom made to regard the Transalpine Renaissance as a distinct force with an individuality of its own. One usually speaks of the Renaissance and the Reformation as if the former were simply a compact unit rather than a vast complex of widely different organs. In the present work, however, only one phase of the Renaissance will be depicted and analyzed, namely, Transalpine humanism; and this phase will be differentiated from both Italian humanism and the Reformation.

Those who look upon Transalpine humanism as a relatively independent force instead of a mere sub-division of a larger movement, can readily understand the rôle played by such leaders as Reuchlin, Lefèvre, Colet, and Erasmus, -- men who simply cannot be classified among the champions of Protestantism or counter-reformation. It should be admitted that there was room in the age of Erasmus for a group of independent thinkers who refused to identify themselves with either Luther's cause or the plans of Loyola. In making such admission, however, one need not defend the viewpoint of Erasmus and his followers. For a student of history it will be sufficient to comprehend what thousands of well-meaning . . .

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