42
The Freiburg Years, 1529-1535

God is like the brilliant chorus-leader of a play who introduces various characters on to the stage of life and has a reward ready for all who properly play the role He has assigned.

Erasmus to Jacopo Sadoleto, 7 March 1531, Epistle 2443

The greatest good fortune, even greater than health, for the old person is to have his world still inhabited by projects; then, busy and useful, he escapes both from boredom and from decay.

Simone de Beauvoir, Old Age, 548

To give me a position of rank would be like piling up treasures on the back of an old worn-out nag, now that the course of my life is almost run.

Erasmus to Bernard of Cles, May 1532, Epistle 2651 (trans. M. A. Haworth in Hillerbrand 261)

Basel had become a city of factions. The leader of the conservatives was Ludwig Baer, still rector of the university but 'a living corpse' who had just married a widow of twenty. 1 Against the pressuring of Oecolampadius, who had become the minister of St Martin's church and leader of the reform movement in Basel, Baer strove for moderation. The position of the town council of Basel was that no one should be compelled to go either to Mass or to the reformed services, and everyone should be free to follow his own conscience. As Wackernagel notes, this meant -- or would have meant -- pluralism within a single city. 2 But such a compromise was unacceptable to extremists like Oecolampadius. A violent turn came on 9 February 1529.

Several hundred men gathered in the Barfüsserkirche and demanded the abolition of the Mass; the council began its deliberations but reached no decision by nightfall. Next day while the council again sat, the mob moved angrily from the Marktplatz to the cathedral square and began smashing the images of the Münster and other churches. The scene has been described by Bainton:

In the morning Basel looked upon the broken idols, torsos,

-337-

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Erasmus of Europe: - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Notes xiv
  • List of Abbreviations xv
  • List of ILlustrations xvii
  • 18 Return from England: the Years in Flanders and Paris, 1501-1502 1
  • 19 the Early Louvain Years, 1502-1504 14
  • Notes 24
  • 20 the Enchiridion: 'Philosophia Christi' 28
  • Notes 40
  • 21 1504, a Threshold Year 41
  • Notes 49
  • 22 Return to England, 1505-1506 51
  • Notes 59
  • 23 Italy, 1506-1509 62
  • Notes 71
  • 24 the Adages 74
  • Notes 82
  • 25 England Again, 1509: the 'Period of Silence' 86
  • Notes 92
  • 25 the Praise of Folly 95
  • Notes 105
  • 27 the Cambridge Years, 1511-1514 109
  • Notes 122
  • 28 the Changing World in 1514 126
  • 29 Vocation and Life-Style 140
  • Notes 147
  • 30 to Basel, Summer 1514 149
  • Notes 161
  • 31 1516, the Annus Mirabilis 165
  • Notes 173
  • 32 the New Testament: A Life Work 175
  • Notes 189
  • Notes 210
  • 34 the Rising Storm of Controversy: Erasmus and His Catholic Critics, 1517-1522 216
  • Notes 231
  • 35 the Colloquies 236
  • Notes 243
  • Erasmus and His Friends: His Audience and His Geography 247
  • Notes 259
  • 37 Reform and Reformation: Ecclesia Semper Reformanda 263
  • Notes 278
  • 38 the Basel Years, 1521-1529: the Reformation Storm Rising 283
  • 39 Erasmus and Luther: on the Freedom of the Will 298
  • Notes 306
  • 40 Language and Style 310
  • Notes 317
  • 41 the Basel Years: Humanism and Religion 320
  • Notes 333
  • 42 the Freiburg Years, 1529-1535 337
  • Notes 346
  • 43 the Final Act at Basel: Summer 1535 to July 1536 350
  • Notes 359
  • 44 the Achievement of Erasmus and His Place in History 362
  • Notes 377
  • Appendix C Erasmus' Dispensations 381
  • Notes 383
  • Appendix D Erasmus' Wills 384
  • Notes 385
  • Appendix E Portraits of Erasmus 387
  • An Erasmian Chronology: LIfe and Writings 390
  • Bibliography 393
  • Index of Names of Persons 408
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