2. The Will of 1533

In moving from Basel to Freiburg - although the distance was only a hundred kilometers - Erasmus changed not only political jurisdiction, from a city in the Swiss Confederation whose Reformationsordnung was creating fresh problems to an imperial city functioning in the light of the Roman legacy of law and still professing obedience to the emperor and pope. There were other changes as well, involving intricacies of legalities and jurisdiction. 5

At Freiburg on 26 November 1533 Erasmus revoked his earlier will and made a new one. Unfortunately that will has not survived, although the attestation by a Freiburg notary has been preserved ( Allen XI, 362, Appendix XXV).


3. The Will of 1536

Back in Basel and in failing health, Erasmus needed a new will, and this was drawn up on 12 February 1536 ( Allen XI, 362-5). 6 This legal act was done only several months after his return to Basel in the summer of 1535, doubtless because of ill health. What cannot be discussed here is the extent of consultation (notably with doctors of law in Louvain, and doubtless in Basel as well), and the donation to Goclenius, a Louvain professor and intimate friend who lived in the Low Countries. 7

The main differences between this 1536 will and that of 1527 have been noted by Allen (XI, 362). The provision for the publication of the Opera Omnia has been dropped. The naming of executors calls for comment: Basil Amerbach (one of the three named in 1527) died in 1535, and only one of the remaining two was retained, Hieronymus Froben - Beatus Rhenanus was replaced by the partner of Froben, Nicholas Episcopius. 8 Two legatees named in 1527 are not found in 1536: Botzheim (who had died), and Glareanus (perhaps because he remained in Freiburg, not because he did not continue to be a devoted friend and admirer of Erasmus). Nine persons not named in 1527 were to receive bequests according to the 1536 will: Viterius, Montanus, Lambert Coomans, John Brisgoicus ( Erasmus' confessor), Paul Volz, Johann Erasmius Froben, Hieronymus Froben's wife, and Episcopius and Justina his wife. There are changes too, as Allen notes, in the monetary bequests.

Immediately after the funeral in Basel cathedral on 18 July 1536, his will was opened and read by the Basel clerk and notary; several days later another notary made a complete inventory of his money and goods. 9 It is evident that Erasmus must be accounted a wealthy man at his death, and that he was generous to his friends and benefactors.

The greater part of the monies at the disposal of the Basel executors became a trust for the support of students in the University of Basel, a part earmarked for poor students. From Roth it can be seen that the University of Basel still has Erasmus scholarships. 10


Notes
1)
In 1518 he thought of making a will: 'Things came to such a pass that I considered making my will' (Ep. 860/11-12 to Antonio Pucci 26 Aug. 1518, CWE 6:96/11-12). At that time he was about 51, well into the time of life when men thought of old age and death.
2)
The importance of the choice of Bonifacius Amerbach as trustee must

-385-

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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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