Erasmus of Rotterdam: With a Selection from the Letters of Erasmus

By Erasmus; J. Huizinga | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
YEARS OF TROUBLE--LOUVAIN, PARIS, ENGLAND 1502-6

Death of Batt: 1502 -- First stay at Louvain: 1502-4 -- Translations from the Greek -- At Paris again -- Valla'sAnnotationeson the New Testament -- Second stay in England: 1505-6 -- More patrons and friends -- Departure for Italy: 1506 -- Carmen Alpestre

CIRCUMSTANCES continued to remain unfavourable for Erasmus. 'This year fortune has truly been raging violently against me,' he writes in the autumn of 1502. In the spring his good friend Batt had died. It is a pity that no letters written by Erasmus directly after his bereavement have come down to us. We should be glad to have for that faithful helper a monument in addition to that which Erasmus erected to his memory in the Antibarbari. Anna of Veere had remarried and, as a patroness, might henceforth be left out of account. In October 1502, Henry of Bergen passed away. 'I have commemorated the Bishop of Cambray in three Latin epitaphs and a Greek one; they sent me but six guilders, that also in death he should remain true to himself.' In Francis of Busleiden, Archbishop of Besanqon, he lost at about the same time a prospective new patron. He still felt shut out from Paris, Cologne and England by the danger of the plague.

In the late summer of 1502 he went to Louvain, 'flung thither by the plague,' he says. The university of Louvain, established in 1425 to wean the Netherlands in spiritual matters from Paris, was, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, one of the strongholds of theological tradition, which, however, did not prevent the progress of classical studies. How else should Adrian of Utrecht, later pope but at that time Dean of Saint Peter's and professor of theology, have forthwith undertaken to get him a professorship? Erasmus declined the

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