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

By Erasmus; J. Huizinga | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
IN ITALY 1506-9

Erasmus in Italy: 1506-9--He takes fhis degree at Turin--Bologna and Pope Julius II--Erasmus in Venice with Aldus: 1507-8--The art of printing--Alexander Stewart--To Rome: 1509--News of Henry VIII's accession--Erasmus leaves Italy

AT Turin Erasmus received, directly upon his arrival, on 4 September 1506, the degree of doctor of theology. That he did not attach much value to the degree is easy to undrstand. He regarded it, however, as an official warrant of his competence as a writer on theological subjects, which would strengthen his position when assailed by the suspicion of his critics. He writes disdainfully about the title, even to his Dutch friends who in former days had helped him on in his studies for the express purpose of obtaining the doctor's defgree. As early as 1501, to Anna of Borselen he writes, "Go to Italy and obtain the doctor's degree? Foolish projects, both of them. But one should conform to the customs of the times.' Again to Servatius and Johannes Obrecht, half apologetically, he says: 'I have obtained the doctor's degree in theology, and that quite contrary to my intention, only because I was overcome by the prayers of friends.'

Bologna was now the destination of his journey. But when Erasmus arrived there, a war was in progress which forced him to retire to Florence for a time. Pope Julius II, allied with the French, at the head of an army, marched on Bologna to conquer it from the Bentivogli. This purpose was soon attained , and Bologna was a safe place to return to. On 11 November 1606, Erasmus witnessed the triumphal entry of the material pope.

Of these days nothing but short, hasty letters of his have come down to us. They speak of unrest and rumours of war. There is nothing to show that he was impressed by the beauty of the Italy of the Renaissance. The scanty correspondence

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