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By Desiderius Erasmus / Sweet and Maxwell / 1921
One of the most important figures of the 16th century, Desiderius Erasmus was a leading reformist and Renaissance humanist. Through his works and letters, Erasmus championed that true religion was a matter of inward devotion rather than outward symbols of ceremony and ritual, and sought to reform aspects of the Church from within. His works showed an astonishing intelligence, razor-sharp wit, and an authentic love for God and humanity. Soon after publication, his works were translated and read all over Europe.
In Europe, as Erasmus saw it, war was almost invariably the result of pride, folly, and selfish intrigue, and he made it his task to point out how, by proper instruction at the earliest age, the Sovereign and his Councilors might be led to abhor what was plainly the worst of all human calamities. Often considered the antithesis to Machiavelli’s The Prince (which was written only sixteen years later), Education of a Christian Prince argues in favor of a leader that rules justly and benevolently as opposed to Machiavelli’s advice for ruling with fear and oppression to maintain power.
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The reasons which justify the great efforts for peace being made in the world today are broadly the same as those urged by Erasmus four centuries ago, and the is much in the Institutio Principis, and in his other utterances on peace, that is neither trite nor of merely historical interest. Modern peace movements take the direction of international organizations, but there is still much to be said for the thesis, which formed the basis of Erasmus' work on the subject, that war can only be finally eliminated by the reform of "human nature."
—Percy Ellwood Corbett, from the Introduction
Perhaps no man wielded a greater influence in the sixteenth century than Erasmus. Both in his relation to Protestantism and Romanism, Erasmus was an epoch-making personality. The modern age cannot be understood without a study of his writings and the tracing of his influence.
—The Reformed Church Review
To read Erasmus is to grow in wisdom.
—Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Desiderius Erasmus (1466–1536) was a priest, scholar, author, and translator known as a leading figure in the Renaissance humanist movement before and during the Reformation. In 1506 he graduated as Doctor of Divinity from Turin University, and later was Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge. He then taught at Queens College, Cambridge for five years before becoming an independent scholar. Erasmus' works were very influential; his books were produced in many editions and translations and printed all through Europe during his lifetime.
Percy Ellwood Corbett (1892–1983) received his MA in 1915 and then volunteered to serve as an officer in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in France, where he was severely wounded and awarded the Military Cross. He returned from the war and attended Oxford University and was Fellow of All Souls College. He would go on to teach at Yale, Princeton University, University of Virginia, and Lehigh University.