Desiderius Erasmus (c.1466-1536), Dutch humanist theologian. Born Gerrit Gerritszoon at Gouda, Erasmus was orphaned at the age of 17, and was sent to study in monastic schools, and then travelled all over Europe as an independent scholar. He prepared new Latin and Greek editions of the New Testament as well as other Biblical and theological works. Erasmus was sympathetic to the ideas of Martin Luther, but he declined to take sides in the developing struggle of the Reformation. Erasmus criticised clerical abuses in the Church, but was commited to reform from within as he saw a need for institutional rather than doctrinal change. He wrote extensively, his best-known work is Praise of Folly (written 1509), a satirical work on the Roman Catholic Church which he dedicated to Thomas More.
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