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Swiss American Historical Society Review

Swiss American Historical Society Review

Article Title

Erasmus and Switzerland

Keywords

Erasmus, Switzerland, Holland, scholars

Abstract

Although Erasmus (1467?-1536) lived in Switzerland for ten years, a longer period of time than in any country except his native Holland, and was, in fact, buried in Basel, scholars have written very little of substance on his lengthy connections with Switzerland and Swiss intellectuals and publishers. This is surprising because links between Erasmus and specific European countries have attracted a great deal of interest from leading Erasmus scholars. In his 1954 book Erasme et l 'Italie, Augustin Renaudet examined the important connections between Erasmus and Italian theologians and philosophers. Not only did Erasmus earn his doctorate in sacred theology at the University of Turin in 1506, but his first major works were published in Venice by Aldus Manutius. Until 1512, Erasmus made several extended stays in Italy and he had several influential friends in the Vatican. The pacifist Erasmus was, however, very displeased by the warrior Pope Julius II against whom he wrote a witty, satirical satire entitled Julius exclusus e coeilis (Julius Excluded from Heaven). In this work, published anonymously in 1513 but clearly written by Erasmus, St. Peter does not permit Pope Julius II to enter heaven because this pope's undertaking of violent wars contradicted Christ's teaching of peace. As a faithful Catholic priest who wanted to avoid conflicts with influential people at the Vatican, Erasmus wisely concluded that it was in his self-interest to leave Italy for England where his close friends John Colet, John Fisher, and Thomas More lived. Despite his departure from Italy Erasmus continued to correspond with Italian writers until his death in Basel in 1536.

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