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The Correspondence of Erasmus

The Correspondence of Erasmus: Letters 1-141 (1484-1500), Volume 1

R.A.B. Mynors
D.F.S. Thomson
annotated by Wallace K. Ferguson
Volume: 1
Copyright Date: 1974
Pages: 416
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  • Book Info
    The Correspondence of Erasmus
    Book Description:

    The correspondence of Erasmus has never been completely translated into English, although it has long been acknowledged to be one of the most illuminating sources for the history of northern humanism and the first two decades of the Protestant Reformation. In his letters, to and from scholars and religions leaders, printers and patrons, princes and prelates in every country of western Europe, the interests and issues of that critical era found free expression. They are connected by the thread of Erasmus' personal experience, his joys and sorrows, triumphs and tribulations, and his uninhibited conversation with his friends.

    Erasmus himself regarded his letters as a form of literature, and they were valued in his time, as they are now, as much for their style as for their content. InThe Study of Good Letters(Clarendon 1963), H.W. Garrod wrote: 'As a document of the history of the times the Letters have primary importance. Yet they ar to be valued, ultimately, not as they enable us to place Erasmus in history, but as they help us to disengage him from it, to redeem him out of history into literature, placing him where, in truth, he longed to be. Not theFollynor theColloquiesbut the Letters, are his best piece of literature. What he did in scholarship, whether biblical, patristic, or classical has been superseded - though not the fine temper of it. That fine free temper shines also in the Letters, being indeed one of the elements of literature? In the immortality of their readableness Erasmus lives securely, immune from the discredits of circumstances.'

    The volume of the correspondence is enormous, and its cumulative effect fully justifies the claims that have been made for its importance. Erasmus was from his youth on an indefatigable correspondent, although he was careless about preserving his own letters or those written to him until he became famous and found printers eager to publish them. As a consequence, 85 per cent of the surviving letters were written after he reached the age of forty-five. Even when he had no thought of publication, however, he strove ceaselessly to make his letters models of elegant classical latinity, while adjusting the style of each letter to fit its purpose, content, and recipient. Even the earliest letters of volume 1 bear evidence of this concern. This volume includes a number of youthful rhetorical attempts, letters describing his early vicissitudes as he struggled to maintain himself as a scholar, letters to friends and letters about enemies, letters to patrons and prospective patrons, and the beginnings of the more serious intellectual correspondence of his later years in an exchange of letters with John Colet on the subject of Christ's agony.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8093-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xxiii)
    W K F

    The correspondence of Erasmus constitutes a source of inestimable value, not only for the biography of the great humanist himself, but also for the intellectual and religious history of the northern Renaissance and the Reformation. Myron Gilmore has recently called it ʹperhaps the greatest single source for the intellectual history of [Erasmusʹ] age.ʹ¹ And Froude, in the preface to hisLife and Letters of Erasmus, wrote with his customary enthusiasm: ʹThe best description of the state of Europe in the age immediately preceding the Reformation will be found in the correspondence of Erasmus himself. I can promise my own readers...

  5. Editorsʹ Note
    (pp. xxiv-xxvi)
  6. Translatorsʹ Note
    (pp. xxvii-xxvii)
  7. Map showing the principal places mentioned in volume 1
    (pp. xxviii-xxviii)
    (pp. 1-310)

    ERASMUS OF ROTTERDAM TO HIS FORMER GUARDIAN, MASTER PIETER WINCKEL I am very much afraid that the end of this brief period may find our affairs not yet safely taken care of, though they should have been settled long since - belatedly even then. Therefore I think that all ingenuity, care and zeal should be devoted to seeing that our interests be not harmed. Perhaps you will say that I am one of the kind who worry in case the sky should fall. This might be true enough if the capital were already there, waiting in our pockets. But your...

  9. MONEY AND COINAGE OF THE AGE OF ERASMUS An historical and analytical glossary with particular reference to France, the Low Countries England, the Rhineland and Italy
    (pp. 311-348)

    The weights of all the coins listed in the glossary are expressed first in terms of the medieval notation of this era: the taille, literally the number of coins cut, struck from a marc or pound or other mint-weight unit of precious metal of the decreed fineness. The theoretical mean weights are then given in grams, or, for English coins, also in Troy grains. Because of the crudity of minting techniques of this era, the frequent and fraudulent practice of ʹclippingʹ and ʹsweatingʹ coins, and simply their normal wear and tear in circulation, one should not expect to find that...

    (pp. 350-353)
    (pp. 354-355)
    (pp. 356-356)
    (pp. 357-360)
  14. Index
    (pp. 361-368)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 369-369)