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Exploiting Erasmus

Exploiting Erasmus: The Erasmian Legacy and Religious Change in Early Modern England

  • Book Info
    Exploiting Erasmus
    Book Description:

    Exploiting Erasmusexamines the legacy of Erasmus in England from the mid-sixteenth century to the overthrow of James II in 1688 and studies the various ways in which his works were received, manipulated, and used in religious controversies that threatened both church and state.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8805-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-2)

    Desiderius Erasmus was arguably the most widely read author in early sixteenth-century Europe. As that century progressed, however, the strife of the Reformation sidelined Erasmus’ vision of moderate and peaceful Catholic reform. Protestants began to mistrust him for his loyalty to the Roman Church and his writings were placed on the Index of Prohibited Books by Pope Paul IV. Religious warfare made his calls for peace seem quaint, naive, and uncommitted to true Christianity. He was not completely marginalized, however, and especially in England continued to have a fair amount of influence. Roland Bainton was not inaccurate when he said...

  5. ONE The Englishing of the Paraphrases
    (pp. 3-26)

    One of the most interesting and unlikely books to emerge from the English Reformation was the English translation of Erasmus’Paraphrases on the New Testament.TheParaphrases, along with the Bible, theBook of Homilies, and theBook of Common Prayer, became a required text of the evolving English church. It is, of course, hardly surprising that Erasmus was a popular author in the mid-sixteenth century. What is unusual is that a Catholic author, whose theology was far different from the Protestantism of Luther or Calvin, became an official part of the English Reformation under Edward VI and again during...

  6. TWO Theology and Rhetoric in the English Paraphrases
    (pp. 27-60)

    Erasmus’Paraphrases on the New Testamentwere unique texts in Elizabethan England. As outlined in the previous chapter, theParaphraseswent through a large print run, were widely distributed, and were mandated for churches and clergy by numerous Edwardian and Elizabethan injunctions. There is no doubt that they were eventually of lesser consequence in Elizabeth’s England than Foxe’sActs and Monuments,Calvin’sInstitutes,and ultimately, William Perkins’ theological treatises. Yet, on a second tier, Erasmus’ writings remained quite popular throughout the sixteenth century and it is particularly problematic to overlook the significance of the English translation of hisParaphrases,as...

  7. THREE Transmitting Erasmus in Elizabethan England
    (pp. 61-92)

    In 1559 Thomas Paynell publishedThe Complaint of Peace, a translation of Erasmus’Querela Pacis. In the introduction, Paynell wrote that ‘Erasimus Roterodamus, one of the excelenste Clerkes of oure tyme, perceyvynge and felynge the worlde to be waueryng, troublesome, unquiet, and euery where bended and inclined to warre and myscheyfe, coulde not temper hymselfe, nor yet his penne, but neades he must write unto the worlde this true and eloquent complaint the whiche I haue translated and dedicated unto youre Lorshyp, as unto a father and a supporter of peace, & quietnes, intytuled the complaynte of Peace.’¹ The world...

  8. FOUR The Erasmian Perspective in the Elizabethan Church
    (pp. 93-124)

    The previous chapters have detailed the transmission and use of Erasmus in Elizabethan England. Erasmian scholarship was widely read and cited, but what exactly was the meaning and importance of Erasmus’ legacy in England? What role did the Erasmian perspective have in Elizabethan religious dialogue? And, how does knowledge of Erasmian thought, texts, and citations alter our view of the Elizabethan era? The number of texts that used Erasmus as a textual authority is an argument for Erasmus’ importance in English culture. Yet, if Erasmian texts were not available for English readers would English thought have been different or would...

  9. FIVE The Malleable Erasmus, 1603–1649
    (pp. 125-158)

    ‘Therefore take your Puritane Punke with you, you have made her a holy sister; I, andPermenco, will goe seeke some other young Mistris.’¹ So wrote Erasmus to conclude his colloquyAdolescentis et scorti. In reality, this was not Erasmus, but part of a new Puritan ending affixed to Erasmus’ colloquy and sold under the titleThe Picture of a Wanton.The Puritan, F.S., did indicate in the introduction that he was manipulating and augmenting Erasmus’ text, but within the text itself there was no distinction between what came from Erasmus and what was added by F.S. For English readers...

  10. SIX Constructing the Moderate Middle in Early Stuart England
    (pp. 159-200)

    When Elizabeth I died and James I began his journey south to accept the English crown, many English Puritans were optimistic that there finally would be a complete reformation of the English church. Their hopes derived from James’ personal Calvinist faith and assumptions that since the Scottish church was Presbyterian, James would support at least some ecclesiastical reform of the English episcopacy.¹ James raised expectations even higher when he agreed to hold a theological conference to discuss further reform of the English church at Hampton Court in 1604. The new king, however, proved rather disappointing to the zealous godly, whom...

  11. SEVEN Erasmian Rhetoric and Religious War
    (pp. 201-226)

    In 1643, as it was becoming apparent that a large civil war was not going to be averted, a semi-anonymous Puritan, who referred to himself as D.T., produced a text that purported to link Laud and Charles I with Catholicism. However, rather than simply suggesting that Laud’s Arminianism resembled Catholicism, D.T. claimed to have discovered a document that proved collaboration between Laud and Panzani, the Venetian ambassador to England. D.T. wanted his readers to recognize the evil behind Laud and Charles I’s rhetoric of peace and charity. The deception of such language had remained hidden, but now ‘the great and...

  12. EIGHT The Erasmian Legacy to 1689
    (pp. 227-268)

    Following the execution of Charles I and the advent of Cromwell’s rule, many in England expected that the English people would unite around a Reformed vision of English Protestantism. But reality turned out to be far different from what Presbyterians had envisioned. Although Cromwell first attempted to control Parliament and then ruled without it altogether, he did not have the power or, perhaps, the inclination to create and enforce religious uniformity. The result was an explosion of sects and a wider application of tolerance than all but a few wanted. Presbyterians such as Thomas Edwards were horrified.¹ Even though there...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 269-358)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 359-394)
  15. Index
    (pp. 395-405)