The views of Erasmus of Rotterdam and his Polish followers on war against the Turks

  • Piotr Tafiłowski (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


In the first three decades of the 16th century, Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466-1536) became a “one-man-institution”, and, at the same time, despite all his love for his native Netherlands - ‘a citizen of Europe’. I am aware of the ‘ahistoricity’ of these declarations; nevertheless, I believe they provide an accurate description of the phenomenon we are dealing with in the case of this figure. It might be more accurate to say, however, that he was a citizen of the Respublica Litteraria, for whom ethnicity, nationality, political or state affiliations were of little importance, and fade into the distance, in view of his immersion in the world of classical philology and culture. In the present text, I am going, first of all, to analyse Erasmus’s opinion on ‘the Turkish issue’ and his position on the struggle against the Ottoman Empire. The other subject of interest for me, is Erasmus’s impact on Polish humanists and poets in this respect. This issue, examined from many points of view, has already been investigated by many mainly Polish (but not exclusively) historians, literary scholars and philologists. The question has been studied by Wacława Szelińska, Zofia Szmydtowa, Maria Cytowska, Janusz Tazbir, Henryk Barycz, Leszek Hajdukiewicz, Stanisław Łempicki, Claude Backvis and finally Piotr Tafiłowski. Erasmus’s influence on the anti-Trinitarian writers has been analysed by Konrad Górski.