Thomas More and Desiderius Erasmus

Northern humanism is best exemplified by Thomas More and Desiderius Erasmus. More and Erasmus were, in fact, great friends, and both were attracted to the religious life. Thomas More contemplated leaving his legal career to become a monk, and Erasmus was an ordained Catholic priest. Both were faithful Catholics. They also wrote famous critiques of the society of the times. More wrote a political satire in his famous Utopia, a veiled attack on the unjust society of Henry VIII’s England. Erasmus wrote his famous Praise of Folly, dedicated to More, which was critical of the Catholic Church and society of his day, as well. More died for his faith, while Erasmus was often blamed for inciting people like Luther and contributing to the Reformation, something he vehemently denied. In fact, Erasmus was highly critical of Luther and his ideas, even though he felt that reform was needed. Both More and Erasmus were keenly aware of the problems of their societies and the injustices and failures of both church and state in their age. How, in your opinion, did Thomas More and Desiderius Erasmus embody the ideals of the Northern Renaissance? Discuss the ways in which their lives and writing reflected their concerns and interests. Which do you admire more, the Italian or Northern Renaissance humanist? Why? Include at least one additional resource other than the textbook in your post.

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