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Erasmus' Cambridge Years (1511-1514) The Execution of Erasmus' Christian Humanist Programme, His Epitaph for Lady Margaret's Tomb in Westminster Abbey (1512), and His Failed Attempt to Obtain the Lady Margaret's Professorship in the Face of Scholastic Opposition

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Despite the clear attestation of Erasmus' three-year period in Cambridge from 1511 to 1514, the reason for and nature of his stay - including whether he was also the official incumbent of the Lady Margaret's professorship, created in 1502 as the first established chair at the university - are still contested. This paper argues that three issues have not been (sufficiently) taken on board in these discussions: namely, the statutes for the 'lecture of sacred Theology founded by Margaret, Countess of Richmond'; the fact that in December 1512, Erasmus was paid to compose the epitaph for Lady Margaret's tomb in Westminster Abbey; and the nature of Erasmus' work whilst he was at Cambridge, which he describes in a letter as teaching 'Greek and sacred literature' (Ep. 296). Our new proposal is that Erasmus' three-year stay in Cambridge began with an initial year in which he taught Greek, explored his opportunities, and prepared himself for the competition surrounding the election for the Lady Margaret's professorship. Yet the Cambridge theologians did not support him in the election, and he ultimately lost to a competitor. Erasmus' failure to secure the Lady Margaret's professorship is closely related to his understanding of theology as 'sacred literature', which allows it to be compared to 'the (good) literature' and philosophy of Greek and Roman authors. His defeat constitutes its own episode in the series of tensions between Christian biblical humanism and what Erasmus saw as modernist scholastic theology.



4705 Literary Studies, 43 History, Heritage and Archaeology, 47 Language, Communication and Culture, 4303 Historical Studies, 50 Philosophy and Religious Studies, 5005 Theology

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Erasmus Studies

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