His mother died when he was thirteen years old, and a little later his father also; he was now sent by his guardians for two years, which he afterwards called two lost years, to the monastery school of Hertogenbosch.Then, after wandering aimlessly about for a time, he was forced, through necessity and the insistence of his guardians, to enter in 1486 the monastery of Emmaus, near Gouda, a house of Canons Regular.He felt no true religious vocation for such a step, and in later years characterized this act as the greatest misfortune of his life.

The most brilliant and most important leader of German humanism, b.

at Rotterdam, Holland, 28 October, probably in 1466; d. He was the illegitimate child of Gerard, a citizen of Gouda, and Margaretha Rogers, and at a later date latinized his name as Desiderius Erasmus. Erasmus and an elder brother were brought up at Gouda by their mother.

When nine years old he was sent to the school of the celebrated humanist Hegius at Deventer, where his taste for humanism was awakened and his powers of mind received their bent for life.

The most brilliant qualities of his intellect, a wonderful memory and an extraordinarily quick power of comprehension, showed themselves even in this his earliest training.

He was left free, however, to pursue his studies, and devoted himself mainly to the ancient classics, whose content and formal beauty he passionately admired.

His religious training was obtained from the study of St. In 1491 a lucky accident freed him from monastic life.The Bishop of Cambrai was minded to visit Italy and chose Erasmus as secretary and traveling companion, attracted by the young man's linguistic attainments; he also ordained him priest in 1492.The journey was never made, but Erasmus remained in the service of the bishop, who, in 1496, sent him to Paris to complete his studies.The scholastic method of instruction then prevalent at Paris was so repugnant to him that he spent much of his time travelling through France and the Netherlands, receiving occasionally friendly help; he was also for a while at Orléans, where he worked at his collection of proverbs, the later "Adagia".The money for a trip to England he earned by acting as tutor to three Englishmen, from whom he also obtained valuable letters of introduction.During his stay in England (1498-99), he made the acquaintance at Oxford of Colet, Thomas More, Latimer, and others, with all of whom acquaintance ripened into lifelong friendship.