ERASMUS The man, the myth, the legend, the university

Since 1973, exactly fifty years ago, the university has called itself Erasmus University. Students and staff can hardly miss the physical presence of Erasmus (1466-1536) with his many statues and portraits around Campus Woudestein. The city Rotterdam also embraced Erasmus. But who was Erasmus actually, and why do we consider him such an important inspiration? Based on books, letters, photos and other documents, this exhibition showcases the person, his work, and his relevance for the city and the university.

This exhibition is a cooperation of the Erasmus of Rotterdam Research Center, the University Library, the Rotterdamsch Leeskabinet, and the Erasmus Heritage Collection in the Rotterdam Public Library, which recently became UNESCO Memory of the World.

Lucas Cranach I, Portrait of Desiderius Erasmus, c. 1530-1536. Rotterdam: Collection Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, BRL 2012-06 (OK). Loan Erasmusstichting, 2023. Photography Studio Tromp

Desiderius Erasmus was born in Rotterdam in 1466 but he moved away as a toddler and attended Latin school in Deventer. After his parents passed away at an early age, the young adult entered the cloister Emmaüs near Gouda, much against his will. Rather than the duties of monastic life, Erasmus wished to read, learn, and write. He decided to leave the cloister and study theology in Paris. From there, Erasmus traveled to England, Italy, Switzerland, the Southern Netherlands, and Germany. Erasmus sought to be an independent academic who could live from his quill. For that reason, he did not want to tie himself to a single patron or a single university. It meant that he was always begging for money and that he was always traveling to his next temporary patron. In the end, Erasmus achieved the academic independence he wished for in Basel, Switzerland, where he remained until his death in 1536.

Left: Quinten Massys, Portrait of Erasmus, 1517 Oil on panel, transferred to canvas, 59 x 47 cm Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Rome, no. 1529. Right: Quentin Massys, Portrait of Pieter Gillis, 1517. Antwerpen: Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, no. 198.

As a result of his frequent travels, Erasmus had a broad international network that he maintained by corresponding through letters. Letters had become a major means of communications for academics in his time. The sixteenth-century academic community is therefore referred to as the Republic of Letters. These two portraits of 1517 testify of this academic community. Erasmus ordered the portraits of himself and his friend Pieter Gillis from the Southern Netherlandish artist Quentin Massys to gift to their English friend Thomas More. The gift was clearly well received, as is clear from a letter by Thomas More: "I am marvelously affected by the portraits of the men that you sent me […] and they touch me more than I am possibly able to explain as they are mementos - now tangible - of such good friends.”

While Erasmus commissioned some portraits to maintain his friendships, others were commissioned to shape his own image. Erasmus cooperated with major artists such as Hans Holbein and Albrecht Dürer, who designed the portrait you see here in 1526. As opposed to paintings, prints reached a far wider audience in book publications.

Right: Albrecht Dürer, Portrait of Erasmus, 1526. Etching on paper, 249x193 mm. Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, inv. no. RP-P-OB-1281,2.

Besides portraits on paintings and prints, Erasmus commissioned various medals with his portrait. This medal below is designed by Quinten Massys, who also made the double portrait with Pieter Gillis. The medals would be gifted to close friends and patrons.

Ascribed to Hieronymous Magdeburger after Quinten Massys, Erasmus and Terminus, 1531 Silver, 35,5 mm Rotterdam: NEPK, 1850

Erasmus carefully constructed his own image through portraits but also in his writing, both in letters and, even more explicitly, in his autobiography. The text is full of intentional omissions and inventions. For example, Erasmus is very vague about his descent, because he was born out of wedlock as a son of a priest and his housekeeper.

Left: Desiderius Erasmus, Compendium Vitae. Leiden: Thomas Basson, 1607. Anderlecht: Erasmushuis, E0551

An example of Erasmus’s correspondence is this letter to Nicolas Everaerts of 25 February 1521. In this letter, Erasmus criticized Luther's approach to scorn the Catholic Church. Although both Erasmus and Luther criticized the misuse of power and the sale of indulgences, Erasmus sought to internally reform the church while Luther called for the abolition of the Catholic Church altogether.

Above: Video on the letter to Nicolas Everaerts (Dutch). Right: Letter of Erasmus to Nicolas Everaerts (25 February 1521) Erasmus Collection, Rotterdam Public Library.

Erasmus and Luther also disagreed about the extent of free will a person possesses. Luther believed that individuals have no freedom to choose between good and evil and that instead everything is predetermined by God. Erasmus, on the other hand, argued people's salvation was not decided a priori but determined by God on the basis on the peoples’ beliefs and actions. Erasmus wrote his tract De libero arbitrio, or ‘of free will’ in response to a publication by Luther. In 2024, the 500th birthday of this tract will be widely celebrated.

Above: Lucas Cranach the Elder, Portrait of Martin Luther, 1528 Oil on panel, 40 x 25 cm Coburg: Coburg Fortress, inv. no. M417. Left: Erasmus, De libero arbitrio. Mainz: Schöffer, 1524. Bayerische StaatsBibliothek Res/Mor. 1296

This is another letter written by Erasmus. Writing to Viglius of Aytta on 14 May 1533, Erasmus mentions a collection of short verses by the Italian scholar Julius Caesar Scaliger. Erasmus had also written a book in this genre, namely his Adagia, in which he popularized proverbs such as ‘the blind leading the blind’, ‘neither fish nor flesh’ and ‘to look a gift horse in the mouth’. His Adagia was his bestseller and would be reissued and republished many times throughout his life and until today.

Above: Erasmus, Adagiorum Chiliades Tres, Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1508 Basel, Universitätsbibliothek, UBH DB III 7. Right: Letter of Erasmus to Viglius of Aytta (14 May 1533) Erasmus Collection, Rotterdam Public Library.

While the Adagia might be called Erasmus’s life work because he kept expanding the book throughout his life, another important publication in his oeuvre is the Novum Instrumentum. To address errors that had crept in the Latin translation of the bible, Erasmus learned Greek and reconstructed the New Testament using the oldest and most authentic sources available. He translated this new Bible into Latin, resulting in a bi-lingual edition, called the Novum Instrumentum and published in Basel in 1516.

Above: short video on the new Bible (Dutch) Left: Erasmus, Novum Instrumentum, Basel: Froben, 1516. Rotterdam Public Library, Erasmus Collection.

Hendrik Albert van Trigt, The Last Days of Erasmus in Bazel with Amerbach, Frobenius and Episcopius, 1879. Collection Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam 1870 (MK). Donation Vereniging van Voorstanders der Kunst, 1879. Photo by Studio Tromp.

Erasmus had been sickly throughout his life but felt his death approaching in 1536. In his handwritten last will, he dictated what should happen to his belongings. His money was to be spent on charity, specifically to financially support promising young students who could otherwise not afford to pursue a scholarly career.

Right: Erasmus, Handwritten last will, 12 February 1536. University Library Basel, AN III 15:Nr.96

Erasmus indeed passed away in 1536, after which he was buried in Basel. This is a cast of the skull that was thought to be that of Erasmus. After investigation in 1929, the identification was withdrawn because the skull showed signs of the STD syphilis, which was deemed incompatible with Erasmus’ abstinent lifestyle. These signs were later ascribed to the pest, but the identification of the skull remains doubtful. This cast is now in the Erasmus Collection in the Rotterdam Public Library. The Erasmus House Museum in Anderlecht has another cast.


Former curator of the Erasmus Collection Adrie van der Laan reads from Erasmus’s works, photo by Victor Wollaert

During his life but especially after his passing, Erasmus’s works and identity have been interpreted in manifold ways. It can be argued that historical interpretations of Erasmus are more telling about history and the historical society than about Erasmus himself. It is therefore interesting to reconstruct how the image of Erasmus has changed in the past five centuries through sources such as newspapers, cartoons, portraits, book illustrations, and biographies. An understanding of historical interpretations of Erasmus forces us to rethink our own understanding of Erasmus, which is equally mediated by our society.

Bruce Mansfield, Interpretations of Erasmus, Toronto: Toronto University Press, 1979-2003. Photo Arie Kers.

In this book series (above), Bruce Mansfield traces the changing interpretations of Erasmus from his own lifetime until the twenty-first century and connects these changes to broader cultural shifts.

Karl A.E. Enenkel (ed.), The reception of Erasmus in the early modern period, 2013

In his own lifetime Erasmus was a famous author. In the early modern period, spanning roughly 1450 to 1800, he was regularly alluded to throughout Europe and his work had profound impact, especially in religious matters. For example, Gregory D. Dodds explains how the wide distribution of Erasmus’ Paraphrases to the New Testament impacted church practices in Elizabethan England.

Right: Gregory D. Dodds, Exploiting Erasmus. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009.

Interpretations of Erasmus can be reconstructed through popularity of books in different times but also through biographies. When biographies are understood as products of their time rather than objective descriptions of a historical person’s life, they reflect the changed interpretations of Erasmus. For example, in 1924 cultural historian Johan Huizinga characterized Erasmus as idle while in 2021 Sandra Langereis presented a critical and sharp humanist through Erasmus’s correspondence.

Above: Johan Huizinga, Erasmus. 3rd edition. Haarlem: H.D. Tjeenk Willink & Zoon N.V. (1st ed. 1924). Photo Arie Kers. Left: Stefan Zweig, Triumph und Tragik des Erasmus von Rotterdam, Vienna: Herbert Reichner, 1934. Photo Arie Kers.

Interview with Sandra Langereis about her biography of Erasmus, by the Rotterdamsch Leeskabinet. (Dutch with English subtitles)

A theme that has been closely associated with Erasmus especially in the twentieth century is peace. Erasmus strongly advocated peace because he believed war caused only suffering to all involved parties. He expressed his criticisms of war in his essay Bellum, in which he cited the now famous proverb: Dulce bellum inexpertis”, or “war is sweet to them that do not know it”, originally by the Greek poet Pindar. In 1517 Erasmus wrote a treatise called Querela Pacis, or The Complaint of Peace, in which a personification of peace complaints that no one listens to her.

Above: Short video about The Complaint of Peace (Dutch). Right: Erasmus, Querela Pacis, Basel: Froben, 1517, Bibliotheek Rotterdam, Erasmuscollectie 11 E 5:2 (photo by Arie Kers).

The theme of peace is evident in this illustration of Erasmus on the occasion of the remembrance of Erasmus in 1936. In the illustration, the Erasmus statue from Rotterdam reads from the Praise of Folly. He is surrounded by social issues of the 1930s, including racial hatred, political polarization, and the arms race. Visually, there is a clear war theme. Denouncing the societal issues as follies, Erasmus is presented as a pacifist.

Left: Leo Jordaan, “Lof der Zotheid,” in: Groene Amsterdammer (26 juni 1936). Rotterdam Public Library, Collection Atlas van Stolk. Below: Nico van Suchtelen, Oorlog, Amsterdam: Wereldbibliotheek, 1936. Photo Arie Kers.

On the same occasion, Nico van Suchtelen published a book about the proverb “Dulce bellum inexpertis”. The preoccupation with war is evident and unsurprising as the Second World War would break out a mere four years later.

In 1988 a remembrance stone was placed to commemorate the bombing of Rotterdam in 1940. The text on the stone ends with a quote by Erasmus: “the most unjust peace is better than the most justified war”.

Right: L.H. Timmerman-Papenhuijzen, Remembrance stone for the bombing in 1940, 1988, ending with a quote by Erasmus.

Besides biographies, the spirit of the time is also evident in novels and theatre plays about Erasmus. These novels romanticize his life and are clearly a product of his mythologizing. For example, in the theatre play Desiderius Erasmus te Bazel of 1809, Carel Alexander van Ray presents Erasmus as a nationalist Dutchman while he is presented as a restrained scholar in the anarchistic opera “Reconstruction”. Often, the background of the author is clearly influential for the contents of the texts. The priest and author Armand Boni described Erasmus as a monk in his novel of 1977. Another novel, Het geheim van Erasmus, claims Erasmus for the city Gouda; unsurprisingly, the author has close ties with that city.

Above left: Armand Boni, Erasmus van Rotterdam de roman van een monnik en zijn tijd, Hasselt: Heideland-Orbis, 1977. Above middle: Maurits Tompot and Ines van Bokhoven, Het geheim van Erasmus, Zoetermeer: Mozaïek, 2006. Above right: Carel Alexander van Ray, Desiderius Erasmus te Bazel: origineel blijspel, met zang, Amsterdam: Belinfante en comp., 1809. Below: Anefo, Actors and the statue of Che Guevara during the final rehearsal of the opera “Reconstruction” in Carré, Amsterdam, 1969. National Archives,


Erasmus monument © Iris van den Broek

Even though Erasmus left Rotterdam as a toddler, he always referred to himself as a Rotterdammer. This association is mutual, because Rotterdam has always presented itself as the city of Erasmus. This started already in the sixteenth century and continues until today. How did this identification change through time? Based on poems, images, exhibitions, commemorations, and publications, we can get a sense of the changing affinity between Erasmus and Rotterdam.

The first time Rotterdam clearly expressed itself as city of Erasmus dates to the year 1549. In that year, a wooden statue was erected in honor of the visiting crown prince Philip and Mary of Hungary, governor of the Netherlands. This scene is depicted in this illustration of 1888. The story goes that a student would climb in the hollow and movable statue and welcome the crown prince with a text about tolerance, in which the policy of Philip’s father was criticized.

Left: Ch. Rochussen (after), A royal visit to Rotterdam in 1549, in Rotterdamsch Jaarboekje 1888. Photo: Stadsarchief Rotterdam

The first statue was replaced by a more durable stone statue in 1557, allegedly paid for by Philips II. Not long after the placement of this statue, the Dutch revolt broke out, an armed conflict between Dutch rebels and the Spanish government. According to a legend, a monk from Rotterdam told the Spanish soldiers that Erasmus was a heretic. In their hatred, the soldiers shot the statue and threw it into the water. Some sources mention that the bullets bounced from the statue and wounded bystanders. The event is depicted only twice and only two centuries after it happened. The design by Jacobus Buys of 1791 would be printed many times in book publications.

Left: Jacobus Buys, Spanish soldiers destroying the Erasmus statue, 1791, Stadsarchief Rotterdam, 4080 RI-1231B. Right: W.P. van Geldrop, Spanish soldiers destroying the Erasmus statue, 1864, Stadsarchief Rotterdam, 4080 RI-1232.

In 1622, a copper statue was erected on the Grote Markt in 1622. This statue had been designed by the famous sculptor and architect Henrick de Keyser and is special because in the seventeenth century it was highly uncommon to erect statues of people that were not kings or statesmen. To celebrate this event, the Amsterdam poet Joost van de Vondel wrote a verse about Erasmus and his statue. He wrote that Erasmus “brightens with time”, meaning that his fame would keep increasing throughout time.

Right: Joost van den Vondel, Op ’t Metalen Beeld onlanghs te Rotterdam Opgerecht tot Eere vanden Grooten Erasmus, 1622

In 2001 Rotterdam poet Jules Deelder also wrote a poem about the statue. Different than the praise by Vondel, Deelder wrote that Erasmus’s fame had vanished and that no Rotterdammer reads his books. The “much-shitted statue”, Deelder writes, stands in a place where “no human would let his dog urinate”.

Left: Mohammed Benzakour et al., Lof der Zotheid 2001 in gedichten. Amsterdam: Querido, 2001. Photos Arie Kers.

The Erasmus statue became a famous symbol in Rotterdam and was illustrated on many prints, such as this illustration of 1750 by Jan Punt. The etching accompanies a a hymn of Rotterdam by the poet Dirk Smits. In the background the city Rotterdam is recognizable by the Laurenskerk. In the foreground we can see personifications of the continents that bring homage to Rotterdam, personified by the enthroned woman with a crown in the shape of a fortification and the Rotterdam coat of arms. To the right of the ensemble stands the Erasmus statue, symbolizing scholarship or merely the fame of Rotterdam. Interestingly, the accompanying poem does not make any mention of Erasmus.

Right: Jan Punt, Allegory on Rotterdam trade, in Dirk Smits, De Rottestroom. Rotterdam, Ph. Losel, J.D. Beman, H. Kentlink, J. Bosch, N. Smithof, J. Losel, J. Burgvliet, 1750.

The copper statue of 1622 is still present in the center of Rotterdam, namely besides the Laurence church. In 2022 Rotterdam celebrated the 400-year anniversary of the Erasmus statue. During the celebrations in 2022, several scholars and Rotterdammers gave a lecture about various aspects of the statue and Erasmus. Their lectures are published in this booklet.

Left: Esther Didden et al., 400 jaar standbeeld Rotterdam. Rotterdam: CBK, 2022.

The statue has been regularly used as a backdrop to protests and demonstrations, as you can see in these pictures from 1961, 1973 and 2023. Most recently, it was used by activists from Scientific Rebellion to demand universities to stop using fossil fuels. Importantly, the protests generally do not respond to Erasmus or his beliefs but rather engage with the statue because it is a central and well-known monument.

Left: Ary Groeneveld, Students clothe the Erasmus statue with a flag, 1961. Stadsarchief Rotterdam, 4121-5547. Right: Extinction Rebellion, Erasmus blindfolded, 2023 via X.

In the twentieth century, many postcards of Rotterdam depicted Erasmus, often in the shape of his statue. This shows that Erasmus was strongly associated with Rotterdam and that the statue was a touristic attraction. This is not something new, because already in the sixteenth century travellers to Rotterdam made note of the Erasmus statue and the birth house of Erasmus.

Above: Postcard by J. Korff, Stadsarchief Rotterdam, 4029, PBK-8859. Right: Postcard by Schaefer Kunst Chromo, Stadsarchief Rotterdam, 4088, PBK-10844.

Rotterdam has frequently commemorated Erasmus on special moments, for example in 1936, 1969 and 1986 on the occasion of his birth or death. In each instance, many new editions of Erasmus’ oeuvre were published, exhibitions were organized, and lectures were given.

Clockwise: 1) Envelope of 1936 with an Erasmus postage stamp and ink stamp. 2) A.M. Koldeweij, Erasmus zicht op een geleerde in zijn tijd. Rotterdam: Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, 1986. (photo Arie Kers) 3) Ary Groeneveld, Opening of the exhibition ‘Meet Erasmus in the Street’, in a replica of Rotterdam of Erasmus’ time, 1969. Stadsarchief Rotterdam 4282 1969-1493. 4) Theatre play ‘Erasmus, play of humanism’ by the Maasstadspelers in 1969. Stadsarchief Rotterdam, 4282, 1969-1265, © Rotterdams Nieuwsblad.

Also without a special celebration, cultural institutes in Rotterdam organized events around Erasmus. In 2008, the Rotterdam Museum Boijmans hosted an exhibition ‘Images of Erasmus’ in which they displayed more than 150 artworks from around the world. The museum also has some portraits of Erasmus in its own collection.

Left: Exhibition Images of Erasmus in museum Boijmans, 2008

Besides the seventeenth-century Erasmus statue, there are many other visual references to Erasmus throughout the city. On the Erasmusstraat, next to the Gültepe mosque, is a wall painting of Erasmus and the Persian poet and philosopher Rumi. More in the center, on the Holbeinhuis on the Coolsingel, is a large mosaic wall decoration by Louis van Roode showing Erasmus riding between Rotterdam and Basel on horseback. On the other side of the street, on the façade of the city hall, is a medal with the portrait of Erasmus by Lambertus Franciscus Edema van der Tuuk. Very close by is Rotterdam Central Station, where you can see a quote by Erasmus in the entrance to the underground: “space separates the bodies, not the minds”. Close to the Laurence church and the Erasmus statue is the Erasmus monument in the shape of a small house, because this was the location of the birth house of Erasmus.

Clockwise: Ahmad Haraji, Erasmus & Rumi, 2008 (Erasmusstraat); Louis van Roode, Erasmus te paard, 1954 (Holbeinhuis); Diana de Graaf, Maaike Disco en Reinier de Gooijer, Erasmus Monument, 2016 (besides Laurence church); Quote ‘Space separates the bodies, not the minds’ (Rotterdam Central Station); Lambertus Franciscus Edema van der Tuuk, Medaillon with the portrait of Erasmus, c. 1920 (town hall)
Overzicht van de werken en uitgaven van Desiderius Erasmus aanwezig in de bibliotheek der Gemeente Rotterdam, 1936. Photo Arie Kers.

One of the places in Rotterdam where Erasmus is most clearly celebrated and commemorated is the Erasmus Collection in the Rotterdam Library. This is the largest Erasmus collection in the world with over 3,000 old books by and about Desiderius Erasmus produced before 1900. Among them are very rare copies and unique documents, such as self-written letters by Erasmus, dozens of first editions and many illustrated editions of the Praise of Folly. The collection was recently added to the international UNESCO Memory of the World Register.

Above: Short video about the adding of the Erasmus Collection to the international UNESCO Memory of the World Register (Dutch). Right: The depot of the Erasmus Heritage Collection


Erasmus statue on Campus Woudestein.

In 2023 the university has been called after Erasmus for 50 years. However, why was the university called after Erasmus and how has the university engaged with its namesake since 1973? For these engagements, we might distinguish between visual and substantial references to Erasmus. Visually, the references are abundant: there are several statues on the campus, quite some medals with Erasmus’ portrait, and some textual references to Erasmus. Content-wise, the references are now clear in the Erasmian Values, but it is much more difficult to trace these agreements between Erasmus and the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

While the university is called after Erasmus since 1973, Erasmus was connected with the university for the first time in 1968 by the Rotterdam burgomaster. However, only in 1972 the idea to call the new university after Erasmus was seriously discussed. The main reason for this name was its academic ring, because Rotterdam was until then mainly seen as a working-class harbor city.

Left: Matthijs Dicke et al., Ambitie en identiteit: Van Nederlandsche Handels-Hoogeschool tot Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam 1913-2013. Rotterdam: Stad en Bedrijf 2013.

On multiple occasions, the university published books about Erasmus. This booklet is an introduction by prof. dr. Hans Trapman about the famed Erasmus of Rotterdam. This small booklet was published by the university and spread among the citizens of Rotterdam in light of the "Erasmus in Rotterdam" event that was organized in 2008.

Right: Jan Trapman et al., Erasmus van Rotterdam, een kennismaking. Rotterdam: Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, 2008. Photo by Arie Kers

Another publication about Erasmus is this comic book that was published in 2009. The authors and designers were guided by emeritus professor Jan van Herwaarden and Adrie van der Laan, former curator of the Erasmus Heritage Collection.

Left: Rob Derks and René Leisink, Erasmus in Europa. Rotterdam: Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, 2009.

The university not only published books but also commissioned artworks that relate to Erasmus. The sculpture Praise of Folly is a statue on the route to the city center. The stylized donkey is a symbol for madness and folly, which are related to Erasmus through his satirical work such as the Praise of Folly. The sculpture was made on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Erasmus University in 1988.

Right: Geert van de Camp, Lof der Zotheid, Monument voor een Ezel, 1989.

Another statue commissioned by the university is the well-known Desiderius Multiplex. The statue is called as such because it consists of many layers that represent the multilayeredness of Erasmus himself. Since it was placed near the senate hall in 2009, many students have posed besides the statue after their graduation. 

Photos: Atelier Géèf (Gerard Frishert), Desiderius Multiplex ®, 2009

Close to the copy of the Copper Erasmus is the artwork Der Stein des Weisen by Kathrin Schlegel, placed on Campus Woudestein in 2018. In this artwork, a huge RVS thought cloud and the original seventeenth-century pedestal of the Erasmus statue are combined.

Some alumni also felt closely affiliated with Erasmus. In 2008, an alumnus of the Erasmus University donated a Chinese copy of the Erasmus statue of 1622. Many alumni have posed with the statue after their graduation.

In 2021, the Erasmus University introduced the so-called Erasmian Values: Socially engaged, World citizen, Connecting, Enterprising and Open-minded. Through these values, the university tried to relate more closely to Erasmus of Rotterdam. On the Erasmus Building, you can see the university’s mission: ‘creating positive societal impact the Erasmian way.’

Motto “Creating positive societal impact – The Erasmian Way” at Campus Woudestein. © Erasmus University Rotterdam – Alexander Santos Lima

Ever since the university was called after Erasmus researchers devoted their time to Erasmus. However, while Erasmus was a theologist and a latinist, neither of these disciplines are taught at the university. In the past, Rotterdam Erasmus scholars cooperated with other institutions in the Erasmus Center of Early Modern Studies. Today, the Erasmus of Rotterdam Research Centre focuses on Erasmus and his relevance for Rotterdam. The researchers of this center still work closely together with other institutes in Rotterdam, such as the Erasmus Collection, the world’s largest collection of Erasmiana in the world, located in the municipal library in Rotterdam, which is also a partner for this exhibition.

Hans Trapman is emeritus professor of cultural history at Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Above: Hans Trapman, Erasmus: een hoorcollege over zijn leven, oeuvre en de invloed van zijn denken. The Hague: Home Academy Publishers, 2013. Photo by Arie Kers. Left: Hans Trapman with his book Wijze dwaasheid (2012), photo by RD

Jan van Herwaarden is emeritus professor Cultural History of the Middle Ages and Renaissance at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Above: Jan van Herwaarden, Omgaan met Erasmus. Rotterdam: Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, 2005, photo by Arie Kers. Right: Jan van Herwaarden.

Feico Houweling (on the left, with the mayor of Rotterdam) initiated the ‘emergency faculty of letters’ at the EUR in 2000 because he felt this was a lacuna at the university. This emergency faculty led to the initiation of an endowed professorship in Letters and Literature at the EUR.

Above: Feico Houweling, Steden van Erasmus: de opmerkelijke rol van Rotterdam en Gouda in de Nederlandse Opstand. Rotterdam: Hoor! Geschiedenis, 2017. Left: Feico Houweling is awarded the Erasmus Pin from Rotterdam mayor Aboutaleb, picture by Rob Hilz.

Edwin Rabbie is emeritus professor of the endowed chair in the works of Erasmus on behalf of the Erasmus Trust Fund at Erasmus School of Philosophy.

Above: Edwin Rabbie, Erasmus in crisistijd, Rotterdam: Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, 2014. Photo by Arie Kers. Right: Edwin Rabbie poses besides Erasmus’ gravestone in Basel, photo by Agnes M.Th. de Wit

Han van Ruler is Professor of Intellectual History and Vice-Dean of Erasmus School of Philosophy at Erasmus University Rotterdam and member of the Erasmus of Rotterdam Research Centre. He writes and teaches about Erasmus within and outside the faculty.

Above: Han van Ruler and Jeroen Hermkens, In de voetsporen van Erasmus. Beilen: Pharos Uitgeverij, 2017. Left: Han van Ruler on the right, photo by Daan Stam

Ronald van Raak is professor of Erasmian Values at Erasmus University Rotterdam and member of the Erasmus of Rotterdam Research Centre. He emphasizes the inspirational role of Erasmus in thinking about values within the university.

Above: Video with highlights from the Rotterdamlezing 2023 by Ronald van Raak (Dutch with English subtitles). Right: Ronald van Raak, photo by Levien Willemse