One of the most important figures of the 16th century, Desiderius Erasmus was a leading reformist and Renaissance humanist. Through his works and letters. A book called in Latin Enchiridion militis Christiani, and in English The manual of the Christian knight. by Erasmus, Desiderius, d. Originally published as part of: Lucubratiunculae, Antwerp, First published separately Leipzig,

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The Manual of a Christian Knight – Online Library of Liberty

Thou warrest not only with filthy title or quarrel, but also for a miserable reward. If ye shall, walking in the spirit, mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live. The rebellion of nature is to be imputed to no man.

Filthiness is foolishness, virtue is wisdom. For truly it is not meet nor convenient to declare ourselves christian men by this proof or enhciridion, if we kill very many, but rather if we save very many: And again we know saith he that the law is spiritual, and not carnal. This ye shall do, this ye shall not do; but of this manner: The rest is therefore that no man foolishly stand Edition: Enhciridion one unquiet and a hunter: In times past, as I said, a religious life was nothing but a solitary life.

Online Library of Liberty

Also he doth not dispraise virtue nor praise vice, which sheweth the preposterous and wrong judgment of the common people, which among virtues esteem those to be of most great value and chiefest which be of the lowest sort: They must be honoured when they do their office: Nor yet in the mean time I do no wrong to any manner of living or profession, though I propound and set forth afore every man that thing which is best and most perfect: As the Pharysees for zeal of their traditions persecuted Christ and the apostles.


There be amongst these that have had two wives which Christ thinketh worthy for the first circle. And specially if he shew what is to be eschewed after such sober and discreet manner, that he do neither name any man nor touch any order. But what will ye do when this rule doth not agree with those things which hath been commonly used so many hundred years, and which be ordained and stablished by the laws of princes, for this thing chanceth very oft? She despiseth these things that are seen, for she knoweth them to be transitory, she seeketh true things of substance which be permanent and ever abiding, and because she is immortal and also celestial she loveth things immortal and celestial, and rejoiceth with things of like nature, except she be utterly drowned in the filth of the body and by contagiousness of him hath gone out of kind from her native gentleness.

If he stay thee, who shall cast thee down?

The one maketh intercession and prayeth. And is this death more cruel yet than the other?

The difficulty of holy scripture. Thou seest how the mother of the extreme mischief is worldly wisdom The wisdom of Christ.

Profiting by his example, we shall Edition: The flesh is called in scripture whatsoever is visible or perceived outward with any sensible power. The same peace the philosophers also promised unto the followers of their conclusions, but yet falsely, for Christ only giveth it, the Edition: For in the mystical body he that but late was the foot may be the eye. Anon he is accused as though he should favour those vices which he sheweth to be more grievous than other, and as though he should condemn those good deeds and benefits to whom he preferreth other more holy and better.


He never rebuked the apostles more sharply than when they would have been avenged, or when they were ambitious.

Handbook of a Christian Knight | work by Erasmus |

And the most effectuous thing is the true verity of Christ. And there be which be vexed with certain wonderful and fatal vices, with theft, sacrilege and homicide: They deal and meddle with many things which be low and gross, not altogether of the very pureness of a christian man: When was ever charity so cold? Therefore seeing that thou hast taken upon thee war against thyself, and the chief hope and comfort of victory is if thou know thyself to the uttermost, I will paint a certain image of thyself, as it were in a table, and set it before thine eyes that thou mayst perfectly know what thou art inwardly and within thy skin.

And that the most part of men be overmuch deceived The comparison of the world to a juggler.