The christian peace of Erasmus

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The aim of this essay is to show that Erasmus's concept of peace should be understood as a form of irenicism rather than pacifism. I argue that Erasmus's basic claims on war and peace do not qualify him as a pacifist, first of all because his concept of peace is non-universal: it is exclusively Christian since it does not include Muslims and Jews unless they have converted to Christianity. Secondly, Erasmus's willingness to fight the Turks and his call for a Christian war against them suggests that he was not a pacifist. Since the peace Erasmus preached for was exclusively Christian, it cannot be identified as pacifism in its accepted universal sense, but rather as a commitment to the peace of Christendom, and therefore his concept of peace should more precisely be described as irenic. By shedding new light on Erasmus's notion of war and peace, this essay suggests that his alleged religious tolerance should be considered anew.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-42
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Legacy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Philosophy


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