Erasmus was an influential Dutch scholar who played a large role in the early humanist movement. Erasmus was well-known for being critical of the Roman Catholic Church and its excesses, although he remained part of the church until his death.
Also known as Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, Erasmus was born in 1466 as an illegitimate son. As a child he was a natural academic, and he quickly gained a reputation for speaking out against authority, particularly that of the church. After a short time as a priest, Erasmus became a scholar and lecturer. His most famous work, "The Praise of Folly," was relatively critical of the church and its ways.