The Dutch humanist, Desiderius Erasmus, was born in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, in 1466 and lived till 1536. He was called Gerrit Gerritszoon (Dutch for Gerard Gerardson) but he adopted the Erasmus name by which he is known.
Erasmus was an enlightened figure in the turbulent Middle Ages. He preached tolerance, reason, understanding and reconciliation in a world which was rather intolerant. He abhorred violence and cruelty. He pleaded for the rights of women and for better education of the young. Indeed, Erasmus was a unique teacher, guide, educator and moralist. He travelled widely in Europe, visiting England, France, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland for longer periods. During his stay in England he was in close contact with Sir Thomas More and others.
Why did we adopt Erasmus' name?
Erasmus' long and close association with English speaking persons was the reason the Erasmus Foundation chose his name as a symbol of the cultural links between people of an Australian and Dutch background. Key objectives of the Foundation are to promote these links, as well as an understanding of and friendship with the people concerned.