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Woolley, Benjamin. . New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2001.
The values of humanism spread from Italy to France, Germany, England, and the Netherlands around the end of the fifteenth century. One of the greatest humanist scholars was the Dutch cleric Desiderius Erasmus (1466–1536), who had been trained in a monastery and had taken his orders as a priest. Displeased with the monastery's scholastic approach to education, Erasmus went to Paris to teach. He eventually became a professor of Greek at Cambridge University in England. His best-known writings were about Christianity. Like Petrarch, he believed that scholastics had corrupted the faith, making doctrines too complicated to be useful in everyday life. His book (1509) is a criticism of the clergy and scholars of his day. In this and many other works he captivated the reading public with his common sense and his practical application of humanist theory to real life. When Martin Luther's (1483–1546) Protestant reforms spread in the 1520s many colleagues thought Erasmus would join the efforts to form a new Christian church. But Erasmus remained a loyal Catholic, believing reforms should be undertaken within the church.
"The Spell Binder." (accessed on July 11, 2006).
Most Renaissance humanists did not limit their knowledge to one branch of learning. The term "Renaissance man" describes an individual whose talents spanned a variety of disciplines. Two of the most famous Italian Renaissance artists, for example, followed several fields of study. Michelangelo (1475–1564) was a remarkable painter and sculptor and also a skilled architect and poet. Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) enhanced his artwork by studying mathematics, engineering, and anatomy, the study of the structure of the human body. Though some upper-class Renaissance women were well educated, they were usually not considered men's intellectual equals or given the opportunity to achieve independent fame and fortune. Queen Elizabeth, however, was a ruler, poet, translator, dancer, and musician, and she would certainly fit into the definition of the Renaissance individual.