Agricola by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Rudolphus Agricola (Roelof Huisman, 1443-85) was an early humanist scholar. Born in Balfo in the province of Groningen, like his admirer Erasmus, he was the natural son of a cleric. Agricola was educated at Erfurt (BA) and Louvain (MA) before spending a decade studying in Italy at Pavia and Ferrara. Returning home, he became the official scribe and orator of the city of Groningen and the centre of a group of Dutch humanists. He left Groningen to lecture at Heidelberg where he died. In addition to philosophical works (such as his De inventione dialectica, 1479) he wrote on education (De formando studio, 1484) translated Greek texts, and wrote poetry and orations.

‘Nothing originates from that man that doesn’t breathe a certain divine genius’ – Erasmus, Epistolae 1978 (1528)

‘I should in fact like to see all young people who want sound knowledge read [Agricola’s] books incessantly’ – Philip Melanchthon (1539)

‘the most famous philosopher, rhetorician and poet of his time…gifted with a keen mind and with great eloquence’ – Johannes Trithemius, De scriptoribus ecclesiasticis (1494).

[Quotations from Fokke Akkerman ed., Rudolph Agricola: Six Lives and Erasmus’s Testimonies (Royal Van Gorcum, 2012)]