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Desiderius Erasmus (c. 1467–1536) by Hans Holbein the younger, 1523 private collection. Photograph: Photographic Survey, Courtauld Institute of Art, London

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Erasmus, Desiderius (c. 1467–1536), humanist scholar and reformer, was born in Rotterdam during the night of 27–28 October in the late 1460s—a year about 1467 seems plausible. He was illegitimate, a circumstance that doubtless contributed to the uncertainty attending all record of his origins, family name, and early life. The source of much information is the ...