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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 ...

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More, Sir Thomas [St Thomas More] (1478–1535), lord chancellor, humanist, and martyr, was born, most scholars agree, between two and three in the morning of 6 February 1478 (alternative dates are 7 February, 1477 or 1478) in Milk Street, Cheapside, London, the eldest of three sons and second of seven children of ...

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Sir Thomas More (1478–1535) by Hans Holbein the younger, 1527 © The Frick Collection, New York

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Reid, Robert (d. 1558), Scottish Renaissance humanist, abbot of Kinloss, and Roman Catholic bishop of Orkney, was born at Aitkenhead in Clackmannan parish, son of John Reid of Aitkenhead, who was killed at Flodden in 1513, and Elizabeth Shanwell, sister of John, abbot of ...