Niccolò Machiavelli and Desiderius Erasmus: Two Styles of Humanism

Essay by zitzitCollege, UndergraduateA, July 2009

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Machiavelli and Erasmus were both humanists, but had very different points of view. Machiavelli whose writing was from the Italian humanist's view, when Erasmus wrote from the points of view of Christian humanist in Europe may be one of reasons for huge differences in Machiavelli's and Erasmus' thoughts. However, these two styles of humanism provided us means to "generalize about the meaning of the Renaissance."(303).

According to Lawrence in his book Culture and Values A Survey of the Humanities, Machiavelli "sees Christianity's role in politics as a disaster that destroys the power of the state to govern."(302). In other words, the Church interfered deeply in everything, especially in state management. A good example of this is Henry VIII, who ruled England from 1509 to 1547 and remains one of English most famous and controversial king because of his divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Henry VIII wanted to divorce from Catherine that followed by marriage to Anne Boleyn.

But, the Church of Rome did not allow him to do what he had wanted for so long, about six years. In 1534, Henry VIII broke with the Church of Rome over his divorce, found his own church and made himself Head of the Church of England. Clearly, Henry VIII who was a king of England, had no ability of divorcing his wife without the Church of Rome's sanction unless he cut off all the connections from Rome. That is to say that the Church had an immense large religious influence on much of the power of a state to govern, in other words, politics. From Machiavelli's point of view, "the state needs to restrict the power of the Church, allowing it to exercise is office only in the spiritual realm."(302). I strongly agree with Machiavelli that...