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Commerce, Books, And Decrees

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Chapter Summary

Writing from Louvain in late February 1520 northern Europe’s foremost man of letters, Desiderius Erasmus, complained at length about a recently published critique of his New Testament translation. He addressed his letter to Wolfgang Capito in Basel, several hundred kilometres away. The offending tome was authored by an Englishman, Edward Lee, and printed at the press of Gilles de Gourmont in Paris. Erasmus had anticipated its publication for some time. The most vibrant and cosmopolitan trading centre in northern Europe was Antwerp: maritime gateway, emporium, and distribution conduit for continental commerce. While Parisian printers were disinclined to issue reform-related texts, several in the Low Countries did not hesitate. They faced antiheresy decrees that were stern and pervasive, however they worked in a land where several legal jurisdictions appeared to overlap. Within the Habsburg Low Countries the ecclesiastical hierarchy was by the 1520s very much a branch of the state apparatus.

Keywords: commerce; decrees; Desiderius Erasmus; legal jurisdictions; Low Countries; New Testament translation; northern Europe



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