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Open Access Introduction

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Chapter Summary

Thomas Erastus was arguably the most important reformed natural philosopher of the late sixteenth century. The chief goal of this chapter is to present a coherent narrative of Erastus's life and work during his time in Heidelberg; how Erastus shaped the Heidelberg Reformation and the history of the German Reformed movement, and how his own work was in turn influenced by his times, struggles, enemies, and friends. The chapter focuses on the years from 1558 to 1580 when Erastus was a member of the faculty of the University of Heidelberg. The narrative that his surviving letters tell is primarily of an ecclesio-political struggle in Heidelberg. The chapter crosses disciplinary boundaries and turns over new ground, particularly in the setting of Erastus's anti-Paracelsianism and his controversy with Johann Weyer over the punishment of witches.

Keywords: sixteenth century; Thomas Erastus; University of Heidelberg



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