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Ioannes Sartorius (ca. 1500-1557), Gymnasiarch Te Amsterdam En Noordwijk, Als Erasmiaan En Spiritualist*

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image of Nederlands Archief voor Kerkgeschiedenis / Dutch Review of Church History
For more content, see Church History and Religious Culture.

The identity of Joannes Sartorius has long been a subject of controversy. As the old bio-bibliographies disagree about the year of his death (the dates range from 1557 to 1575), Henry de Vocht suggested that there might have been two Sartorii: 1. a humanist ludimagister (died 1557), the author of books on Latin grammar and style, the translator of Erasmus' Adagia into Dutch; 2. a protestant zealot (died after 1557), who in writing his heretical works may even have hidden behind the name of the respectable ludimagister. This assumption, however, is connected with De Vocht's anti-protestant bias, which kept him from accepting that humanist and protestant tendencies could coexist in one person (as in e.g. Sartorius' friend Gnapheus, author of the Acolastus). Nevertheless, the outline of the life and works of Sartorius, the heretical ludimagister, could not have been written without De Vocht's numerous and thorough publications. Sartorius worked as a teacher of Latin in Amsterdam and Noordwijk. He is certain to have stayed in Emden and is said to have lived in Basle. His religious convictions got him into trouble several times. Unfortunately, the precise course of Sartorius' life is not yet clear and the greater part of his writings seems to have been lost. The only works we have at our disposal are: 1. a grammar (editio princeps 1533, written ca. 1527); 2. a syntax (ed. pr. 1530, written ca. 1528); 3. Selectissimarum orationum germanice redditarum ... exereitus (ed. pr. ca. 1540), a work on Latin expressions with their Dutch translations; 4. The Adagia, a rich collection of some 3000 proverbs, taken from Erasmus, with their Dutch equivalents added. The Adagia were published posthumously in 1561. In 1530, Sartorius had already published about 300 adages (Latin and Dutch) in an appendix to his syntax. Sartorius was interested in Dutch proverbs and phrases both as an aid in teaching Latin and for their own sake. 5. Paraphrases on the Major and Minor prophets, as well as Sapientia Salomonis (finished 1553, published 1558 in Basle). In this work, Sartorius proves himself a pronounced spiritualist rather than an Erasmian. He must have been familiar with the work of Sebastian Franck. Undoubtedly, he had read at least Franck's Verbutschiert Buch (1539) and his Sechshundert Dreyzehn Gebot und Verpot der Juden (1537). Already in the Exercitus traces of Franck's influence may be detected. There is, incidentally, little other evidence of such influence in the Netherlands in the first half of the 16th century.


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