Northern European humanism

The form of 'humanism' which proved to be of especial importance theologically is primarily northern European humanism rather than Italian humanism. We must therefore consider what form this northern European movement took, and how it developed. It is becoming increasingly clear that northern European humanism was decisively influenced by Italian humanism at every stage of its development.

Although there are major variations within northern European humanism, two ideals seem to have achieved widespread acceptance throughout the movement. First, we find the same concern for bonae litterae—written and spoken eloquence, after the fashion of the classical period—as in the Italian Reformation. Second, we find a religious programme directed towards the corporate revival of the Christian Church. The Latin slogan Christianismus renascens, 'Christianity being born again', summarizes the aims of this programme, and indicates its relation to the 'rebirth' of letters associated with the Renaissance.

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