History and Education of a Prince

“It is not enough just to hand out precepts to restrain the prince from vices or to incite him to a better course—they must be impressed, crammed in, inculcated, and in one way and another be kept before him, now by a suggestive thought, now by a fable, now by analogy, now by example, now by maxims, now by a proverb. They should be engraved on rings, painted in pictures, appended to the wreaths of honor, and, by using any other means by which that age can be interested, kept always before him.  The  deeds of famous men fire the minds of noble youths, but the opinions with which they become imbued is a matter of far greater importance, for from these sources the whole scheme of life is developed.”  Desiderius Erasmus, The Education of a Christian Prince, trans. Lester K. Born. (New York: Columbia, 1936), pp. 144-145. [Emphasis added]

Desiderius Erasmus, the great writer of the Northern Renaissance in the early sixteenth century, dedicated this work to Prince Charles who became king of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor.  Erasmus presented an idealistic notion of Christian prince based upon Christian and classical sources.


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