JEAIL > Volume 2(2); 2009 > Articles
Research Paper
Published online: November 30, 2009

Erasmus: The 16th Century's Pioneer of Peace Education and a Culture of Peace

Peter van den Dungen
University of Bradford, U.K.
Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford, Bradford BD7 1DP, UK
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ⓒ Copyright YIJUN Institute of International Law
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


More than a century before Grotius wrote his famous work on international law, his countryman Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam laid the foundations for the modern critique of war. In several writings, especially those published in the period 1515-1517, the "prince of humanists" brilliantly and devastatingly condemned war not only on Christian but also on secular/rational grounds. His graphic depiction of the miseries of war, together with his impassionate plea for its avoidance, remains unparalleled. Erasmus argued as a moralist and educator rather than as a political theorist or statesman. If any single individual in the modern world can be credited with "the invention of peace," the honour belongs to Erasmus rather than Kant whose essay on perpetual peace was published nearly three centuries later.

Keywords : Erasmus, Kant, "invention of peace," Bellum, Education of a Christian Prince, Complaint of Peace

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