Enchiridion militis Christiani

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The Enchiridion militis Christiani is an early work by the humanist Erasmus von Rotterdam from 1503 . This is a small manual (Latin enchiridion; Greek ἐγχειρίδιον encheiridion , "something that you hold in your hand") with instructions on how to behave as a Christian knight.

After his stay in England from 1499 and exchanges with humanists such as John Colet , Erasmus traveled back to the Netherlands via Dover in the spring of 1501 . There this work was written in 1503 as a guide to a more pious life, after the wife of a German gun founder asked to purify her husband, who was arrested in worldly matters. The book consists of around 100 pages and was printed around 85 times in the first half of the 16th century.

Johannes Adelphus translated it into German as early as 1520: Enchiridion or handbũchlin eins Christenlichē and Ritterlichen Leben.


The text is characterized by a Neoplatonic anthropology . All people and also the outside world are divided into two parts. The confrontation with the carnal self on the one hand, as well as with the godless, superstitious practices such as the worship of relics on the other hand should be conducted bravely and confidently. True following of Christ means internalizing the gentle virtues such as humility , mildness, selflessness , mercy and love of one's enemies . The believer shows his piety by realizing this in his daily life. It is not about piecemeal work, but rather the implementation of a Christian life based on an inner conviction, instead of the religious practices customary at this time to merely reduce the guilt of sin or the duration of the time in purgatory of the deceased. In his writing Erasmus does not distinguish between lay people and clergy . A life in following Christ is not only prescribed for monks or priests, but for all people. The entire text is written in the imagery of the fighter, so he describes the scriptures and prayer as the weapons of the Christian knight.


  1. Duden online: Enchiridion
  2. ^ Bainton, Roland H .: Erasmus. Reformer between the fronts 1972 Göttingen
  3. ^ Van der Haegen, Ferdinand: Bibliotheca Erasmiana: Répertoire des oeuvres d'Erasme. Nieuwkoop 1961, pp. 79-84.
  4. Bezzel, Irmgard: Erasmus prints of the 16th century in Bavarian libraries. A bibliographic directory. Stuttgart 1979. pp. 255-277.

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