Erasmus enabled Catholics

< Previous | Next >


Senior Member
"Writing as a Catholic, but sounding very much like a Lutheran, Erasmus implored his readers to ‘rediscover a truly Christian spirit and then, if required, march against the flesh‑and‑blood Turk’. Christianity needed reformation, but it also needed unification, otherwise the Turk buried within the heart of all believers, be they Catholic or Lutheran, would triumph. Trying to please both sides of a divided Christendom, Erasmus enabled Catholics to castigate Protestants as akin to Turks (meaning all Muslims) for dividing the faith, while also enabling Protestants to condemn Catholics as the worst representatives of ‘Turkish’ avarice and impiety." (Jerry Brotton, This Orient Isle- Elizabethan England and the Islamic World)

What does "enable" mean here?
  • grassy

    Senior Member
    But, the Newt, Erasmus could not be the one who made all this possible.
    You're underestimating the power of writing!

    I take it to mean that he wrote good and bad things about both Catholics and Protestants in order to please both sides.


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I'm not acquainted with the arguments, but it looks to me as though Erasmus unwittingly enabled the Protestants and Catholics to accuse each other. He was trying to get divided Christianity to unite, but instead of taking his criticism to heart both sides turned his arguments against the opposite faction.


    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Note that we are not talking about enabling Catholics and Protestants to castigate each other generally, but instead to do so using this very specific comparison of unsatisfactory Christians to Turks that was created by Erasmus.


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Yes, that's how I understand it from that passage: 'enabled' is a positive word, normally, but it has a negative connotation here. Erasmus said 'march against the Turk', and the Catholics thought, well, those damned Protestants are as bad as Turks, let's march against them.
    < Previous | Next >