Hutten’s Final Reckoning With Erasmus - A copy once owned by Hutten’s Friend

Hutten, Ulrich von (1488-1523)

Ulrichi ab Hutten cum Erasmo Roterodamo, presbytero, theologo, expostulatio.

Strasbourg: J. Schott, 1523


Quarto: [70] p. A-I4 (complete with final blank.)


A fine, broad copy in 19th-century marbled boards. With the possession note (partly snipped away) of Hutten’s friend, the Erfurt humanist Petreius Aperbach [Eberbach] (ca. 1480-1531), who was a member of Joachim Vadianus’ circle at Vienna.This is the sole edition with the medallion portraits of Hutten and Erasmus and a third with Melanchthon and Luther (whose faces are both intentionally all but obscured by shadow by the artist.)

In the ‘Expostulatio’, Hutten expressed his indignation at Erasmus’ refusal to receive him in Basel, and to stand by his Lutheran convictions against the hostile Basel City Council. The “Spongia” was Erasmus’ answer to Hutten’s reproaches.

“Their mutual accusations document the breakdown of their friendship as well as the fundamental misunderstandings that governed their relationship from the beginning. They had never assessed correctly one another’s personalities, aims, and motives. Hutten saw only cowardice and hypocrisy in Erasmus’ efforts to remain neutral for the sake of reason and peace, while Erasmus considered Hutten’s determination and ensuing actions as a betrayal of the ideals of humanism. 

"The misunderstanding is not only based on a clash of personalities, however; Hutten’s ‘Expostulatio’ and ‘Spongia’ are valuable documents of intellectual history. With the question of right and wrong no longer of importance, they are significant as the expressions of opposing points of view, of two different directions in the development of humanism that were bound to clash at a certain point in history – the onset of the Reformation.”(Barbara Könneker, Contemporaries of Erasmus)

"The quarrel between Erasmus and Ulrich von Hutten, his erstwhile admirer and devoted disciple, was the tragic culmination of a friendship of some nine years duration and resulted primarily (and one feels compelled to add, inevitably) from the fusion of specific external events and the temperaments and inner dispositions of the two individuals involved. 

"Hutten saw in Erasmus not the scholar and the humanist but rather a polemical spirit and the opponent of the same hated enemies against whom he himself fought. [Whereas] Erasmus eulogized Hutten as a mind great enough to accomplish for his countrymen what the aristocracy there could or would not do because of their penchant for war."(Randolph J. Klawiter, "Polemics of Erasmus of Rotterdam and Ulrich von Hutten")

VD 16 H 6313; Benzing 186