- Agrícola, Rudolf
- (Latinized name Roelof Huisman, 1444-1485)Frisian humanist. The illegitimate son of a clergyman, he received an excellent grammatical education at Groningen and then studied at the universities of Erfurt, Cologne, and Louvain, taking the M.A. degree in 1465 at Louvain, where he began the study of law and became interested in Italian humanism. He was also a talented musical performer and composer. In 1469 he continued his study of law at Pavia in Italy but soon shifted his interest to humanism (studia humanitatis). In 1475-1479 he was employed as an organist by the duke of Ferrara. Ferrara was a major center of humanistic education, and Agrícola studied Greek there. He moved back to Germany in 1479, living first at Dillingen, where he completed his major work, De inventione dialectica / On Dialectical Invention (not published until 1515). In 1480 he became secretary to the city council of Groningen, but he found both his official duties and the intellectual climate unsatisfying.In 1482 Agricola accepted the patronage of Johann von Dalberg, bishop of Worms, adviser to the Elector of the Palatinate, and chancellor of the University of Heidelberg. Although linked more closely to the electoral court than to the university, he participated actively in local intellectual life and began the study of Hebrew. In 1485, returning from a diplomatic mission to Rome, he fell ill and died. Though his major work remained unpublished until 1515, he left behind a great reputation among German humanists. His De inventione dialéctica became the central text in humanistic reform of the study of dialectic from the time of its publication, and most of the textbooks used for the study of dialectic after the humanists became able to push through reforms of the university curriculum were derived from it. Agricola also published an influential life of the Italian humanist Petrarch and a work upholding the value of education in the humanities. He was admired by the humanists of the generation of Erasmus, who recalled briefly meeting him while still a schoolboy in Deventer.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.