- Hegius, Alexander
- (ca. 1433-1498)German humanist and schoolmaster, a leader in the introduction of humanistic subjects into the curriculum of the Latin grammar-schools of northwestern Europe. Nothing is known of his early life other than his birth at Heek in Westphalia, but at some point in his career he studied with Thomas à Kempis, probable author of the famous devotional book The Imitation of Christ. After teaching at Wesel (1469-1474) and at Emmerich, where he studied Greek with his friend Rudolf Agricola, about 1483 Hegius became headmaster of the highly regarded chapter-school of St. Lebwin's church at Deventer. His most famous pupil there was the young Erasmus of Rotterdam, though it is unlikely that a pupil so young as Erasmus had much direct instruction from the headmaster. Hegius also taught many other well-known German and Dutch humanists, including Johannes Murmellius, Gerard Geldenhouwer, Ortwin Gratius, Johann Butzbach, and Hermann von dem Busche. Although he was personally close to the spiritual movement known as Devotio Moderna and to the local community of the Brethren of the Common Life, he remained a layman until near the end of his life.By later standards Hegius would be regarded as a very conservative educational reformer, but he was critical of the complex medieval handbooks on logic that most humanists disdained. He collaborated with one of his assistants to produce a commentary on the traditional textbook of Latin grammar, the Doctrinale of Alexander de Villa Dei, attempting to make the old book more effective in the classroom. Hegius also produced a collection of poems and several other short Latin works, most of which were published shortly after his death.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.