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Rudolf Agricola School

About us

Who was Rudolf Agricola?

Rudolf Agricola (1444-1485)
Rudolf Agricola (1444-1485)
'The most important thing is (…) to come up with something new and leave it for others, creativity, because otherwise we are no more than a book that holds things.' (Rudolf Agricola)

Who is our institute named after?

Rudolf Agricola (1444-1485) was a Dutch humanist, philosopher, and philologist. He was one of the most important figures of the Northern Renaissance. He is also considered one of the most important figures in the history of Groningen and is known for his contributions to the study of classical languages and literature and for promoting the study of classical culture in the Netherlands.

Agricola was born in Baflo, a small village in the province of Groningen, Netherlands. He studied in Erfurt, Cologne, Leuven, Pavia, and Ferrara. He excelled in the study of classical languages and literature, was an exceptional orator, and was also a good singer, organist and enthusiastic boxer.

In 1479 Agricola returned to the city of Groningen, where he became secretary of the city counsel. However, he continued to travel a lot, which shows that the world of scientists in his time was just as international as our Agricola School is today. During the winter of 1481/1482, for example, he was the representative of the city of Groningen at the court of Emperor Maximillian I. After a trip to Rome, he died in 1485 in Heidelberg.

Inspiration for Erasmus

Somewhere during his time in Groningen, Erasmus attended a lecture by Agricola in Deventer, which he later described as one of the highlights of his life. It was Agricola who inspired him to focus on the study of the original languages of the Bible, and with which Erasmus became the most famous European scholar of his time.

Agricola's work had a great impact on the study of classical languages and literature in the Netherlands. He wrote several important works on the subject. He translated numerous Greek works into Latin. He was one of the first people north of the Alps to master ancient Greek. He also promoted the study of ancient Hebrew, Greek, and Latin culture. His magnum opus, the De inventione dialectica (On Dialectical Invention, 1479) was printed in three parts in 1539. This book marks a break with medieval reasoning and is one of the first and most important theoretical contributions to the argumentation theory of the humanists. How can you reason meaningfully? How can you set out the pros and cons and weigh the evidence? How can you come to practical advice / conclusion? These are questions that the Agricola School still asks today.

Scientific group

In addition to his scientific contributions, Agricola also played an important role in the cultural and intellectual life of Groningen. He was a member of the Aduader Kring, a group of humanistic scholars and artists who were active in Groningen, and helped establish the city as a center of classical science and learning. As the Agricola School, we also form a circle of scientists: we organize meetings, symposia, webinars, research meet-ups, and more.

Due to his contributions to culture, education, and science of his time, Rudolf Agricola is considered one of the most important figures in the history of Groningen and his name is still remembered in the province with various monuments, streets and buildings named after him.

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The portrait of Rudolf Agricola occupies a central place in the historical exhibition of the Groninger Museum. Photo: Marco in 't Veldt
Last modified:07 February 2023 2.59 p.m.
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