Humanists (from the Latin litrae humanores, polite letters) was the name assumed in the beginning of the 16th century by a party which, with Erasmus and Reuchlin at their head, was especially devoted to the cultivation of classical literature, and which, as not infrequently happens in the enthusiasm of a new pursuit, was arrayed in opposition to the received system of the schools, not alone in the study of the classical languages, but even in philosophy, and eventually in theology. See Chambers, Cyclop. vol. 5.; Gieseler, Ch. Hist. 3, 406 sq.; Kurtz, Ch. Hist. 2, 35, 127.