Guillaume Du Bartas (1544-1590)

Du Bartas was a diplomat, a poet, and a fervent Calvinist.

A diplomat and a learned poet

Guillaume de Salluste, lord Du Bartas, was born at Montfort near Auch in 1544.

He became a doctor in law in 1567 and was a gentleman to king Henri de Navarre’s chamber , Henri IV to be, as early as 1585. He was sent on various diplomatic missions by the king, notably to James VI of Scotland in 1587.

He took part in the wars of religion, and was wounded during the Ivry battle in 1590.

His major work Semaine ou création du Monde (A week or the creation of the World) was published in 1578 and earned him immediate fame. It was a splendid saga in alexandrines telling the story of the creation of the world based on the Genesis.

His account of the first seven days of the world was fraught with stories from the Bible, but also with the latest scientific findings. His outstanding erudition enabled him to present a complete inventory of Renaissance period knowledge.

Two lines from the Semaine ou création du Monde (book I, lines 83 and 84) could be considered as Du Bartas’s motto :

« Ains costoye la rive ayans la Foy pour voile,
l’Esprit saint pour nocher, la Bible pour estoile. »

(Thus I fare, faith is the sail,
the Spirit is the pilot, the Bible is a star)


  • Books
    • Héroïsme et démesure dans la littérature de la Renaissance : les avatars de l’épopée, Publications de l'Université de Saint-Étienne, Saint-Étienne, 1998
    • BELLENGER Yvonne, Du Bartas et ses divines Semaines, SEDES, Paris, 1993
    • DAUPHINE James (études réunies et publiées par), Guillaume Salluste Du Bartas, 1590-1990, Actes du Colloque international d'Auch-Le Bartas-Pau (6-8 avril 1990), Eurédit, Paris, 1992
    • DU BARTAS Guillaume, La Semaine ou création du monde, Actes Sud, Arles, 1988
    • HEATHER Noël, Du Bartas, French Huguenot poet and his humorous ambivalence, Edwin Mellen Press, New York, 1998
    • MIERNOWSKI Jan, Dialectique et connaissance dans la Semaine de Du Bartas, Droz, Genève, 1992
    • PELLISIER Georges, La vie et les œuvres de Du Bartas, Slatkine, Genève, 1969
    • PRIEUR Michel, Le monde et l’homme de Du Bartas, SEDES, Paris, 1993
  • Articles
    • HEATHER Noël, "Mesure et démesure, de l’Eden de Du Bartas au paradis de Milton", Ouvrage entier, Héroïsme et démesure dans la littérature de la Renaissance : les avatars de l'épopée, Saint-Etienne, 1998, p. 302-324

Associated notes

  • Clément Marot (1496-1544)

    The famous 16th century French poet put into verse the biblical Psalms that were to be sung all over France and become the well-known Huguenot Psalter.
  • Jean Calvin (1509-1564)

    A generation after Luther, the Frenchman Jean Calvin became the organiser of the Reformation : he organised the Church, shaped the doctrine and defined the role of the Church in state government.
  • Jean de Sponde (1557-1595)

    Jean de Sponde was a politician and a well-known baroque poet. His entire life was influenced by the wars of religion : « Je sens dedans mon âme une guerre civile ». (I...
  • The eight wars of religion (1562-1598)

    In the 16th Century, France was to know a religious split : the great majority of the country remained faithful to Catholicism, whilst an important majority joined the Reformation. Coexistence of...