Robert Estienne (1503-1559)

Robert Estienne was born in a well-known family of Parisian typographers who were in touch with humanistic circles all over Europe.

A famous printer

  • Robert Estienne (1503-1559)

Robert Estienne soon adhered to the ideas of the Reformation. He was rapidly suspected of heresy and had to face threats from the Sorbonne faculty reproaching him his printing the Biblical texts in their original languages or in their translated versions and thereby making them available to the masses. In 1550, after a twenty-year-long struggle, he fled from Paris to settle in Geneva where he could freely confess his faith and carry on as a printer.

Under the emblem of the olive tree

  • Robert Estienne, printer's mark, 16th century © Collection privée

Robert Estienne became one of the main actors of the golden age of Reformed printers in Geneva. He published, amongst other works and under the emblem of L’Olivier :

  • theological works, such as Calvin’s L’Institution chrétienne,
  • non-religious works by Greek and Latin authors,
  • teaching documents and dictionaries, the most famous of which was his vast Thesaurus latinae linguae, begun in 1528 and finally edited in 1543.

Associated notes

  • 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.
  • 16th century translations of the Bible into Latin and French

    During the 16th century, numerous translations of the Bible were made into Latin and French.
  • Agrippa d'Aubigné (1552-1630)

    A soldier and Protestant writer, he first took part in the wars of religion with Henri de Navarre and later told of the sufferings endured by the Protestants in his work...
  • Ambroise Paré (1509-1590)

    Initially an army surgeon, he made discoveries in such fields as anatomy, physiology and therapeutics.
  • Olivétan (1506-1538)

    Olivétan is well-known for his French translation of the Bible, referred to as Olivétan’s Bible. It was the first Bible ever to be translated into French from the original Hebrew...
  • Sully (1559-1641)

    Maximilien de Béthune, Baron of Rosny and Duke of Sully, became a close companion of Henri de Navarre at a very early age. He became his most valuable adviser and his government...