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