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Henri Estienne (elder)

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Henri Estienne (elder)

Henri Estienne, also known as Henricus Stephanus, was a 16th-century Parisian printer. He was born in Paris in 1470 and began as a bookseller in Paris from 1502 to 1520, though his father was not in favour of this enterprise. He began to print probably in 1505. In this year he issued the Abrégé de l'Arithmétique of Boethius, the first work he is known to have printed. His studio is established in the streets of the Law School. Estienne used the mark of the old weapons of the University, a shield charged with three Fleurs de Lis, with a hand emerging from a cloud and holding a closed book. [1] His motto was: More olei quam vini (more oil than wine). He was on friendly terms with some of the most learned men of the day, Guillaume Budé, Guillaume Briçonnet, and Jacobus Faber Stapulensis, and had among his proof-readers Beatus Rhenanus.

Henri was careful not to issue books containing printing errors. If errors were discovered too late he issued errata sheets, a practice unknown to his contemporaries. He died at Paris, not at Lyon, as has been stated by many writers. The date is thought to be 24 July 1520 but is hardly likely to match exactly the date of his last printed book.


Among his publications were the editions of Aristotle, and the Psalterium quincuplex, of Lefèvre d'Estaples, 1509 & 1515, and his commentary on the Pauline Epistles. Also the Itinerarium of Antoninus, 1512; Guillaume Mara, De Tribus, fagiendis, etc.


Henry left three sons, François, Robert, and Charles. François Estienne (1502-1553) published a number of works which had no bearing upon theology. His few impressions, chiefly issues of the classics, were all in Latin except Psalterium and a Horae Virginis in Greek. His widow married Simon de Colines, his assistant in Paris, and also a remarkable printer of the 16th century.


  1. ^ H. Harrisse, Discovery and development map of New found land and surrounding countries, 1497-1501-1769
  • Schreiber, Fred. The Estiennes: an annotated catalogue of 300 highlights of their various presses (New York: E. K. Schreiber, c1982).
  • "Henri Estienne", in Louis-Gabriel Michaud, Biographie universelle ancienne et moderne : histoire par ordre alphabétique de la vie publique et privée de tous les hommes avec la collaboration de plus de 300 savants et littérateurs français ou étrangers, 2nd edition, 1843–1865
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