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Estienne, Charles [Carolus Stephanus]

1. Dates
Born: Paris?, c. 1505
Died: 1564
Dateinfo: Birth Uncertain
Lifespan: 59
2. Father
Occupation: Pub
Estienne belonged to the famous dynasty of Parisian printers and publishers. His father, Henri Estienne, the elder, died in 1520, and his widow married another prominent printer. Charles, the third son, initially sought an independent career.
Certainly affluent.
3. Nationality
Birth: French
Career: French
Death: French
4. Education
Schooling: Padua; Paris, M.D.
After learning Greek under Jean Lascaris, he studied philosophy, botany, and medicine at the University of Padua from 1530 to 1534. His teacher in medicine was Francesco Frizimelega. Having returned to Paris, he studied anatomy and medicine at the Collège Tricquet under Jacbous Sylvius. Later he studied medecine but without being formally registered at the Faculté de Médecin, and received M.B. in 1540, docteur regent in 1542. I certainly assume a B.A. or its equivalent in this.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
I assume Catholicism because Charles' brother fled Paris and had his assets seized for religious reasons, while Charles remained immune and was even able to recover some of the assets.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Anatomy, Botany
Subordinate: Medicine
He published Anatomia, a short treatise, in 1536, and his main anatomical work, De dissectione, in Latin in 1545, and in French in 1546. His many original observations included the morphology and physiological significance of the "feeding holes" of bones, the cartaliginous meniscus of the temporomandibular joint, the valvulae in the hepatic veins, and the scrotal septum.
Among his several treatises on gardening and the names of plants and birds, De re hortensi libellus (1535) and Seminarium (1536) were favorably received and republished. He published other works on botany.
He published a book on medicine, derivative from Galen, in 1550.
As a publisher, he printed mostly dictionaries, grammars, and classical literature, but only one real scientific book, by Pierre Belon.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Medicine, Publishing
Secondary: Academia
1541-4, very little is known, though he translated some literary works.
1544-1547, taught anatomy at the Faculté de Médecin in Paris.
1542-1550, medical practice in Paris.
1550-1562, when his brother fled Paris for Geneva, Charles managed the family business as a publisher. In 1557, financial troubles set in when he was caught with books that he could not sell.
1661-1564, imprisoned.
8. Patronage
Types: Government Official, Court Official, Eccesiastic Official
J.J. de Mesmes, Lieutenant-Civil de la Prévote de Paris, and later Maitre de requetes and later still president of the Parlement in Rouen. Estienne dedicated books to him in 1536 and 1544.
In 1538-40 he tutored the bastard son of Lazarre de Baif, and accompanied Baif, a representative of Charles V, on a legation to Germany and Italy.
Estienne Tournebulle, president of the Parlement in Rouen, to whom Estienne dedicated a book as thanks for a stay at his estate in 1543.
Guillaume de Bailly, the Royal Inquisitor, is named as a patron.
In 1551, Estienne was named royal printer by Henri II, to whom he dedicated one or two books.
Cardinal Charles de Lorraine who obtained Estienne's ten year privilege for his collected works and to whom Estienne dedicated two books.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Medical Practice
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
  1. E. Lau. Charles Estienne, (Wertheim, 1930).
  2. Dictionnaire de biographie française, 13, 95-6.
  3. Not consulted: R.Herrlinger, "Carolus Stephanus and Stephanus Riverius", Clio medica, 2 (1967), pp.275-287. R131 .A1 C64 G. Rath, "Charles Estienne, Anatom in Schatten Vesals", Sudhoff Archiv fur Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften, 39 (1955), pp.35-43.
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

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©1995 Al Van Helden
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