Robert III

Robert III Estienne (1560-1630), Paris 1606-30

Robert III was the son of Robert II. He had been too young to succeed his father when he passed away in 1570 and in the meantime his step-father, Mamert Patisson, took charge of it. Robert’s education was undertaken by the French poet, Philipe Desportes (1546-1606) and this may have played a role in encouraging him to become a poet as well as a printer. Once Robert III took over the family firm he continued producing works of high quality though these did not have the same impact as those of some of his relations.[1]

 Phaedri Avg. Liberti Fabvlarvm Aesopiarvm libri V. Nova editio (Paris, 1617), title page, device 27.

In 1624, he printed a missing translation of Aristotle’s Rhetoric in which his address was specifically written (‘Rue St-Jean-de-Beauvais’) but in most of his work, he re-uses the traditional formula of his family ‘Oliva Rob. Steph.’ that is on the above title page. This book, his edition of the Fables of Aesop in Latin verse, was by Phaedrus, a former slave who lived during the reign of Tiberius (d. 37). Robert III published the second edition of the version edited by the French classical scholar Nicolas Rigault (1577-1654). He may have been attracted to the text since Phaedrus rendered the text in verse. One of his own poems is included in Worth’s edition of the works of the famous French poet Pierre de Ronsard (1524-85), printed at Paris by Nicolas Buon. Robert III is the last of the Estiennes to be represented in Worth’s collection. Schreiber notes that, following his death, the printer Jacques Dugast bought his stock and trademark.[2]


Bernard, Auguste, Les Estienne et les types grecs de François Ier, complément des annales stéphaniens (Paris, 1856).

Didot, Ambroise Firmin, ‘Les Estienne. Henri I, François I et II, Robert I, II et III, Henri II, Paul et Antoine…’, Nouvelle bibliographie générale, (Paris, 1856; Copenhagen, 1965 reprint), vol. 15-16, pp 479-482.

Greswell, William Henry Parr, A View of the Early Parisian Greek Press; Including the Lives of the Stephani; Notices of Other Contemporary Greek Printers of Paris (Oxford, 1840).

Renouard, Antoine, Annales de l’imprimerie des Estienne (Geneva, 1971 reprint).

Schreiber, Fred, The Estiennes. An annotated catalogue of 300 highlights of their various presses (New York, 1982).



[1] Schrieber states that ‘It is believed that … he merely lent the use of his famous name to various printers active at the sign of the Olive Tree’: Schreiber, Fred, The Estiennes. An annotated catalogue of 300 highlights of their various presses (New York, 1982), p. 223.

[2] Ibid.