Promoting the French language

The French Renaissance was not simply a matter of importing classical and Italian culture into the kingdom of France. French scholars took an active role in the rival of knowledge, and helped to create an original culture.

The foundation of the Collège des Lecteurs Royaux attested to François I's desire for a genuine cultural policy to boost France's prestige in the eyes of Europe. It was in this spirit that the king financed a great many translations prepared by humanists in the court and printed by the major Parisian booksellers. Jacques Colin, lecteur du roi, published Claude de Seyssel's French translations of Thucydides, Diodorus Siculus, and Eusebius of Caesarea. Similarly, Étienne Le Blanc, conseiller, and Antoine Macault, valet de chambre du roi, provided François I with translations of Cicero and Diodorus Siculus, respectively.

The translation of French texts is indicative of the desire to found a French-language-based culture.

This translation movement was indicative of an increasing desire by French scholars to free themselves from classical and Italian literary models and found a culture based on their language. In 1529, in his Champ Fleury, Geoffroy Tory praised the excellence of French, calling it "one of the most beautiful and graceful of all human tongues".

His claim found an echo in the creation of original literary works, such as Clément Marot's L'adolescence clémentine, published in 1532, wich began with French translations of texts by Virgil and by the Italian humanist Philippo Beroaldo the Elder, and above all among La Pléiade, a group of Renaissance poets, one of whose members, Joachim Du Bellay, published Défense et Illustration de la langue française, (Defence and Illustration of the French Language), a manifesto calling for the enrichment of French language and culture.

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