The arts under François I

In the late 1510s, a few scholars connected with the French court, including Guillaume Budé, Guillaume Cop, and bishops Étienne Poncher and Guillaume Petit suggested to François I that he establish a "Collège de Lecteurs Royaux", where Latin, Greek and Hebrew would be taught.

The foundation of such an establishment was seen as a challenge to the University, which continued to refuse to offer courses in Greek and Hebrew, which they thought might encourage personal interpretations of Biblical texts.

The foundation of the Collège des Lecteurs Royaux heralded the arrival of a genuine cultural policy.

In 1530, the first four royal lecturers were appointed: Pierre Danès and Jacques Toussain for Greek, and Agathe Guidacerius and François Vatable for Hebrew. The College – predecessor of the current Collège de France – became a training ground for humanists independent of the University. Its resources were nevertheless limited: it had no fixed premises and, although the lecturers were theoretically paid, the royal treasury was often several months behind in paying their wages.

The foundation of the Collège heralded the arrival of the institutionalisation of culture, a process that also included typography. The office of imprimeur du roi ("printer to the king") was created in 1531, and was first given to Geoffroy Tory. In 1539, the office was limited to printing texts in French, when François I decided to create another royal position for printing Greek. The printer chosen for this office was paid well (one hundred gold écus annually) and was given royal protection: each publication had exclusivity for a period of five years. Conrad Néobar was the first royal printer for Greek, but he died in 1540 and was replaced by Robert Estienne. Pierre Duchâtel commissioned Claude Garamont to create three sizes of a caractères grecs cursifs cursive Greek font for the exclusive use of the imprimeurs du roi.

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