Estienne's 1550 edition of the New Testament was typeset with Garamond's grecs du roi.[1]

Les grecs du roi are a celebrated Greek typeface designed by Claude Garamond in 1541 and containing a very large number of ligatures.

The grecs du roi were ordered by Robert Estienne on behalf of King Francis I of France. The design was based on the handwriting of the Cretan copyist Angelo Vergecio, and include a vast variety of alternate letters and ligatures to achieve this.[2][3][4][5] Arthur Tilley calls the resulting books "among the most finished specimens of typography that exist".[6]

Garamond's original punches for the Grecs du roi type, which remain the property of the French government.

The grecs du roi design placed significant demands on printers, since it requires manual choice of the many alternate characters for every word, in contrast to Latin-alphabet general-purpose typefaces which do not attempt to simulate handwriting as closely. As a result, most following typefaces for Greek have been much simpler. Gerry Leonidas, a leading expert on Greek typesetting, has commented that Vergecio's handwriting "has all the marks of a script that is unsuitable for conversion to [printing]. That it was the model for the widely-copied grecs du roi was, with hindsight, unfortunate."[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Valerie R. Hotchkiss, Charles C. Ryrie (1998). "Formatting the Word of God: An Exhibition at Bridwell Library".
  2. ^ "Garamont's early career: the grecs du roi". French Ministry of Culture. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  3. ^ "The Greek Typefaces". French Ministry of Culture. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  4. ^ Mosley, James. "Porson's Greek type design". Type Foundry. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  5. ^ Elizabeth Armstrong (28 April 2011). Robert Estienne, Royal Printer: An Historical Study of the Elder Stephanus. Cambridge University Press. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-521-17066-6.
  6. ^ Tilley, Arthur (1900). "Humanism under Francis I". The English Historical Review. 15 (59): 456–478. doi:10.1093/ehr/xv.lix.456.
  7. ^ John D. (ed.). Berry (2002). Language Culture Type: International Type Design in the Age of Unicode. ATypI. pp. 80–3. ISBN 978-1-932026-01-6.

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