Balthasar Moretus

Balthasar Moretus (1571–1641), grandson of business founder Christophe Plantin. After Plantin’s death the business passed not to his daughter Martina Plantin but her husband, Jan Moretus, since women couldn’t inherit from their parents. However, it seems Martina did inherit the business from Jan when he died and left her widowed. All that said, the women of the family were very smart and well educated, helping with translating and proofreading as well as the business side of things.

This bust hangs in the house’s little walled-off garden. It occurred to me that one of the best markers of wealth in a crowded medieval city isn’t necessarily stuff (though the Moretus family did have a lot of stuff) but space. A quiet spot all your own to stroll, gather your thoughts and literally smell the flowers must have been priceless.

12 May 2017

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