Inter-related family dynasties

During the Renaissance, it was extremely common for members of the book trade (as in other trades) to marry within their own ranks. Widows and daughters of printers often married workers, journeymen and sometimes masters. It was rare for anyone to quit the profession.

When a master married off a daughter, the choice of spouse was critical: it forged long-lasting ties between two workshops and created partnerships that lasted for years. Economic interests trumped all other concerns – the clan had to be strengthened through expansion.

When a master married off a daughter, the choice of spouse was critical: it forged long-lasting ties between two workshops and created partnerships that lasted for years.

Annie Parent-Charon examined ten of the leading families in the Paris book trade: the Petits, the Regnaults, the Kervers, the Estiennes, the Bades, Guillaume Godard and his son-in-law Guillaume Merlin, Galliot du Pré, Vincent Sertenas, Michel de Vascosan and Chrétien and André Wechel. This section of the bourgeoisie, all of them licensed booksellers, formed alliances and married into each other's families.

For example, each of the four daughters of the great humanist printer Josse Bade married booksellers; Bade's son-in-laws thus included Robert Estienne, Jean de Roigny, Michel de Vascosan and Jacques Dupuys. This led to the creation of veritable dynasties, whose many branches were connected by professional interests. Such intermarriage was not exclusively the domain of the most powerful. Humbler artisans did the same: the printer Louis Tarroreau married the student of his colleague Jean de La Roche in 1543, and the punch-cutter Claude Garamont, took as his bride the daughter of the type founder and printer Pierre Gaultier.

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