Jakob Balde (1604-1668), German Latinist, was born at Ensisheim in Alsace on the 4th of January 1604. Driven from Alsace by the marauding bands of Count Mansfeld, he fled to Ingolstadt where he began to study law. A love disappointment, however, turned his thoughts to the church, and in 1624 he entered the Society of Jesus. Continuing his study of the humanities, he became in 1628 professor of rhetoric at Innsbruck, and in 1635 at Ingolstadt, whither he had been transferred by his superiors in order to study theology. In 1633 he was ordained priest. His lectures and poems had now made him famous, and he was summoned to Munich where, in 1638, he became court chaplain to the elector Maximilian I. He remained in Munich till 1650, when he went to live at Landshut and afterwards at Amberg. In 1654 he was transferred to Neuberg on the Danube, as court preacher and confessor to the count palatine. In the opinion of his contemporaries, Balde revived the glories of the Augustan age, and Pope Alexander VII. and the scholars of the Netherlands combined to do him honour; even Herder regarded him as a greater poet than Horace. While such judgments are naturally exaggerated, there is no doubt that he takes a very high place among modern Latin poets.
He died at Neuberg on the 9th of August 1668.
A collected edition of Balde's works in 4 vols. was published at Cologne in 1650; a more complete edition in 8 vols. at Munich, 1729; also a good selection by L. Spach (Paris and Strassburg, 1871). An edition of his Latin lyrics appeared at Regensburg in 1884. There are translations into German of his finer odes, by J. Schrott and M. Schleich (Munich, 1870). See G. Westermayer, Jacobus Balde, sein Leben und seine Werke (1868); J. Bach, Jakob Balde (Freiburg, 1904).