De Baïf was born in Venice as son of the French ambassador. He received a thorough classical
education and formed a friendship with the slightly older Pierre de Ronsard by whom he was
inducted into French verse forms.
In 1570, after he had moved to Paris, he founded the Académie de musique et de poésie in
which he sought to unite music and poetry. With the friendship of several other poets,
notably Ronsard, he was a co-founder of the Pléiade, which attempted to revive the
traditions of its forerunner in classical Alexandria.
Early in life, he was awarded a clerical benefice and strove for many years to translate
biblical texts. He developed poetic verse measures based on classical formats and
translated several classical texts. From his first publications as early as 1552 onwards,
he wrote numerous works of poetry in both French and Latin. He enjoyed royal support
throughout his life benefitting financially from a succession of pensions granted by
Francois II, Charles VIII and Louis XII.
He died in Paris.