Eltjo Schrage: Retirement

Friday 29 October 2010 saw a number of events to mark the retirement of Professor Eltjo Schrage from the Chair of the Foundations of Private Law at the University of Amsterdam, and to celebrate his remarkable contribution to the study of European legal history from Roman times down to the present day.

The centrepiece was the presentation to Eltjo of a festschrift, entitled "Ius Romanum, Ius Commune, Ius Hodiernum" and edited by four of his friends, colleagues and proteges, Harry Dondorp, Jan Hallebeek, Tammo Wallinga and Laurens Winkel.  36 contributors from every part of Europe (including John Cairns and Hector MacQueen from this parish and Olivia Robinson from Glasgow) demonstrated the international esteem and affection in which Eltjo is held.  There is a fine photograph of the great man, and also a delicious word portrait by the editors:

"At first sight [Eltjo] seems rather formal; he is often formally dressed and seems deeply under the spell of his orthodox Calvinistic religious beliefs.  At second sight there is a completely opposite Eltjo, enjoying a good dinner, good wine, witty in his speech, an excellent host at his home in Ouderkerk, full of interesting anecdotes … The two opposites come together nicely in the scene of Eltjo, immaculately dressed in his usual three-piece suit, telling a lecture-hall full of students that he is a great lover of animals, 'if properly cooked'."

The festschrift was presented to Eltjo by Harry Dondorp after the former had given his valedictory (and characteristically wide-ranging) lecture to a large and appreciative audience in a centrally-located hall of the University of Amsterdam.  Olivia Robinson then paid a nice little tribute in which she admitted to having always looked up to Eltjo.  And the day concluded with a crowded and bonhomous reception and a splendid dinner.

Earlier, in the morning, there had been a small conference at the offices of Russell Advocaten, Amsterdam solicitors with whom Eltjo has been for many years a consultant.  Four short papers were given, all coming from the festschrift: the speakers were David Ibbetson (Cambridge), Hector MacQueen (Edinburgh), Peter Kop (Hoge Raad, Amsterdam) and Martin Schermaier (Bonn).  The subject-matter of the papers was as diverse as Eltjo's interests and output (over 200 pieces noted in the bibliography provided by the festschrift): classical Roman law, mixed legal systems, Nazi attitudes to Roman law, and the travails of the bonus paterfamilias in modern law.

It was a delightful day and, best of all, it clearly made Eltjo and his marvellously supportive wife Anneke very happy indeed.