Robert Feenstra: 5 Oct. 1920- 2 Mar. 2013
This Blog is saddened to have to report the death of Robert Feenstra, a truly great legal historian. It is just over two years ago that your Blogger attended his 90th Birthday Symposium, a symposium at which the honorand spoke himself, both cogently and well.
It is too early to evaluate Professor Feenstra's career, or to judge his legacy; but he was certainly one of the most important legal historians of the twentieth century, most noted for his work on Roman law in the Middle Ages, notably the School of Orleans, Roman-Dutch law and early-modern law more generally. He had a particular interest in the intellectual history of law books and legal education. He was also a facilitator, even a fixer, and under him the Tijdschrift voor Rechtgeschiedenis developed into, in your blogger's view, the best general legal history periodical.
Though affable and generous with his time, Professor Feestra very definitely had the style of the grand man, who expected much. He once annouced to two vistors to the Netherlands, who wanted to visit and be shown round Leiden, that your blogger would do it, as "John knows Leiden as well as anyone" (far from the truth). He met us all at the station in his car, bringing about one of the terrifying car journeys I periodically had with him driving, gave us coffee at his home, then still in Leiden, in what I think of as the other side of the station, before dropping us in central Leiden for me to give the guests a tour. I did my best.
His standards were exacting, once questioning your blogger's English grammar, and I have seen him make a doctoral candidate stand up and translate from Latin in public. But the high standards and expectations were applied to himself and to his own work.
The funeral service will take place this Saturday, 1 PM at the Crematorium Driehuis Westerveld, near Haarlem, reachable by local train from Amsterdam.