Raoul van Caenegem (1927-2018)
25. Juni 2018
The Institute was saddened to learn of the passing on 15 June 2018 of the eminent Belgian legal historian, Raoul van Caenegem.
He was for many years associated with the Institute, serving on its governing commission, and was one of the scholars of great international renown whom its founder, Helmut Coing, had succeeded in bringing into its orbit.
Born in Ghent in 1927, he studied law in his native university, as well as at Paris and London, before returning to the University of Ghent where he was to spend his long and productive academic life.
It was in the field of Medieval legal history that Van Caenegem achieved his great reknown.
What distinguished him above other European legal historians was his deep knowledge of the history of English law. He set out to understand and explain the reasons for the divergence between the English common law and the ius commune of continental Europe, and indeed came to be equally respected by scholars in both fields, publishing in 1973 a work entitled The Birth of the English Common Law.
He was a member of academies in Belgium, the Netherlands and England, and received honorary degrees from the Universities of Tübingen, Louvain and Paris. His numerous books and other publications (many translated into various languages), represent a lasting contribution to the history of Medieval law in a Europe which for Van Caenegem existed on both sides of the English Channel.