A Brill Calendar: November 4
The Birth of Moses Salomon Asser
Few families can boast of successive generations as the Dutch Asser dynasty.
The Assers have continued to address one specific intellectual discipline, law: focussing on both praxis and theory of law, and jurisprudence. The family's 'Adam' was Mozes Salomon Asser, who died in the city where he was born: Amsterdam, November 4 1826, at 72 years of age. He was mourned by many Netherlanders as an inspiring member of the enlightened society - ‘Felix Libertate’ – which was dedicated to emancipation of Jewish Communities in the new nation state known as ‘The Netherlands’.
Some twenty years earlier, when the country was known for a short while as the Kingdom of Holland, (with Louis, Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother as its surprisingly benevolent and visionary king), Mozes Asser was given the task to produce - together with two other patriotic gentlemen - a new law-book, regulating commerce in order to increase national prosperity. Its significance didn’t stop at the national border.
Mozes’ son Carel studied law in Leyden; and became an authority on national legislation. Carel’s grandson, yet another Carel; passed through the same university, where he became a distinguished Professor in Civil Law.
As if this wouldn’t be enough to establish the dynasty as champions of ‘Justitia & Pax’, one of Mozes’ great-grandsons, Tobias Michael Carel Asser (Amsterdam, 1838 – The Hague, 1913, his doctorate also gained in Leyden), initiated an unprecedented institute for international law, became the human embodiment of international arbitration and received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1911.
The ground-breaking scholarly journal ‘Revue de droit international et de legislation comparée’ wouldn’t have existed without Tobias Asser. That this fine and archetypal European legal mind also edited his great-grandfather’s seminal book is also a tribute to this family's vigorous traditions.
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2013, April 11