Frits van Oostrom knighted during farewell in packed Domkerk church

Frits van Oostrom krijgt zijn koninklijke onderscheiding opgespeld van minister Robbert Dijkgraaf. Foto: © Annemoon van Hemel
© Annemoon van Hemel

During his farewell as university professor at Utrecht University, Frits van Oostrom was appointed Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion. Minister of Education, Culture, and Science Robbert Dijkgraaf handed over this royal honour, effectively allowing the acclaimed medievalist to now call himself a ‘knight’.

“Long live knight Frits!”

Dijkgraaf praised Van Oostrom for his important contributions to academia. In his speech, the minister compared the work of the Dutch scholar to that of an astrophysicist: in Middle Dutch literature, too, you often grope in the dark, with fragments of manuscripts and untraceable manuscripts. 

About the honour, Dijkgraaf later wrote on Twitter: “The list of what Van Oostrom has done is endless: from major research projects to the Canon of the Netherlands. A great honour that I was able to present him with a royal honour. He has been appointed Knight of the Order of the Dutch Lion. Long live Knight Frits!”

A silver medal, book and video series, all in honour of Van Oostrom

Rector magnificus Henk Kummeling also praised Utrecht’s first ever university professor for his excellent research and important contributions to making knowledge accessible to students and the general public. He therefore presented Van Oostrom with the Utrecht University’s silver medal of honour, with the striking inscription: “Enthusing mentor of innumerable students”.

Omslag van het boek Spiegelingen: Mediëvisten voor de twintigste eeuw

Colleagues Wim van Anrooij, Bart Besamusca, Dieuwke van der Poel, and Frank Willaert surprised Van Oostrom with a book and video series dedicated to Van Oostrom. The video series Smaakmakers consists of five short film adaptations of key scenes from medieval tales: ‘Charles and Elegast’, ‘Walewein’, ‘Moriaen’, ‘Beatrice’, and ‘Lanselut of Denmark’. The videos are intended to make secondary school students curious about classics of Middle Dutch literature.

For the book Spiegelingen: Mediëvisten voor de eenentwintigste eeuw, thirty authors from home and abroad wrote an essay on the work of a medievalist whose work offers a deeper insight into both the past and the present. The book’s motto comes from Van Oostrom: “Good history leaves us reflecting about the present as well as the past”. The idea behind this is that studying the past always enriches thinking about the present as well.