Adriaan Johan Boudewijn Sirks (born 14 September 1947), known as Boudewijn Sirks and as A. J. B. Sirks, is a Dutch academic lawyer and papyrologist specializing in Roman law. He was Regius Professor of Civil Law at the University of Oxford from 2006 to 2014.


Early lifeEdit

Sirks was born on 14 September 1947 in The Hague, Netherlands.[1] He studied law at the University of Leiden, graduating with a Master of Laws (LLM) degree in 1972.[2] He then studied theology and philosophy at the University of Amsterdam, where he later graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in law in 1984.[2][3]


Sirks's first academic position was as research assistant in philosophy at Amsterdam. However, in 1978 he was appointed as Lecturer in Legal History at the University of Utrecht, where he was later promoted Senior Lecturer in Legal Techniques. At the same time, he was writing a thesis for a doctoral degree in law at the University of Amsterdam. He returned to Amsterdam in 1989 as Reader and acting Professor of Legal Techniques.[3]

In 1997, Sirks became Professor of the History of Ancient Law, of the History of European Private Law, and of German Civil Law, at the Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main.[3][4] In 2002 Sirks became a correspondent of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.[5]

In December 2005, HM The Queen appointed him as a Regius Professor at Oxford, with effect from 1 February 2006.[3] At the same time, he was elected a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.[4] The appointment was announced from 10, Downing Street, as follows:[6]

Sirks has also been a visiting scholar at Columbia University, New York, and Visiting Professor at the University of Kansas, has served as a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Legal History,[3] and has lectured for the Edinburgh Roman Law Group, which was founded by his predecessor as Regius Professor of Civil Law, Peter Birks.[7]

He is a member of the Studia Amstelodamensia.[3]

Published workEdit

Professor Sirks's research interests span civil law, European private law, the ancient history of law, and papyrology.[3] He has published work on a variety of subjects related to law, papyrology, and the ancient world, including archaic Roman law, matters of classical private law, the administrative and public law of the later Roman Empire and the reception of Roman law in Europe and in the former Dutch East Indies. He is co-author of the standard edition of the Pommersfelden Papyri.[6]

His Food for Rome: the Legal Structure of the Transportation and Processing of Supplies for the Imperial Distributions in Rome and Constantinople (1991) developed from the thesis for his doctoral degree at Amsterdam, completed in 1984.[8] Following the death of the Dutch papyrologist Pieter Johannes Sijpesteijn in 1996, Sirks edited with K. A. Worp a collection of previously unpublished papyri dedicated to Sijpesteijn's memory by his fellow papyrologists, including papyri from the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods, to reflect Sijpesteijn's wide interests.[9]

Selected publicationsEdit

  • H. M. A. Jansen, Johannes B. Opschoor, Adriaan Johan Boudewijn Sirks, Verkeerslawaai in Nederland (Coutinho, January 1977) ISBN 978-90-6283-504-1[note 1][10]
  • A. J. B. Sirks, Sulpicius Severus' Letter to Salvius in Bolletino dell'Istituto di Diritto romano 85 (1982) pp. 143–170[note 2]
  • A. J. B. Sirks, Food for Rome: the Legal Structure of the Transportation and Processing of Supplies for the Imperial Distributions in Rome and Constantinople (Amsterdam, Gieben, 1991) ISBN 978-90-5063-069-6[8][11][note 3]
  • A. J. B. Sirks, Summaria antiqua Codicis Theodosiani, new edition, with the notes published in P. Krüger, Codicis Theodosiani fragmenta Taurinensia (A. J. B. Sirks, Amsterdam, 1996, XII + 130 pp)
  • Boudewijn Sirks, The editing and compilation of the Code in I. Wood, Jill Harries, The Theodosian Code: Studies in the Imperial Law of Late Antiquity (1996)
  • A. J. Boudewijn Sirks, Shifting Frontiers in the Law: Romans, Provincials, and Barbarians, in Ralph Mathisen and Hagith Sivan, eds., Shifting Frontiers in Late Antiquity (Aldershot, 1996)
  • A. J. B. Sirks, P. J. Sijpesteijn, K. A. Worp (eds), Ein frühbyzantinisches Szenario für die Amtswechslung in der Sitonie: die griechischen Papyri aus Pommersfelden (PPG) mit einem Anhang über die Pommersfeldener Digestenfragmente und die Überlieferungsgeschichte der Digesten (Munich, Beck, 1996)[10][11]
  • A. J. B. Sirks, The Epistula ad Salvium, appended to a letter of Sulpicius Severus to Paulinus: Observations on a recent analysis by C. Lepelley, in Subseciva Groningana Vol. VI (1999) 75
  • A. J. B. Sirks, Saving Souls through Adoption: Legal Adaptation in the Dutch East Indies in John W. Cairns, O. F. Robinson, Critical Studies in Ancient Law, Comparative Law and Legal History (Hart Publishing, 2001) pp 365–379, ISBN 1-84113-157-1
  • A. J. B. Sirks, Sailing in the Off-Season with Reduced Financial Risk and Some Reflections in J.-J. Aubert, A. J. B. Sirks (eds), Speculum Iuris, Roman Law as a Reflection of Social and Economic Life in Antiquity (The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 2002)[3]
  • A. J. B. Sirks, Die Nomination für die städtischen Ämter im römischen Reich, in A. Cordes, J. Rückert, R. Schulze (eds), Stadt - Gemeinde - Genossenschaft: Festschrift für Gerhard Dilcher zum 70. Geburtstag (Erich Schmidt Verlag, 2003) ISBN 3-503-06163-0[note 4]
  • K. A. Worp and A. J. B. Sirks (eds), Papyri in Memory of P J Sijpesteijn (Oakville CT, American Studies in Papyrology 40, American Society for Papyrologists, 2004) ISBN 0-9700591-0-8 [11]
  • A. J. B. Sirks, Der Zweck des Senatus Consultum Claudianum von 52 n. Chr. (2005) in 122 Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung fur Rechtsgeschichte, Romanistische Abteilung, pp. 138–149, ISSN 0323-4096<[note 5]
  • Boudewijn Sirks, The food distributions in Rome and Constantinople: Imperial power and continuity in Kolb, Anne, Herrschaftsstrukturen und Herrschaftspraxis: Konzepte, Prinzipien und Strategien der Administration im römischen Kaiserreich (Akademie Verlag, 2006) ISBN 3-05-004149-8
  • A. J. B. Sirks, The Theodosian Code, a Study (Editions du Quatorze Septembre, 2007) ISBN 978-3-00-022777-6


  1. ^ Title in English: Traffic noise in the Netherlands
  2. ^ Summarized by R. D. Tanner: "...regarding Letter VI, A. J. B. Sirks has made a firm defence of authenticity based on the juridical details which fit the era of Severus" (Tanner, R. D., The Spurious Letters of Sulpicius Severus in Studia Patristica Vol XXVIII, Leuven, Peeters, 1993, p. 114)
  3. ^ With origins in an Amsterdam doctoral thesis of 1984, Food for Rome examines the transportation and processing of supplies for free imperial distribution in Rome and Constantinople and the regulations governing their distribution.
  4. ^ Abstract: Public officials in Roman towns were originally elected, but from the second century on a candidate was nominated and could appeal to the governor before being appointed. Opinions differ on the detail and meaning of this. It has been suggested that the change may have been due to the economic situation and to a lack of enthusiasm for town administration. Sirks submits that either a committee or the outgoing official proposed the candidates, their nomination was a decision to accept such proposals, the candidate's appeal could be made before the nomination became an appointment, and that the motivation for the change was that town councillors wanted to restrict appointment to their own descendants.
  5. ^ Abstract: The Senatus Consultum Claudianum of 52 AD sanctions the cohabitation of a free woman with a slave, with the enslavement of the woman and of any children born of the union to the slave's owner, if the woman does not leave the slave after a formal warning to do so by his owner. This is interpreted as punishment of the woman, curbing of unequal unions, protection of property, and increase of slaves. These explanations show great flaws, and an analysis of Pauli Sententiae 2, 21a, 6-11, which deal with the application of the Senatus Consultum, shows that the true purpose of the Senatus Consultum was to protect the authority of the slave's owner over him, but only if the owner wished this.


  1. ^ A.J.B. Sirks, 1947 - at the University of Amsterdam Album Academicum website
  2. ^ a b "Sirks, Prof. (Adriaan Johan) Boudewijn". Who's Who 2018. Oxford University Press. 1 December 2017. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U245612. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Boudewijn Sirks, Regius Professor of Civil Law at (accessed 25 February 2008)
  4. ^ a b New Professor Appointed at (accessed 25 February 2008)
  5. ^ "Boudewijn Sirks". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  6. ^ a b Regius Chair in Civil Law - University of Oxford Archived August 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, news release from 10, Downing Street, dated 1 December 2005 online at (accessed 25 February 2008)
  7. ^ Edinburgh Roman Law Group Archived 2008-03-02 at the Wayback Machine at the web site of the University of Edinburgh's School of Law (accessed 25 February 2008)
  8. ^ a b Review by Bruce W. Frier of Food for Rome Food for Rome: The Legal Structure of the Transportation and Processing of Supplies for the Imperial Distributions in Rome and Constantinople by Boudewign Sirks, review in The American Historical Review, Vol. 97, No. 5 (Dec., 1992), pp. 1496-1497
  9. ^ Papyri in Memory of P. J. Sijpesteijn, edited by A. J. B. Sirks and K. A. Worp at (accessed 25 February 2008)
  10. ^ a b Browse by Author : Adriaan Johan Boudewijn Sirks at (accessed 27 February 2008)
  11. ^ a b c Bodleian Law Library: Boudewijn Sirks[permanent dead link] online at (accessed 25 February 2008)