The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death in the Sixteenth Century

The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death in the Sixteenth Century

Paperback Vintage Books

By (author) Joel F. Harrington

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  • Publisher: VINTAGE
  • Format: Paperback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 198mm x 24mm | 305g
  • Publication date: 1 May 2014
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0099572664
  • ISBN 13: 9780099572664
  • Sales rank: 212,160

Product description

Meet Frantz Schmidt: executioner, torturer and, most unusually for his times, diarist. Following in his father's footsteps, Frantz entered the executioner's trade as an Apprentice. 394 executions and forty-five years later, he retired to focus his attentions on running the large medical practice that he had always viewed as his true vocation. Through examination of Frantz's exceptional and often overlooked record, Joel F. Harrington delves deep into a world of human cruelty, tragedy and injustice. At the same time, he poses a fascinating question: could a man who routinely practiced such cruelty also be insightful, compassionate - even progressive? The Faithful Executioner is the biography of an ordinary man struggling to overcome an unjust family curse; it is also a remarkable panorama of a Europe poised on the cusp of modernity, a world with startling parallels to our own.

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Author information

Following a distinguished academic career teaching and studying the history of Europe, Joel Harrington is currently Professor of History at Vanderbilt University. He specializes in the Reformation and early modern Germany, with a particular interest in social history. Among his previous publications are A Cloud of Witnesses, Reordering Marriage and Society in Reformation Germany and The Unwanted Child, for which he won the 2010 Roland Bainton Prize for History.

Review quote

"A surprisingly moving story of brutality and redemption" -- Dan Jones Telegraph "Opens a window on a gruesome world" Daily Express "This is a marvelous book about a fascinating subject... It is a virtuoso performance... A brilliant microhistory, a triumph of technique and a wonderful read" -- Peter Marshall Literary Review "Who can imagine how an executioner feels about his trade? Joel F. Harrington has written a considered and fascinating book which helps us hear the voice of one such man, a professional torturer (and healer) who, astonishingly, kept a diary" -- Hilary Mantel "This is a sympathetic, intelligent and surprisingly tender book" The Times