The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century (Anglais) Relié – 19 mars 2013
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Description du produit
Revue de presse
"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) --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché.
Présentation de l'éditeur
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. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com
Think of it: the diary of an executioner of the late 1500s to early 1600s - a time when thousands were brutally tortured and put to death by barbaric means - has been preserved. Further, the man and his journal entries are then made the centerpiece of a detailed and captivating social history of the time and place in which he carried out his 361 executions, a history entirely different than what the common reader might expect. This is, in fact, what this excellent book is all about. As a lover of history, I cannot recommend this volume highly enough; it is like stepping back into another, darker, time.
The story of Meister Frantz Schmidt (b. 1555, d. 1634), executioner of Nuremberg from 1578 to 1617 (after a bloody "apprenticeship" in Bamberg from 1573 to 1578) is one you will not soon forget. It is not a story for the squeamish. However, the author does not serve horror for horror's sake: the times were, in fact, horrific. Executions were carried out by garoting (rope), sword, breaking wheel (for the most violent of criminals), burning (for those considered worse than violent criminals: counterfeiters and homosexuals), and drowning. Schmidt made diary entries for each of his 361 executions, the latter ones more detailed than the earlier, as well as for the 345 "light" punishments of cutting off an ear or finger, or flogging. However, these violent events only punctuate the social history of Schmidt's life and times; not only the crimes and criminals which kept the executioner steadily employed (and, in fact, fairly wealthy) but the societal structure of crime and punishment and of the executioner's place in that society.
Frantz Schmidt was a truly fascinating man who, after retirement as executioner, became a man of medicine, and who, upon his death, was given a state funeral. His diaries have been published since 1801. However, it is the expertise of a historian, the author, which gives us such an engrossing, well-rounded picture of the man and his times. One of the best books on history I have ever read.
This guy lived the Milgram Experiment--when authority directed him to punish in any number of horrific ways, he complied. It was a job and it appears that he didn't enjoy inflicting pain but saw his role as a necessary evil if society was to be protected. Having read this book, one appreciates the value of the rule of law. Perhaps we could not have the degree of societal respect for the rules we currently enjoy without a history of crucifixions and torture, but it is not impossible to revisit the days and times of our ancestors who dealt with the same basic problems we do and try to think of whether or not our society has truly evolved.
My take on the book was that one can find success despite any obstacles that society or circumstance may impose. It takes hard work, unyielding ethics and a great deal of patience; characteristics that are as necessary in today's world as they were in the 16th century.
The gentlemans journal opens a whole new perspective to the profession, which also served as Doctor and phamacist in may rural towns of the time. It also describes how sons studied under their fathers starting as early as age 10 by assissting with prepe and cleanup and by 16 were practicing with the equipment to prepare for their first event.
Who knew that executioners regularly practiced the healing arts? Or that the body parts of the recently dead were thought to possess medicinal benefits? Or that once an executioner, always an executioner--and your children too?
Joel Harrington writes in a clear, compelling style that was a joy to read. His research is superb, and his wise conclusions about the life of Meister Frantz Schmidt and what he desperately wanted for his family are both inspiring and heartbreaking.
Read this book. That is all.
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