The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honoer and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century by Joel F. Harrington

Decent Essays

Joel F. Harrington’s The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century, is about Meister Frantz Schmidt and the role he played as an executioner and healer in Germany and the life he wanted and pursued during and afterwards. Fulfilling an inherited and unwanted roll as executioner, often considered a curse, Schmidt was determined to seek redemption through social respectability and not fall into the normal stigma of an executioner’s life. “Establishing a good name among wary locals remained a lifelong endeavor for Meister Frantz.” (p. 131) Armed with self-discipline and self-righteousness, he committed to this endeavor by not falling for the normal traps (public use of prostitutes and drunkenness) that usually followed the dishonorable position. Schmidt was “faithful” in his duties but also as a respectable man of society. Sixteenth century Germany was a time and place of revolution and reformation. To keep the order and punish individuals for their crimes, an executioner was required to provide justice. In addition, prosperous cities were eager to promote safeness and attract trades. In hopes of this, they adopted ordinances. When someone broke the law, and equal punishment was required and thus entered the executioner. His responsibilities included not only questioning, torturing and killing his assigned criminals, but he also served as a healer. These duties as healer would later lead to his life as a doctor. Sadistic in ways,

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