The Executioner's Journal: Meister Frantz Schmidt of the Imperial City of Nuremberg

Joel F Harrington (Author) Frantz Schmidt (Author)

Product Details

University of Virginia Press
Publish Date
September 02, 2016
6.0 X 8.9 X 0.4 inches | 0.75 pounds

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About the Author

Joel F. Harrington is Centennial Professor of History at Vanderbilt University and the author of The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century and The Unwanted Child: The Fate of Foundlings, Orphans, and Juvenile Criminals in Early Modern Germany.


Harrington's fluid, inventive translation and his superb introduction take the English reader as close as possible to the original text. This book will be an excellent companion piece to his biography of Schmidt, The Faithful Executioner, which has been widely read and admired.

--Joy Wiltenburg, Rowan University, author of Crime and Culture in Early Modern Germany

A fascinating, more or less unique document, the journal of a working executioner. Schmidt's dramatic narrative and grim humor make for compelling reading. Harrington's translation is based on the earliest known copy of Schmidt's diary, and he argues convincingly that it is the closest to Schmidt's original text.

--Kathy Stuart, University of California, Davis, author of Defiled Trades and Social Outcasts: Honor and Ritual Pollution in Early Modern Germany

Harrington's The Executioner's Journal reproduces a captivating document: a record of punishments kept over the course of the career of an early modern executioner. Frantz Schmidt, appointed executioner of Nuremberg in 1578, executed nearly four hundred transgressors and corporally punished hundreds more over the course of a career that spanned four decades. Elements of Harrington's own work--monographs like The Faithful Executioner (his 2013 biography of Schmidt) or The Unwanted Child (his 2009 study of early modern orphans and child abandonment)--has been inspired by Schmidt's joural, which demonstrates its high value as source material.

--Central European History

The journal of Meister Frantz Schmidt, executioner of Nuremberg, has long been known to scholars of German legal and criminal history as an exceptional source.... Joel Harrington's excellent translation makes available to students and nonspecialist scholars alike Meister Frantz's journal and the rich data it contains. Harrington's sixty-page introduction is a treasure in itself.

--Journal of Modern History