Based on the rare and until now overlooked journal of a Renaissance-era executioner, the noted historian Joel F. Harrington's The Faithful Executioner takes us deep inside the alien world and thinking of Meister Frantz Schmidt of Nuremberg, who, during forty-five years as a professional executioner, personally put to death 394 individuals and tortured, flogged, or disfigured many hundreds more. But the picture that emerges of Schmidt from his personal papers is not that of a monster. Could a man who routinely practiced such cruelty also be insightful, compassionate—even progressive? In The Faithful Executioner, Harrington vividly re-creates a life filled with stark contrasts, from the young apprentice's rigorous training under his executioner father to the adult Meister Frantz's juggling of familial duties with his work in the torture chamber and at the scaffold. With him we encounter brutal highwaymen, charming swindlers, and tragic unwed mothers accused of infanticide, as well as patrician senators, godly chaplains, and corrupt prison guards. Harrington teases out the hidden meanings and drama of Schmidt's journal, uncovering a touching tale of inherited shame and attempted redemption for the social pariah and his children. The Faithful Executioner offers not just the compelling firsthand perspective of a professional torturer and killer, but testimony of one man's lifelong struggle to reconcile his bloody craft with his deep religious faith. The biography of an ordinary man struggling for his soul, this groundbreaking book also offers an unparalleled panoramic view of Europe on the cusp of modernity, a society riven by violent conflict at all levels and encumbered by paranoia, superstition, and abuses of power. Thanks to an extraordinary historical source and its gifted interpreter, we recognize far more of ourselves than we might have expected in this intimate portrait of a professional killer from a faraway world.
This volume extends the theoretical scope of the important concept of empathy by analysing not only the cultural contexts that foster the generating of empathy, but in focusing also on the limits of pro-social feelings and the mechanisms that lead to its blocking.
Shame varies as an individual experience and its manifestations across time and cultures. Groups establish identity and enforce social behaviors through shame and shaming, while attempts at shaming often provoke a social or political backlash. Yet historians often neglect shame 's power to complicate individual, international, cultural, and political relationships. Peter N. Stearns draws on his long career as a historian of emotions to provide the foundational text on shame 's history and how this history contributes to contemporary issues around the emotion. Summarizing current research, Stearns unpacks the major debates that surround this complex emotion. He also surveys the changing role of shame in the United States from the nineteenth century to today, including shame 's revival as a force in the 1960s and its place in today 's social media. Looking ahead, Stearns maps the abundant opportunities for future historical research and historically informed interdisciplinary scholarship. Written for interested readers and scholars alike, Shame combines significant new research with a wider synthesis.
The essays in Topographies of Tolerance and Intolerance explore lived experiences of religious plurality, providing insights into religious coexistence during the early modern period. In doing so, they challenge the narrative of a simple progression of tolerance and confessional identity.
Katharina von Bora, wife of Martin Luther, was by any measure the First Lady of the Reformation. A strong woman with a mind of her own, she would remain unknown to us were it not for her larger than life husband. Unlike other noted Reformation women, her primary vocation was not related to ministry. She was a farmer and a brewer with a boarding house the size of a Holiday Inn - and all that with a large family and nursing responsibilities. In many ways, Katie was a modern woman - a Lean In woman or a modern-day version of a Proverbs 31 woman. Katharina's voice echoes among modern women, wives and mothers who have carved out a career of their own. Decisive and assertive, she transformed Martin Luther into at least a practicing egalitarian. Katharina was a full partner who was a no-nonsense, confident and determined woman, a starke Frau who did not cower when confronted by a powerful man. Ruth Tucker invites readers to visit Katie Luther in her sixteenth-century village life - with its celebrations and heartaches, housing, diet, fashion, childbirth, child-rearing and gender restrictions - and to welcome her today into our own living rooms and workplaces.
During a career lasting nearly half a century, Meister Frantz Schmidt (1554-1634) personally put to death 392 individuals and tortured, flogged, or disfigured hundreds more. The remarkable number of victims, as well as the officially sanctioned context in which they suffered at Schmidt’s hands, was the story of Joel Harrington’s much-discussed book The Faithful Executioner. The foundation of that celebrated work was Schmidt's own journal--notable not only for the shocking story it told but, in an age when people rarely kept diaries, for its mere existence. Available now in Harrington’s new translation, this fascinating document provides the modern reader with a rare firsthand perspective on the thoughts and experiences of an executioner who routinely carried out acts of state brutality yet remained a revered member of the local community, widely respected for his piety, steadfastness, and popular healing. Based on a long-lost manuscript thought to be the most faithful to the original journal, this modern English translation is fully annotated and includes an introduction providing historical context as well as a biographical portrait of Schmidt himself. The executioner appears to us not as the frightening brute we might expect but as a surprisingly thoughtful, complex person with a unique voice, and in these pages his world emerges as vivid and unforgettable. Studies in Early Modern German History