»In the end, this is a surprisingly modern, even topical story that poses difficult questions about capital punishment and what Harrington calls »the human drive toward retribution.« Although Harrington resists moralizing for the most part, many readers will feel an uncomfortable jolt when he notes in a parenthetical aside that one of Schmidt’s torture techniques is »today known as waterboarding.««
In The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century, Joel F. Harrington reveals the inner life of the 16th century executioner Frantz Schmidt. Author Daniel Stashower reviews the book at The Washington Post.
»It was Frantz’s responsibility to choreograph the “carefully managed drama of sin and redemption” that took place at an execution. Putting on a good show – that struck terror into the hearts of would-be criminals and enacted the dread majesty of the state – was at the heart of his job. Frantz is a disturbing figure; it is hard to sympathise with cool functionaries who torture and kill, yet Harrington’s portrait makes it hard not to as we learn more about the man and his world.«
The gory career of the medieval killer Frantz Schmidt who tried to do his job properly fascinates Ben Wilson. His review on The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honour and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century by Joel F. Harrington at The Telegraph.