Death and a Maiden: Infanticide and the Tragical History of Grethe Schmidt

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9780875806693: Death and a Maiden: Infanticide and the Tragical History of Grethe Schmidt
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On the feast of Saint Michael in September 1659, a thirteen-years-old peasant girl named Grethe Schmidt left her family's rural home to work as a maid in the nearby city of Braunschweig. Just two years later, Schmidt found herself imprisoned and accused of murdering her bastard child, even though the fact of her pregnancy was unproved and no infant's body was ever found. William David Myers infuses the story of Grethe's arrest, torture, trial, and sentencing for infanticide with a detailed account of the workings of the criminal justice system in continental Europe, including the nature of interrogations, the process of torture, and the creation of a "criminal" identity over time. Even after Myers' research through thousands of pages of testimony and rancorous legal exchange, it is still not clear that any murder happened. "Death and a Maiden" serves up a captivating slice of European history as well as a highly informative look at the condition of poor women and the legal system in mid-seventeenth century Germany.

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Review:

""Myers deftly guides the reader through the methods used by investigators to collect information and the way that historians can ask questions and set contexts with these kinds of sources. For this reason, the book should find a strong readership among undergraduate and graduate students interested in early modern criminal history and scholars approaching complicated criminal cases for the first time.

" -German Studies Review

"The story Myers has to tell is a fascinating one and he skillfully constructs a strong narrative as he unravels testimonies and follows step-by-step the investigation, the machinations of government, the protests of the maiden's family, and the role played by the lawyer who defended her. With the talent of a good mystery writer, Myers holds us in suspense as to the outcome of the case until the very end.

" -Mary Lindemann, University of Miami

"Myers draws upon remarkably complete archival sources complemented by print polemics published by the city and the defense attorney. The translations and paraphrases he includes are sensitive and accurate. Myers uses the documents well to present a coherent story. One of the strongest aspects of his treatment is the care that he takes to tease the larger implications and often invisible assumptions that guided the interrogations. For students these pages will be a wonderful introduction to the way in which historians use sources in reconstructing an always elusive past.

" -R. Emmet McLaughlin, Villanova"

About the Author:

William David Myers is associate professor of history at Fordham University. He is the author of Poor, Sinning Folk: Confession and Conscience in Counter-Reformation Germany.

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Book Description Northern Illinois University Press, United States, 2012. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. On the feast of Saint Michael in September 1659, a thirteen-years-old peasant girl named Grethe Schmidt left her family's rural home to work as a maid in the nearby city of Braunschweig. Just two years later, Schmidt found herself imprisoned and accused of murdering her bastard child, even though the fact of her pregnancy was unproved and no infant's body was ever found. William David Myers infuses the story of Grethe's arrest, torture, trial, and sentencing for infanticide with a detailed account of the workings of the criminal justice system in continental Europe, including the nature of interrogations, the process of torture, and the creation of a "criminal" identity over time. Even after Myers' research through thousands of pages of testimony and rancorous legal exchange, it is still not clear that any murder happened. "Death and a Maiden" serves up a captivating slice of European history as well as a highly informative look at the condition of poor women and the legal system in mid-seventeenth century Germany. Seller Inventory # APC9780875806693

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Book Description Northern Illinois University Press, United States, 2012. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. On the feast of Saint Michael in September 1659, a thirteen-years-old peasant girl named Grethe Schmidt left her family's rural home to work as a maid in the nearby city of Braunschweig. Just two years later, Schmidt found herself imprisoned and accused of murdering her bastard child, even though the fact of her pregnancy was unproved and no infant's body was ever found. William David Myers infuses the story of Grethe's arrest, torture, trial, and sentencing for infanticide with a detailed account of the workings of the criminal justice system in continental Europe, including the nature of interrogations, the process of torture, and the creation of a "criminal" identity over time. Even after Myers' research through thousands of pages of testimony and rancorous legal exchange, it is still not clear that any murder happened. "Death and a Maiden" serves up a captivating slice of European history as well as a highly informative look at the condition of poor women and the legal system in mid-seventeenth century Germany. Seller Inventory # APC9780875806693

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Book Description Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, 2013. Softcover. Condition: New. 283 pages. Softcover. New book. EUROPEAN HISTORY. On the feast of St. Michael, September 1659, a thirteen-year-old peasant girl left her family's rural home to work as a maid in the nearby city of Brunswick. Just two years later, Grethe Schmidt found herself imprisoned and accused of murdering her bastard child. Filled with political intrigue, Death and a Maiden tells a fascinating story that began in the bedchamber of a house in Brunswick and ended at the court of Duke Augustus in the city of Wolfenb ttel. No one was ever able to prove conclusively that Grethe had been pregnant and no infant's body was ever found to justify her prosecution. But, from one accusation, Grethe's tale spiraled outward to set a defense lawyer and legal theorist against powerful city magistrates and then upward to a legal contest between that city and its overlord, the Duchy of Brunswick, with the city's ancient liberties hanging in the balance. Myers weaves the story of Grethe's arrest, torture, trial, and sentence for "suspected infanticide," into a detailed account of the workings of the criminal system in continental Europe, including the nature of interrogations, the process of torture, and the creation of a "criminal" identity over time. He presents an in-depth examination of a system in which torture was both legal and an important part of criminal investigations. This story serves as a captivating slice of European history as well as a highly informative look at the condition of poor women and the legal system in mid-17th century Germany. General readers and scholars alike will be riveted by Grethe's ordeal. William David Myers is Associate Professor of History at Fordham University and author of "Poor, Sinning Folk": Confession and the Making of Consciences in Counter-Reformation Germany. "The story Myers has to tell is a fascinating one and he skillfully constructs a strong narrative as he unravels testimonies and follows step-by-step the investigation, the machinations of government, the protests of the maiden's family, and the role played by the lawyer who defended her. With the talent of a good mystery writer, Myers holds us in suspense as to the outcome of the case until the very end."—Mary Lindemann, University of Miami (Key Words: Infanticide, Grethe Schmidt, William David Myers, European History, Torture, Women's Rights). book. Seller Inventory # 81456X1

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