Death and a Maiden: Infanticide and the Tragical History of Grethe Schmidt, by Myers, William David
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- ISBN: 9780875806693 | 0875806694
- Cover: Paperback
- Copyright: 9/15/2012
On the feast of St. Michael, September 1659, a thirteen-year-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 inconclusive and no infant's body was ever found. William David Myers infuses the story of Grethe's arrest, torture, trial, and sentence for suspected infanticide, with 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. After Myer's research through thousands of pages of testimony and rancorous legal exchange, it is still not clear that any murder happened. Death and a Maidenserves 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.