1941: Ivan Sullivan

1617: A miller of Manberna, the hangman’s last

November 13th, 2020 Headsman


Youth With Executioner by Nuremberg native Albrecht Dürer … although it’s dated to 1493, which was during a period of several years when Dürer worked abroad.

November 13 [1617]. Burnt alive here a miller of Manberna, who however was lately engaged as a carrier of wine, because he and his brother, with the help of others, practised coining and counterfeiting money and clipping coins fraudulently; he had also a knowledge of magic. His brother escaped from the mill, and the Margrave locked the place up and confiscated the property. A certain Zachariah, a farrier and ‘scutcheon-maker, called ‘the heralds-smith,’ was mixed up in this; also a file-cutter living in the Bretterne Meer quarter, called ‘Karl the file-cutter.’ He had a familiar spirit and was a lying knave. These two escaped. This miller, who worked in the town mills here three years ago, fell into the town moat on Whitsunday. It would have been better for him if he had been drowned, but it turned out according to the proverb that ‘What belongs to the gallows cannot drown in water.’ [alternatively, ‘he who is born to be hanged can never be drowned.’]

This was the last person whom I, Master Franz, executed.

-From the diary of legendary and prolific Nuremberg executioner Franz Schmidt

This site launched way back on Halloween 2007, which is objectively the ideal holiday to premier an execution blog. And it’s kept up a daily posting schedule for 13 years plus 13 days,* which is objectively the ideal length of time to maintain this unhealthy fixation on death. Against every probability, we’ve attained level 13 Death Master.

This isn’t the last post that will ever appear on Executed Today — there are a number of additional executions we mean to profile, as well as meta-content and other features in the pipeline. But this Friday the 13th marks the end of every-day posting.

* We’re viewing Halloween itself … liminally. If you want to be a calendar pedant about it, it’s 13 years and 14 days.

From now until the end of 2020, use the simple discount code 13 to save 13% off all sales of the Executed Today playing cards.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 17th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Counterfeiting,Death Penalty,Execution,Germany,Hanged,History,Milestones,Pelf

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15 thoughts on “1617: A miller of Manberna, the hangman’s last”

  1. Paul McKenzie says:

    You were an everyday read for YEARS. You will be so missed. Vaya con dios.

  2. Sergio says:

    I also wish to leave my thanks for your excellent posts and history lessons. I wish you all the best!

  3. Headsman says:

    I have no words for these many generous comments. Thank you all.

  4. Will says:

    Like many others i am sad to read this. I’ve found this page to be a fascinating opportunity to learn so much history that would otherwise be invisible to me. Going well beyond the executions themselves and tells us much about life in the past (both recent and ancient) from across the world. Thank you for telling us these often forgot floating moments of the past. I can think of few greater arguments against capitol punishment than this blog has provided.
    I also want to thank you for posting so regularly. I would, as I am now, read you blog late at night when sleep escapes me. And whilst I might be reading about executions, I found the humanity, warmth and regularity in your writing deeply comforting. It has made many, many long nights feel considerably less isolating.

    Many thanks from the 3am club, and I look forward to your less frequent posts.

  5. Michael says:

    Thank you so much for the daily microhistories. You brought us voices long silenced, and provided a fascinating insight into our world, and who we are, through this unique lens.

  6. Roman says:

    Thank you for all your work. I learned more about history from your posts than from all other sources combined. Great writing and dedication.

  7. Brenda says:

    I feel sad. Haven’t commented but ABSOLUTELY LOVE your site and especially, your dedication. Thank you for the years of INCREDIBLE historical finds and facts. One of my true pleasures was checking on this site!
    Well, onward and forward to new paths and journeys. Best always and will continue to peruse this site regularly as it’s so FUN & AWESOME!

  8. Lisa says:

    I audibly gasped reading this … I can’t whine or complain because you have a life (no pun intended) but want to thank you so much for the amazing site you have maintained here masterfully for so long and so well. I will continue to check daily to read the day’s archives (one of the few good things about the fact that I have suffered medical issues that cause memory loss is the fact that I can reread things over again as if it were the first time!!! Ever the pollyanna) … I don’t know why this subject fascinates me so much (used to believe, and maybe it’s true, that I was executed in a former life).

    All hail the Headsman and if you ever turn this into a book, PLEASE let us know!!!

    1. Headsman says:

      Thank you, Lisa, I really appreciate your kind words and your longtime support. In all candor I’m having to restrain my posting-fingers from going at it this weekend. I also can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve plopped down to research the next post on … whoever … and the first search hit that pops up is an Executed Today link from 6 years ago that I’d completely forgotten about writing.

  9. Sarah Johnson says:

    My thanks also … you have provided a unique view of global history through a well-documented lense. Executions are not my favorite subject, but they impinge on every aspect of human nature and our fears. You collected a mine of information for us. Did it give you nightmares? Enjoy doing updates … I for one will be watching.

    1. Headsman says:

      Thank you so much. No, I’ve never felt personally tormented by the research; if anything I might be a data point in favor of the “brutalization” hypothesis. When learning about new-to-me historical figures in a spot of bother, I’ll become hopeful at the prospect that their bother might possibly have led them to the scaffold. There’s some controversy among acquaintances as to whether this attitude with respect to someone who has been dead for centuries qualifies as wishing harm.

  10. Headsman says:

    I can’t begin to thank you enough for the kind words and for coming back over and over again down the many years. It has meant so much to me.

  11. Charles says:

    It has been an amazing sequence of posts. Thanks!

  12. Fiz says:

    I agree with Lawguy. I’ve been here since the beginning. I visit this site two or three times a day. I will miss you, Headsman.

  13. Lawguy says:

    Oh noes. Well I’ve followed you almost from the beginning and have really enjoyed it all. Every morning before I went to work, and now in retirement. Sorry to see you (kind of) go, but ah well. Be good and I’ll be checking back to see what comes up.

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