Oliver Pötzsch's series of historical mysteries, starting withThe Hangman's Daughter and now including The Dark Monk, features a trio of sleuths in 17th-century Bavaria. Like most of us, these three are always trying to broaden their professional horizons: Jakob is a hangman who moonlights as a healer and a detective; his daughter, Magdalena, rejects wifery in favor of midwifery; and their friend Simon is a doctor who yearns to abandon the old medical traditions (see: leeches) in favor of newfangled science. Unfortunately for 9-to-5ers in this era, jobs were often inherited and always limited.
In honor of The Dark Monk, which goes on sale today, we asked Oliver Pötzsch to revisit his research and uncover the most interesting jobs from the hangman's time.
If your interests were… You could be a…
Fashion, design Paternoster: Rosary maker
Beer, storage Schaeffler: Manufacturer of barrels
Butchery, digging Schinder ("flayer"): Skinner of dead animals and burier of carcasses
Weaponry, automation Armbruster: Manufacturer of crossbows
The outdoors, energy Kohler: Charcoal producer
Birdwatching Falkner: Trainer of hawks and other birds of prey for hunting
Hair—and more Barbier: Responsible for minor medical procedures such as bloodletting and tooth extraction, but best at offering a clean shave
Knots, textiles Seiler: Manufacturer of all types of ropes
Publishing Membranarius: Vellum/parchment maker
Sanitation, self-sacrifice Goldgraeber ("gold digger"): City lavatory cleaner