Sunday, June 26, 2011

On this Day - The Pied Piper of Hamelin - Truth or Fairytale?

Everyone has heard of the Pied Piper not many know that the story stemmed from actual events in June of 1284 in Hamelin, Germany. The town of Hamelin was experiencing an infestation of rats and mice. A man, dressed in attire of many colors, mysteriously came into town and struck a deal with the people of the village. He promised to rid the village of the rats and mice but for a price, and the villagers agreed. The Piper pulled a small fife from his pocket and started to play. The vermin came running out from every house and began following the Piper who led them to the river where they were drowned. The Villagers soon regretted the amount they promised him and refused to pay.

The Piper left but returned on June 26, again dressed in colorful attire and playing his fife. This time, however, all of the village’s children came out of their houses and began following him. The Piper led the children out the town and they were never seen nor heard from again.

The citizen’s of the village recorded the event at town hall:
In the year 1284 after the birth of Christ
From Hameln were led away
One hundred thirty children, born at this place 
Led away by a piper into a mountain.

On the new gate of town hall the following was inscribed:

And on the new gate was inscribed: Centum ter denos cum magus ab urbe puellosduxerat ante annos CCLXXII condita porta fuit.

[This gate was built 272 years after the magician led the 130 children from the city.]

Many theorized at a possible cause for the disappearance of the children. Some believe the Pied Piper is symbolism for Black Death and the children died from disease. Another theory is that the children willingly abandon their parents to become the founders of their own colony in Eastern Europe. And yet another theory is that the children were sold to a recruiter from the Baltic region of Eastern Europe.

Despite all of these theories, proof of their fate has never been unearthed.

Kerri L. Schultz

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