You know the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin?
Well, unless you are an imbecile like my brother Dildo McDildoface aka the Gudduda, you know the story.
Still here it is
In 1284, Hamelin was suffering from a ratty situation.
All conventional methods of eradication flopped.
The people were desperate. One day, a piper dressed in multicolored clothing appeared, claiming to be a rat-catcher. He promised the mayor a solution to their problem with the rats.
The mayor in turn promised to pay him for the removal of the rats. The piper accepted and played his pipe to lure the rats into the Weser River, where all but one drowned.
Despite the piper’s success, the mayor reneged on his promise and refused to pay him the full sum.
The piper left the town angrily, vowing to return later to take revenge.
On Saint John and Paul’s day while the Hamelinites were in church, the piper returned dressed in green like a hunter playing his pipe. He attracted the town’s children. One hundred and thirty children followed him out of town and into a cave and were never seen again.
Depending on the version, at most one/two/three children remained behind: One was lame and could not follow quickly enough, the second was deaf and therefore could not hear the music, and the last was blind and unable to see where he was going. These three informed the people of what had happened when they came out from church.
They searched a lot but due to a bad wi-fi connection, they could not inform Liam Neeson
And so the children remained in disappeared mode.
Now we can all agree that this is one weirdass story. You might think that this is all a figment of someone like Stephen King or Arvind Kejriwal’s imagination. But apparently, its based on a true story type thingy.
The town’s oldest record, dated 1384, states “It is 100 years since our children left.” There is also a long standing law dating back to medieval times that no music is allowed to be played and dancing is prohibited on a certain street in memory of those children that were “lost.” Until the middle of the eighteenth century, and probably still today, the street through which the children were led out to the town gate was called the bunge-lose (drumless, soundless, quiet) street, because no dancing or music was allowed there. Whenever bridal processions on their way to church cross this street, the musicians would have to stop playing.
The earliest known record of this story is from the town of Hamelin itself depicted in a stained glass window created for the church of Hamelin, which dates to around 1300 AD. Although it was destroyed in 1660, several written accounts have survived.
The oldest comes from the Lueneburg manuscript (c 1440 – 50), which stated: “In the year of 1284, on the day of Saints John and Paul on June 26, by a piper, clothed in many kinds of colours, 130 children born in Hamelin were seduced, and lost at the place of execution near the koppen.”
The following lines were inscribed on the 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.
And on the new gate was inscribed: Centum ter denos cum magus ab urbe puellos duxerat ante annos CCLXXII condita porta fuit. [This gate was built 272 years after the magician led the 130 children from the city.]
In the year 1572 the mayor had the story portrayed in the church windows. The accompanying inscription has become largely illegible. In addition, a coin was minted in memory of the event.
So if its true, then it begs the question of what really happened? And also, is it the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
As usual, since there is no eye witness accounts, there are many theories.
The Pied Piper Theories
- Theory Uno – The Effing Plague
They catapulted dead bodies infected with the plague into the city of Kaffa, forcing the people of flee to Italy with the damn disease and in a domino effect it spread throughout Europe.
The bubonic plague was one of the deadliest pandemics in recorded history, striking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. It was spread by rats, which carried fleas and which, in turn, carried the bubonic bacterium. When the rats died, the fleas turned to human hosts – infecting them as well.
So, the Pied Piper is a personification of death, who first killed the rats and then killed the children.
However, most researchers disregard this theory. This is due to the fact that the plague did not reach Europe until the mid-1300s. The children left (or were taken) nearly 100 years earlier.
2. Theory Dos – Death, not Plague
We go into symbolic territory here. Some suggest that the Pied Piper was the anthromorphic/symbolic figure of death and that the children died in a disease or in a natural calamity like landslide or drowned in the River Wesser.
The medieval Dance of Death is presented to support this theory.
3. Theory Tres – Pedo
This theory suggests that Pied Piper was a Pedophile who lured/kidnapped the children.
Not many takes of this theory though, mainly because of the numbers involved
4. Theory Quatro – Goddamn Crusades
You know how many crusades there have been?
More than a dozen
You know how many of them were successful? Let’s see
3rd Crusade – Stalemate
4th Crusade – Instead of fighting Saladin, Venice bribed/hijacked the crusade and sacked Constantinople
The Albigensian Crusade – Disqualified as a true crusade because it was Crusaders vs Cathar French
6th Crusade – In a way the most successful; Holy Roman Emperor Frederic II led the campaign and shortly after arriving at the Holy Land, entered into negotiations with the Egyptian sultan who agreed to cease Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem and other holy cities to the Christians.
7th Crusade – The leader French king Louis IX somehow manged to get himself taken as prisoner
8th Crusade – Louis IX thought that second time will be the charm; the crusader army reached Tunis and them promptly fell sick; the king died, the army sailed back
9th Crusade – English prince Edward launched crusade in 1271 but saw that nobody else was interested; news from England about his father’s illness prompted him to return home.
In 1297 Pope Boniface VIII preached a crusade against the Colonnas, a powerful Italian family that regarded the papacy almost as its hereditary possession, and that felt free to take papal treasure at will. The crusade was announced, but Colonna forces captured the Pope.
King Peter I of Cyprus organised his own crusade, which attacked and took Alexandria in 1365. Crusaders massacred native Christians indiscriminately along with Jews and Muslims. Some 5,000 survivors, representing all three religions, were sold into slavery. Peter was assassinated in 1369, and a peace treaty was signed the following year.
In the fifteenth century, Pope Martin V organised an unsuccessful crusade against the Hussites, a Christian sect in Bohemia.
Pope Eugene IV tried to organise another crusade to recover the Holy Land, but it was a failure.
A few years later Cardinal Cesarini persuaded the King of Hungary to support another crusade against the Turks. Battle was joined at Varni in Bulgaria, in 1444, where the Christian forces were roundly defeated, leaving Cardinal Cesarini amongst the dead.
In 1453 the Turks sacked Constantinople. Pope Nicholas V tried to organise a crusade to recover the city, but it was yet another failure.
Pope Callistus III did manage to organise one but it was diverted and finished up attacking Genoa.
Pope Pius II was so keen to revive the Crusades that he went himself, but hardly anyone else could be coerced into going with him. He waited near the coast at Ancona in the summer of 1464, hoping for others to turn up. When a few Venetian galleys hove into sight His Holiness died, apparently of excitement, and the crusade was promptly abandoned.
So you see, barring a couple, the others were tremendously glorious failures (more or less like Arsenal in Europe)
So, to become the worst crusade of all time would really take some doing right?
The worst one was none of the above – it was the Children’s Crusade.
In the early 12th century, several thousand children set out to the Holy Land. The “Crusade” was preached in France by a peasant boy named Stephen from a village near Vendome in France, and a boy named Nicholas from Cologne in Germany, encouraged in both places by the local clergy. The idea was that the knightly army failed to capture Jerusalem and other holy places due to impurity and that children would succeed with their innocence.
He led his followers south towards the Mediterranean Sea, in the belief that the sea would part on their arrival, allowing him and his followers to march to Jerusalem, but this did not happen. Two merchants (Hugh the Iron and William of Posqueres) offered the children free passage on boats but they were actually either taken to Tunisia and sold into slavery, or died in a shipwreck on San Pietro Island off Sardinia during a gale.
The Pied Piper – one of the recruiters of the Children’s Crusade.
5. Theory Cinco
6. Theory Seis – Farage and Trump’s worst nightmare
Today, most historians believe that it is most likely that the children of Hamelin left in great numbers to found their own colonies in Eastern Europe, again with a leader personified by the Pied Piper. However, there is still some disagreement about where precisely they settled.
The Grimm brothers’ story, as well as Robert Browning’s 1842 poem on the subject, relates that the children of Hamelin became the founders of Transylvania. Many researchers believe that this Children’s Crusade did not succeed and Hamelin’s children, along with the wandering poor, stopped in what is now Romania and started the settlement of Transylvania, just as the Grimm’s stated, possibly even becoming the founders of the Gypsy (or Romani) way of life. In his book, The Pied Piper: A Handbook, Wolfgang Mieder states that historical documents exist showing that people from the area including Hamelin did help settle parts of Transylvania.
More recent historians have suggested that the children formed colonies in Maehren, Oelmutz, or Ueckermark in Eastern Europe. Place names in areas east of Hamelin, as well as the documentation of many cities being founded around this time, corroborates this theory.
The official website for the town of Hamelin presents another aspect of the emigration theory:
Among the various interpretations, reference to the colonization of East Europe starting from Low Germany is the most plausible one: The “Children of Hameln” would have been in those days citizens willing to emigrate being recruited by landowners to settle in Moravia, East Prussia, Pomerania or in the Teutonic Land. It is assumed that in past times all people of a town were referred to as “children of the town” or “town children” as is frequently done today. The “Legend of the children’s Exodus” was later connected to the “Legend of expelling the rats”. This most certainly refers to the rat plagues being a great threat in the medieval milling town and the more or less successful professional rat catchers.
This version states that “children” may simply have referred to residents of Hamelin who chose to emigrate and not necessarily referred to youths.
Historian Ursula Sautter, citing the work of linguist Jurgen Udolph, offers this hypothesis in support of the emigration theory:
“After the defeat of the Danes at the Battle of Bornhöved in 1227,” explains Udolph, “the region south of the Baltic Sea, which was then inhabited by Slavs, became available for colonization by the Germans.” The bishops and dukes of Pomerania, Brandenburg, Uckermark and Prignitz sent out glib “locators,” medieval recruitment officers, offering rich rewards to those who were willing to move to the new lands. Thousands of young adults from Lower Saxony and Westphalia headed east. And as evidence, about a dozen Westphalian place names show up in this area. Indeed there are five villages called Hindenburg running in a straight line from Westphalia to Pomerania, as well as three eastern Spiegelbergs and a trail of etymology from Beverungen south of Hamelin to Beveringen northwest of Berlin to Beweringen in modern Poland.
Genealogist Dick Eastman cited Udolph’s research on Hamelin surnames:
Linguistics professor Jurgen Udolph says that 130 children did vanish on a June day in the year 1284 from the German village of Hamelin (Hameln in German). Udolph entered all the known family names in the village at that time and then started searching for matches elsewhere. He found that the same surnames occur with amazing frequency in Priegnitz and Uckermark, both north of Berlin. He also found the same surnames in the former Pomeranian region, which is now a part of Poland.
Udolph surmises that the children were actually unemployed youths who had been sucked into the German drive to colonize its new settlements in Eastern Europe. The Pied Piper may never have existed as such, but, says the professor, “There were characters known as lokators who roamed northern Germany trying to recruit settlers for the East.” Some of them were brightly dressed, and all were silver-tongued.
Professor Udolph also claims that the Hamelin exodus should be linked with the Battle of Bornhoeved in 1227 which broke the Danish hold on Eastern Europe. By the latter part of the thirteenth century there were systematic attempts to bring able-bodied youths to Brandenburg and Pomerania. The settlement, according to the professor’s name search, ended up near Starogard in what is now northwestern Poland. A village near Hamelin, for example, is called Beverungen and has an almost exact counterpart called Beveringen, near Pritzwalk, north of Berlin and another called Beweringen, near Starogard.
Local Polish telephone books list names that are not the typical Slavic names one would expect in that region. Instead, many of the names seem to be derived from German names that were common in the village of Hamelin in the thirteenth century. In fact, the names in today’s Polish telephone directories include Hamel, Hamler and Hamelnikow, all apparently derived from the name of the original village
So, there you go.
So many different theories, some more plausible than others.
Maybe, as it tends to be in cases of folklore, myths, oral traditions etc, its probably a mixture of stuff. Some people migrated, some people followed that idiotic crusade, some died in the plague and in time, all of that got hodgepodged together to raise the myth of the Pied Piper.
Great story though.