Pied Piper of Hamelin

The Disturbing True Story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin

(Read the article on one page)

When, lo! as they reached the mountain-side, 
A wondrous portal opened wide,
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed;
And the Piper advanced and the children followed,
And when all were in to the very last,
The door in the mountain-side shut fast.

Robert Browning, The Pied Piper of Hamelin: A Child’s Story

Many are familiar with the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Few realise however, that the story is based on real events, which evolved over the years into a fairy tale made to scare children.

For those unfamiliar with the tale, it is set in 1284 in the town of Hamelin, Lower Saxony, Germany. This town was facing a rat infestation, and a piper, dressed in a coat of many coloured, bright cloth, appeared. This piper promised to get rid of the rats in return for a payment, to which the townspeople agreed too. Although the piper got rid of the rats by leading them away with his music, the people of Hamelin reneged on their promise. The furious piper left, vowing revenge. On the 26 th of July of that same year, the piper returned and led the children away, never to be seen again, just as he did the rats. Nevertheless, one or three children were left behind, depending on which version is being told. One of these children was lame, and could not keep up, another was deaf and could not hear the music, while the third one was blind and could not see where he was going.

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 oldest known picture of the Pied Piper

The oldest known picture of the Pied Piper copied from the glass window of the Market Church in Hameln/Hamelin Germany (c.1300-1633). Image source: Wikimedia.

The supposed street where the children were last seen is today called Bungelosenstrasse (street without drums), as no one is allowed to play music or dance there. Incidentally, it is said that the rats were absent from earlier accounts, and only added to the story around the middle of the 16 th century. Moreover, the stained glass window and other primary written sources do not speak of the plague of rats.

If the children’s disappearance was not an act of revenge, then what was its cause? There have been numerous theories trying to explain what happened to the children of Hamelin. For instance, one theory suggests that the children died of some natural causes, and that the Pied Piper was the personification of Death. By associating the rats with the Black Death, it has been suggested that the children were victims of this plague. Yet, the Black Death was most severe in Europe between 1348 and 1350, more than half a century after the event in Hamelin. Another theory suggests that the children were actually sent away by their parents, due to the extreme poverty that they were living in. Yet another theory speculates that the children were participants of a doomed ‘Children’s Crusade’, and might have ended up in modern day Romania, or that the departure of Hamelin's children is tied to the Ostsiedlung, in which a number of Germans left their homes to colonize Eastern Europe. One of the darker theories even proposes that the Pied Piper was actually a paedophile who crept into the town of Hamelin to abduct children during their sleep.

One of the darker themed representations of the Pied Piper of Hamelin

One of the darker themed representations of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Credit: Lui-Gon-Jinn

Historical records suggest that the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin was a real event that took place. Nevertheless, the transmission of this story undoubtedly evolved and changed over the centuries, although to what extent is unknown, and the mystery of what really happened to those children has never been solved. The story also raises the question, if the Pied Piper of Hamelin was based on reality, how much truth is there in other fairy tales that we were told as children?

Featured image: An illustration of the Pied Piper of Hamelin . Credit: Monlster

Comments

Very true! Great observation. It's one of few stories that have a deffined source and are not all over the place. Which really makes you think.

Tsurugi's picture

Excellent point. Most "fairy tales" start with "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away".....

Pied Piper may be an instance of Satan appearing in the guise of a helpful piper and Paul described him as being able to transform himself into an angel of light in 2 Corinthians 11:14 which is practically the same as the description of him when first created recorded at Ezekiel 28:13"You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz and the diamond; The beryl, the onyx and the jasper; The lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, Was in you. On the day that you were created They were prepared. 14"You were the anointed cherub who covers, And I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire. 15"You were blameless in your ways From the day you were created Until unrighteousness was found in you.…

That 'coat' would certainly be 'pied' and bewitching?

Satan has constantly appeared as visions such as to Bernadette at Lourdes, Joseph Smith, etc so it is no wonder there are so many local legends of marvellous beings doing amazing good or bad deeds?
As Satan is quite happy to appear as a good or evil being to further his agenda of fostering disbelief in God and Jesus he is no doubt behind many miraculous or evil events where some spirit being is seen.

Nice revelation. Thank you.
"People,
According to this European folk legend, there is a portal along the side of a hill which leads to a cavern world below. We hardly have to go to the Andes or anywhere exotic to find underground worlds. Try downtown Hamelin, in modern Germany. There is no reason to discard this folktale; folktale information is practically the only source that we have."

The deep underground dwellings of reptilian shapeshifters have been around for a long time. Portals which open in mountains are not imagination. And under what negative influence do you suppose men have created their numerous grim, deep underground bases? Check it out online. Especially the one under the Denver Airport.

Most fairy tales we are familiar with were done by Grimm. Define Grim: 'dismal or gloomy, repellent or horrifying. Harshly ironic or sinister. Cruel, severe or ghastly. Forbidding or morbid.' like the persons who inhabit underground and have corrupted the entertainers and world leaders. "Brothers Grimm..., so much darker than Disney will ever be. Try reading the Grimm's original version of Cinderella. Bloody stuff." "Brother Grimm, they are the stories everyone grew up with. I must say that after reading the original versions that these were not stories intended for children."

Tsurugi's picture

Can't......can't tell if sarcastic or serious....

Pages

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

Statue of Roman Soldier (Public Domain), and Roman Cavalry Reenactment  (CodrinB/CC BY-SA 3.0); Deriv.
With the Amanus Pass secured, Roman general Publius Ventidius Bassus, on the mission given by Antony to retake Asia-Minor, pushed south into Syria. Prince Pacorus of Parthia of was done fighting, at least for now, and abandoned the province to the Romans in late 39 BCE. With the Parthians out of the way, Ventidius led his forces to the province of Judea.

Human Origins

Thinking Man? By Moncloa
Homo Sapiens represents the last of a long line of hominin races that once consisted of five different species spanning four continents. Today, we are the last humans, that is, the last of the genus Homo. Our closest living relatives are chimpanzees and gorillas. We, however, stand out in many ways from them. We have unparalleled capacities for abstract thought, language skills, and social cohesion.

Ancient Places

Sculpture of a head from 950-1150 AD found at Building Y in the Tajin Chico section. On display at the Tajin site museum, Veracruz state, Mexico
El Tajin is a Mesoamerican archaeological site located in the North of the state of Veracruz, near the Gulf Coast of Mexico. The city, one of the most flourishing of the Classic and early Post-classic period, was only rediscovered in 1785, immediately capturing the imagination of European travelers with its imposing jungle-covered ruins and unusual architecture.

Opinion

Sculpture of a head from 950-1150 AD found at Building Y in the Tajin Chico section. On display at the Tajin site museum, Veracruz state, Mexico
El Tajin is a Mesoamerican archaeological site located in the North of the state of Veracruz, near the Gulf Coast of Mexico. The city, one of the most flourishing of the Classic and early Post-classic period, was only rediscovered in 1785, immediately capturing the imagination of European travelers with its imposing jungle-covered ruins and unusual architecture.

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article