Who or what was The Pied Piper?

In 1660, the cathedral in Hamelin, Germany burned. It took with it the first know account of a story that has been passed down for hundreds of years. The church was built in 1300 and had a large stained glass mosaic depicting a man dressed in colorful clothing, playing a long pipe and following behind him were several children dressed in white. To the virgin eye, it may have been an innocent depiction of children dancing to a jesters music. But to the people of Hamelin, it was something far more troubling… The very first town record ever written down in Hamelin, in 1384, is actually about this very strange event;… “it is 100 years since our children left”…

You see, in around the year of 1284, the village of Hamelin had a massive plague of rats infesting the town. Hamelin was a mill city, meaning its primary industry was grinding flour. Rats are naturally drawn to such industries due to the abundance of food. But they also had a nasty habit for carrying fleas infected with black plague. But at some point a mysterious stranger wandered into town and promised he could get rid of all the rats in Hamelin…for a price of course. The townsmen agreed and the piper went to work. Playing his magical instrument and leading the infestation of rats out into the forest, never to be seen again. But when the piper returned for his payment, the townsmen had decided to deny him his payment. The piper was angry. For his good deed, he had received nothing. For no good deed goes un-punished as some would say. The piper wandered back into the village, this time, he would take something else off into the forest to never be seen again…all of the children of Hamelin. An entire generation would disappear from the village. Lost to the void of history. It is said he led these children to a hole or a portal in the mountain nearby. What could this have been? What was this ‘pied piper’? Was this just a fairy tale to teach children not to go near strangers or warning against going back on your word or having bad accounting? Or was the piper some demonic being preying on innocence. Stealing the most valuable resource Hamelin had: its future….


Its unlikely we will ever know if this particularly interesting fairytale will ever be proven to be true or not. But it begs to be investigated further. For it to be immortalized in the stained glass of a cathedral, the people of the town must have had great feelings about it. Powerful emotions and the want for this story to be passed along. To be remembered by all who knelt to pray at the alter. To never forget the day the children of Hamelin were taken, never to return….


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