Pied Piper Project

History's Villain or History's Victim?

It's Time to Pay the Hamelin Piper

For over six hundred years history has said the Pied Piper of Hamelin was a vengeful ratcatcher who, being unpaid for his services to the town, settled the debt by leading a group of local children to a mysterious fate.

According to common opinion, the children were captivated by the sound of the piper's instrument which, some sources suggested, had magic powers.

There seems little doubt that an extraordinary event involving some 130 children did take place in Hamelin in the 13th or 14th Century, and a musician was involved. But is there a possible alternative to the ratcatcher story that has been passed down to us? Many obvious questions appear to have been overlooked. Here are some of them:

Taking these questions as a starting point for further research, it seems that History's judgement of the Pied Piper of Hamelin may well be erroneous.

Two questions beg to be answered. Is there a simple reason why parents and onlookers might have consented to the procession of the children from the town in the company of a piper who, given that consent, must have been considered trustworthy?

Is there an equally simple explanation for the failure of the children to return - an explanation that does not have them "swallowed by a hill", traveling to a distant land through subterranean passages, or embarking on a crusade that appears to have taken place at least sixty years earlier?

As Shakespeare commented, "truth will see the light". The time has come for a major research effort to shed light on the strange story from Hamelin. It's time History paid the Piper.

Your comments of the Pied Piper of Hamelin will be welcomed by email to: helgamhill@bigpond.com

This discussion paper has been prepared by the Early Arts Guild of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.

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