I found a book in the library the other day (a young adult book) called "What happened in Hamelin." Since I love historical fiction I decided to give it a whirl. It is of course, based on the story of the Pied Piper. I remember feeling a shiver, or a thrill at something creepy and not quite right about that story when I was little, and to be honest, I have never really thought much about it. Since I wanted to read this book, I decided to research the history behind the story. This how it played out.
There is a replica of a stained glass window from the 1300s in a church in Hamelin, (the original was destroyed) that shows a large group of children following a man in multi-colored clothing playing a flute. The inscription below, which is from the 1300s reads:
In the year of 1284, on John's and Paul's day
was the 26th of June.
By a piper, dressed in all kind of colors,
130 children born in Hamelin were seduced
and lost at the calvarie near the koppen.
Another theory is that a disease, not unlike the black plague swept through the village, killing many of the children and elderly, who would have been the weakest. In the middle ages, (so I read) death was often portrayed wearing multi-colored clothing, so this theory would make sense as far as the figure in the picture in the stained glass window. Although to be honest, I was hard pressed to find such an image of death when I searched.
It is always possible that these children were led away by some strange deviant who killed them, but such a large number is unlikely. Of course, one must remember Michael Jackson and Neverland Ranch, a children's paradise created by a very strange and charismatic man...so it is entirely possible. Never the less, The Pied Piper remains a fairy tale mystery. In 1284 something very bad happened in the town of Hamelin, but unless some new primary source is found, we will most likely never know exactly what that thing was.