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Home School Life Journal
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Saint Francis DeSales
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History and Geography Meme 172: Medieval History in Literature: The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning

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First verse The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning


Technically speaking the poem, The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning, is not Medieval literature as it was written in 1842, but since its subject is Medieval, we are studying it during our Medieval studies. The earliest known record of the story is from the town of Hamelin, which is a real town in Germany, and is depicted in a stained glass window created for the church of Hamelin, which dates to around 1300 The church was destroyed in 1660, but several written accounts of the story have survived. 
Although the earliest references describe a piper, dressed in multicolored clothing, the rats were first added to the story from about 1559 and then the pied piper became a rat-catcher hired by the town to lure rats away with his magic pipe. When the citizens refuse to pay for this service, he retaliates by turning his power that he put in his instrument on their children, leading them away as he had the rats. Some theories have been proposed suggesting that the Pied Piper was a symbol of hope to the people of Hamelin which was attacked by plague. He moved all the rats out from the town of Hamelin and thus saving the people from the epidemic disease.  Others think that the story's disappearance of the children are also related to the plague, which may have taken their lives.
Whether or not this part is true, the story gives reason behind the 130 children who disappeared from the town of Hamelin in 1228. Other theories are that the children left town to join the Children's Crusade to reclaim Jerusalem, or that because of overpopulation in Hamelin, a group of young people were sent away to colonize lands in eastern Europe.  

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2 comments:

  1. Interesting story! I recall reading about that when I was a child too - as a Russian fairy tale :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Huh, I hadn't thought of when it was written. You did a good bit of research.

    ReplyDelete

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