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The Pied Piper Makes Off with 130 Children!

"It is 100 years since our children left." -- The Hamelin Town Chronicles, 1384.

You now know all the facts available. The children left and the town mourned their leaving. There are no primary sources. There was a stained-glass window in a Hamelin church, now destroyed, showing a piper and children. No rats. In the 16th century rats were added to the story, probably because of memories of plague rats. Most likely the children left for Transylvania because younger Germans (not necessarily little children) were moving to empty lands since their elder siblings inherited anything of worth, leaving the young to serve as their serfs. There is also a suggestion that they joined the so-called "Children's Crusade" but most scholars have doubts about that theory. Your guess is as good as mine. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The story points to the problem of inheritance where one was not allowed to move around much. It wasn't just a problem for noblemen. On the other hand, there wasn't much of a retirement plan in those days so you had to produce as many children as possible in the hope that enough would survive to adulthood to take care of you in your dotage. But what happens when too many children survive? They needed to move on to other lands.

Venetian Ducat Sets the Standard for Gold Coins

International commerce in the Middle Ages suffers from an inconsistency of coinage. With kings reducing the content of precious metals even well known coinage must be assayed, a time-consuming process. The Byzantium Emperor has devalued the Hyperpyron coin yet again in order to finance the defense of the Empire. It is difficult for Venice to buy Byzantium goods and then sell those goods to others without a consistent currency.

Venice solves the problem by producing their own full-value gold coin. The Venetian Ducat consists of 0.1107 Troy ounces of gold no matter what. The equivalent value in modern dollars is $137.89 as of 2014-Jan-12. The Venetian Ducat (also called the zecchino after the name of the Mint) has been in local use for some time but the coins will be used for international purposes beginning this year. It will become the standard throughout Europe and remain so for centuries to come. [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
One wonders how to stamp a value on a coin and not have that value be radically different from the actual metal content. Venice solved the problem by having a consistent metal content and letting the value of the coin fluctuate. In other words... if I stamp a value on a coin but the value of the metal content is less the the value stamped on the coin, it will take more coins to buy the same goods. But if the value of the metal is more than the value stamped on the coin, the coin will be melted down and sold for the metal content. But if there is no value stamped on the coin, and its metal content is consistent, known and trusted, all you need is the conversion rate of the metal content of the coin to know its value across continents.

The Emperor Weds an 11 year old

The New Byzantium Emperor has a problem with legitimacy. His father, derived his legitimacy from certain declarations from the Pope, but once his father was excommunicated, not only was the Emperor-ship in doubt but so was the succession. Andronikos II must marry into a credible noble family to gain that legitimacy. Luckily his wife has just died, if one can call that luck. He marries the eleven year old Yolande of Montferrat. With her comes the Montferrat rights to the kingdom of Thessalonica.

But legitimacy is not the Emperor's only problem. He is running out of money and even devaluing the Hyperpyron will not be enough to save the Empire. In a move that defies logic, he will cut back on the cost of its defense by letting go of his most experienced mercenaries and hire much cheaper but less experienced warriors. [16] [17]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
According to the dates of the birth of Yolande of Montferrat's children she will give birth to her first when she reaches the age 13 which seems young even for those days. But her actual date of birth is indeterminate. She may have been older. It is unclear why Andronikos II thought letting his best mercenaries go was a good idea. Certainly they cost a lot of money but he had a smaller population from which he could draw new troops to replace them and they were not battle experienced. The Emperor is on the defensive, no question, and these cutbacks are going to bite him in the backside soon.

See Also


  1. The Pied Piper of Hameln and related legends from other towns, translated and/or edited by Professor D. L. Ashliman, University of Pittsburg
  2. Reader's Digest the Truth about History: How New Evidence is Transforming the Story of the Past: The Real Pied Piper, Readers Digest, 2004, p. 294
  3. The Pied Piper: a Handbook by Wolfgang Mieder, 2007
  4. The Lost Children of Hamelin by Maria J. Pérez Cuervo, June 2010, Fortean Times
  5. Historical Events for Year 1284, History Orb
  6. Pied Piper of Hamelin, Wikipedia
  7. Pied/Piebald, Wikipedia
  8. The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning, Illustrated by Kate Greenaway, 1888
  9. True Story The Pied Piper of Hamelin Never Piped, David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace, 1975-1981, originally from The People's Almanac
  10. Ducat: History, from AskDefine drawing from Wiktionary and Wikipedia
  11. The Ducat by Doug Prather, World Internet Numismatic Society, 2004-2007
  12. Ask Historians: The Venetian Ducat, Hoyarugby (college student) on Reddit's Ask Historians
  13. Ducat, Wikipedia
  14. The Value of Gold from a Grain to a Ton, (GOLD VALUE CALCULATOR)
  15. Hyperpyron, Wikipedia
  16. Byzantium: Volume 3: Decline and Fall, John Julius Norwich, pp 258-259
  17. Yolanda/Irene/Erene of Montferrat, Wikipedia

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