01 August 2009

Some Things Never Change: 1600-1900

1619. Philip III declares all Gitanos are to be banished from the kingdom of Spain within six months, or to settle in a locality with over 1,000 inhabitants. The dress, name and language of the Gitanos is banned. The punishment is death.

1637. The first anti-Gypsy law in Sweden is enacted. All Roma should be expelled from the country within one year. If any Roma are found in Sweden after that date the men will be hanged and the women and children will be driven out from the country.

1646. An ordinance passed in Berne gives anyone the right "personally to kill or liquidate by

1661. Johann Georg II, elector of Saxony, imposes the death penalty to any Roma caught in his territory.

1685. Portugal deports Roma to Brasil, and makes it a crime to speak Romani.

1710. In Prague, Joseph I issues an edict that all adult Roma men will be hanged without trial and that boys and women be mutilated. In Bohemia, the left ear is to be cut off. In Moravia the right ear is to be cut off. Lodging or otherwise aiding Roma is punishable by up to six months forced labour. Prince Adolf Frederick of Mecklenburg-Strelitz issues orders that all Roma can be flogged, branded, expelled, or executed if they return. Children under ten are to be removed and raised by Christian families.

1714. British merchants and planters apply to the Privy Council to ship Gypsies to the Caribbean, avowedly to be used as slaves. In Mainz, all Roma are to be executed without trial on the grounds that their way of life is outlawed.

1721. Emperor Karl VI of the Austro-Hungarian empire orders the extermination of Roma throughout his domain.

1726. Gitanos in Spain are forbidden to appeal against the sentences of the courts. Charles VI passes a law that any Rom found in the country are to be killed instantly. Romani women and children are to have their ears cut off and whipped all the way to the border.

1728. The town council of Aachen passes an ordinance condemning Roma to death. "Captured Gypsies, whether they resist or not, shall be put to death immediately. However, those seized who do not resort to counter-attack shall be granted no more than a half an hour to kneel, if they so wish, beg God almighty to forgive them their sins and to prepare themselves for death."

1734. Frederick William I decrees that any Roma caught in his territory, man or woman, will be hanged without trial. A reward is offered.

1745. Gitanos in Spain must settle in assigned places within two weeks. The punishment for failure is execution. "It is legal to fire upon them to take their life." The Churches no longer provide asylum. Armed troops are ordered to comb the countryside.

Early 1800s. "Gypsy hunts" (Heidenjachten) are a common and popular sport in Germany.

1803. Napolean Bonaparte prohibits residence of Roma in France. Children, women and the aged are sentenced to the poor house. Young men are given their choice of joining the navy or army. Adult men are sent to forced labour.

1830. Authorities in Nordhausen, Germany remove Roma children from their families for fostering with non-Roma.

1842. The hospodar of Moldavia, Mihail Sturdza, emancipates all state slaves; however, in Wallachia and Moldavia private ownership of Romani slaves is still legally permitted.

1856. The Slobuzenja. Abolition of slavery in Romania; large-scale emigrations of Roma to western Europe and America begin.

1868. In Holland, Richard Liebich's work on Roma introduces the phrase "lives unworthy of life" with specific reference to them, and later used as a racial category against Roma in Nazi Germany.

1876. Cesare Lombroso publishes his influential work L'uomo deliquente, which contains a lengthy chapter on the genetically criminal character of the Roma. This is translated into many languages, including German and English, and has a profound effect upon western legal attitudes.

1890. The Swabian parliament organizes a conference on the "Gypsy Scum" (Das Zigeunergeschmei├č), and suggests means by which the presence of Roma could be signalled from village to village by ringing church bells. The military is empowered to apprehend and move Roma on.

1899. An Information Agency, the Central Office for Fighting the Gypsy Nuisance (Nachrichtendienst in Bezug auf die Zigeuner), is established in Munich under the direction of Alfred Dillmann to collate reports on Roma movement throughout German lands, and a register of all Gypsies over the age of six is begun. This includes obtaining photographs, fingerprints and other genealogical data, and particularly information relating to "criminality." This leads to two initiatives: Dillmann's Zigeuner-Buch (1905), and the December 1911 conference. This agency does not officially close down until 1970.

Information in this post is taken from the timeline of Romani history on Patrin

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