Timeline of Romani history

The Roma have long been a part of the collective mythology of the West, where they were (and very often still are) depicted as outsiders, aliens, and a threat. For centuries they were enslaved in Eastern Europe and hunted in Western Europe: the Pořajmos, Hitler's attempt at genocide, was one violent link in a chain of persecution that encompassed countries generally considered more tolerant of minorities, such as the United Kingdom and Denmark. Even today, while there is a surge of Roma self-identification and pride, restrictive measures are being debated and passed by democratic states to curb the rights of the Roma people.

It is generally thought that the Roma, because they had no written language until relatively recently, have origins obscured by some mythical past. Although there are many unanswered questions, much more is known about the Roma than is assumed. The greater problem in attempting a comprehensive history of the Roma is their distribution, not only throughout Europe, but also in the Middle East and the Americas. In each region, Roma history diverged, depending on the attitudes of the host population. For instance, although slavery and serfdom are key themes in the history of Roma in the Balkans, other forms of persecution, including early forms of genocide, are preponderant in Western Europe.

What is not often considered is how the implications of this shatter traditional myths about the Roma. For example, Gypsies are considered to be nomadic, which was largely true in Western Europe; however, the fact that they were slaves and serfs in the Balkans since at least the 1400s (and until the late 1800s) implies that they were settled. In other words, their actual status in Romania contradicts the mythological associations of Gypsies with nomadism prevalent (and not without basis) in Britain.


c. 1000-1050: Groups of Rajputs begin migration out of northern India toward Persia and Armenia.

c. 1100: Roma recorded in the Byzantine Empire.

1300s : Roma already settled in Wallachia and Serbia, where they are perceived as aliens and enslaved.

1407: Roma recorded living in Germany—within ten years they are expelled.

1418: Roma recorded in France

1422: Roma recorded in Rome.

1425: Roma recorded in Spain.

1471: Anti-Gypsy laws passed in Switzerland.

1492: Spain passes anti-Gypsy laws and subjects Roma to the Inquisition as heretics.

1498: Roma settlement in the Americas begins, when four Gypsies accompany Christopher Columbus on his Third Voyage.

1502: Louis XII expels the Roma from France.

1526: Henry VIII expels the Roma from England. Roma caught entering England are to be punished with death.

1530: Egyptians Act 1530 passed in England.

1538: Portugal expels Roma to Brazil.

1560: In Sweden, the Lutheran Church forbids any dealings with Roma.

1563: Roma are denied entrance into the priesthood by the Council of Trent.

1589: Denmark imposes a death sentence on any Roma caught in the country.

1595: Ştefan Răzvan, son of a Romani immigrant from the Ottoman Empire, rules Moldavia for four months.

1619: Philip III of Spain orders all Roma to settle down and abandon their traditional lifestyle and culture. Failure to do so is punishable by death.

1936-1945: Nazis begin systematic persecution of Roma, culminating in Porajmos.

2006 January: The University of Manchester has completed its " [Romani] project", the first morphologic study aiming to collect all the dialects of Roma language throughout Europe and dealing with their coherency. [http://www.llc.manchester.ac.uk/Research/Projects/romani/]

2006 -: The first entirely Roma party has been founded in Hungary, called the "MCF Roma összefogás" (MCF Roma Union), although they reached only the 0,08% of total votes (from a total population registered for voting around 8 million people) at the parliementary elections held on April 9, 2006. [http://www.romaosszefogas.hu/index.php?tid=16&part=main&id=36]

External links

* [http://www.geocities.com/~Patrin/timeline.htm Timeline of Romani History] - Patrin Web Journal
* [http://www.radoc.net/chronology.html A Chronology of significant dates in Romani history] - Romani Archive and Documentation Center

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