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Gypsies in Europe - pre 20th Century

History of Persecution

Persecution Prior to the 20th Century

Germany

The Gypsies first appeared in Germany in 1407.

1416

The first anti-Gypsy law was passed (the first of 48 such laws between then and 1774).

1449

The Gypsies were driven out of Frankfurt-am-Main by force.

1496, 1497, 1498

The Reichstag meetings in Frelbourg and landau accused the Gypsies of being foreign spies, carriers of plague and traitors to Christendom, practising witchcraft, banditry and cannibalism.

1500

All Gypsies were ordered out of Germany by Emperor Maximilian and by the same law they could be killed with impunity.

1579

They were banished from Saxony.

The Gypsies were deprived of travel documents in Augsburg.
1531 and Saxony 1579 and banished.

Death penalty for Gypsies found in Saxony 1661, Mainz 1714 and Prussia 1725.

Norway

1687

Law stating that Gypsies had to be arrested, their property confiscated, the leaders killed and the rest expelled. Punishment also for those who helped them.

These decrees stayed in force until 1845.

1845 onwards

Nomadism forbidden and Traveller trades banned.

Sweden

1580

Clergy forbidden by the Church to baptise or bury Gypsies.

1637

Gypsies banished, those remaining could be killed without trial.

In the 18th and 19th centuries further decrees against Gypsies, who were not legally admitted until 1954.

The Netherlands

1525

The Gypsies were banished by decree.

1533

The penalties against Gypsies included confiscation of property, flogging and branding.

In the 17th and 18th centuries there were "Gypsy Hunts" by soldiers and police; anyone could lawfully kill a Gypsy

Switzerland

1514

"Gypsy Hunts" encouraged as a means of driving out the Gypsies.

1580

Gypsies put top the rack or released to be killed as free game.

1648

Everyone given the right to kill Gypsies.

1727

Gypsies prohibited on pain of mutilation or death.

France

1504

Gypsies banished by law.

1510

Death penalty for Gypsies remaining in France

Between 1539 and 1784 13 anti-Gypsy laws passed banishing them or punishing them because they were Gypsies. Sentences included corporal punishment (for men and women), being sent as galley slaves, deportation, confinement to the workhouse, branding and imprisonment.

England

1530

Ban on the entry of Gypsies and notice given to all Gypsies to leave the country.

1551-2

Gypsies needed licence to travel from place to place.

1554

Death penalty for Gypsies remaining in the country more than one month.

1562

Law repeated and extended. Laws relating to rogues and vagabonds 1596, 1743, 1783, 1822 and 1824 applied specifically against Gypsies. Later in the 19th and 20th centuries Public Health Acts were used against Gypsies.

Austria

1781

Onwards Empress Maria Theresa forced settlement on Gypsies, taking away children to be fostered by non-Gypsies, even making marriage difficult.

Roumania

From the 14th century Gypsies became bonded serfs. Restrictions in the Civil Codes applied to Gypsy serfs limiting their marriage and making them slaves from birth. 1856 Gypsy slavery was abolished. 200,000 Gypsies were freed.

Denmark

1536

All Gypsies expelled.

1554, 1581, 1570 and 1574

Law repeated. Remaining Gypsies sentenced to forced labour.

1589

Gypsies banished on pain of death. Gypsy leaders executed immediately.

1615, 1643

This law repeated. 1683 Sailors forbidden to carry Gypsies on their ships, ships confiscated if they did.

1708

Death penalty replaced by total banishment of all Gypsies. Fines for anyone who employed Gypsies.

In the 19th Century Gypsy trades obstructed by police regulations and surveillance.

Around the site

Gypsies in England

From the First record of Gypsies in Britain in 1505 to the Criminal Justice Act abolishing Caravan Sites Act in 1994 leaving Gypsy families homeless. See the whole history here.

More

Also read about

The German Occupation of Europe

How Gypsies and Travellers suffered during the German Occupation of Europe - country by country.

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