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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

While Clement proceeded to Avignon


If,

however, there is any doubt as to the country which they left on entering Europe, and their place of origin, there remains for us to consider the people generally, and in an especial manner those who have located themselves in Scotland; and give an account of their subsequent history in its various aspects, and their present condition. But before doing that, it would be well to take a general but cursory view of the political as well as social condition of Europe at the time they made their appearance in it, so as, in some measure, to account for the circumstance of no trace being left of their previous history; form an estimate of the relative position in which they have stood to its general population since; and attempt to realize the feeling with which they have always been regarded by our own people, so as to account for that singular degree of dread and awe which have always been associated with the mention of their name; the foundation of which has been laid in infancy.

That which most forcibly strikes the mind of the student, in reading the history of the age in which the Gipsies entered Europe, is the political turmoil in which nearly the whole of the continent seems to have been embroiled for the greater part of a century. The desperate wars waged by England against what has been termed her natural enemy, for the recovery and retention of her ancient continental possessions, and the struggle of the other for her bare existence; the long

and bloody civil wars of England, and the distracted state of France, torn with dissensions within, and menaced at various points from without; the long and fanatical struggle of religion and race, between the Spaniards and their invaders, for the possession of the peninsula; the brave stand made by the Swiss for that independence so much theirs by nature; the religious wars of the Hussites, and the commotions throughout central Europe; the perpetual internal feuds of the corrupt and turbulent southern republics; the approaching dissolution of the dissolute Byzantine empire; the appalling progress of that terrible power that had emerged from the wilds of Asia, subdued the empire, and threatened Europe from its vulnerable point; all these seem to have been enough to have engrossed the mental energies of the various countries of Europe, and prevented any notice being taken of the appearance of the race in question.

But over and above these convulsions, sufficient as they were to exclusively engage the attention of the small amount of cultivated intellect then in the world, there was one that was calculated even to paralyze the clergy, to whom, in that age, fell the business of recording passing events, and which seems to have prevented their even taking notice of important matters in the history of that time. I mean the schism that for so long rent the church into fragments, the greatest schism, indeed, that the world ever saw, when, for so many years, two and even three Popes reigned at once, each anathematizing and excommunicating the other, for a schism which, after an infinity of intrigues, was ultimately so happily patched up to the comfort of the church. On the death of Urban V, Gregory XI became Pope, but soon after died, and was succeeded by Urban VI; but the Cardinals, who were in the French interest, after treating him as Pope for a short time, annulled the whole proceedings, on the plea of having been constrained in the election by the turbulence of the Roman populace, but really on account of the extraordinary harshness with which he began his reign, and chose one of themselves in his stead, under the name of Clement VII. The former remained at Rome, and was supported by Italy, the Empire, England and the North; while Clement proceeded to Avignon, and was acknowledged by France, Spain, Scotland, and Sicily. Urban


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