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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Francis I passed an edict for their expulsion


[29] Bright.

With the exception of Hungary and Transylvania, it is believed that every state in Europe attempted either their expulsion or extermination; but, notwithstanding the dreadful severity of the numerous laws and edicts promulgated against them, they remained in every part of Europe, in defiance of every effort made by their respective governments to get rid of their unwelcome guests.

"German writers say that King Ferdinand of Spain, who esteemed it a good work to expatriate useful and profitable subjects--Jews, and even Moorish families--could much less be guilty of an impropriety, in laying hands on the mischievous progeny of Gipsies. The edict for their extermination was published in the year 1492. But, instead of passing the boundaries, they only slunk into hiding places, and shortly after appeared in as great numbers as before. The Emperor, Charles V, persecuted them afresh; as did Philip II. Since that time, they nestled in again, and were threatened with another storm, but it blew over without taking effect.

"In France, Francis I passed an edict for their expulsion, and at the assembly of the states of Orleans, in 1561, all governors of cities received orders to drive them out with fire and sword. Nevertheless, in process of time, they collected again, and encreased to such a degree that, in 1612, a new order came out for their extermination. In the year 1572,

they were compelled to retire from the territories of Milan and Parma; and, at a period somewhat earlier, they were chased beyond the Venetian jurisdiction.

"They were not allowed the privilege of remaining in Denmark, as the code of Danish law specifies: 'The Tartar Gipsies, who wander about everywhere, doing great damage to the people, by their lies, thefts and witchcraft, shall be taken into custody by every magistrate.' Sweden was not more favourable, having attacked them at three different times. A very sharp order for their expulsion came out in 1662. The diet of 1723 published a second; and that of 1727 repeated the foregoing, with additional severity.

"They were excluded from the Netherlands, under the pain of death, by Charles V, and afterwards, by the United States, in 1582. But the greatest number of sentences of exile have been pronounced against them in Germany. The beginning was made under Maximilian I, at the Augsburg Diet, in 1500; and the same business occupied the attention of the Diet in 1530, 1544, 1548, and 1551; and was also again enforced, in the improved police regulations of Frankfort, in 1577."[30] The Germans entertained the notion that the Gipsies were spies for the Turks. They were not allowed to pass through, remain, or trade within the Empire. They were ordered to quit entirely the German dominions, by a certain day, and whoever injured them, after that period, was considered to have committed no crime.

[30] Hoyland.

"But a general extermination never did happen, for the law banishing them passed in one state before it was thought of in the next, or when a like order had long become obsolete, and sunk into oblivion. These undesirable guests were, therefore, merely compelled to shift their quarters to an adjoining state, where they remained till the government began to clear them away, upon which the fugitives either retired whence they came, or went on progressively to a third place--thus making a continual circle."[31]


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