GYPSIES SPEAK. AN ANALYSIS OF THE PETITIONS
OF THE GYPSY SLAVES IN THE ROMANIAN
PRINCIPALITIES, C. 1835 - C. 18551
Nicolae Iorga Institute of History
This paper deals with the petitions the Gypsies – slaves or freemen – in Wallachia and Moldavia addressed to the central and regional authorities, but also to monasteries and other public organisations, private foundations, and slave or estate owners between forth-sixth decades of the nineteenth century. The paper makes a typology of these documents according to their content and presents a number of petitions that illustrate some of the most frequently addressed issues. Petitioners were either Gypsy sheriffs, who were intermediating the Gypsies’ relationship with their master and the state authorities, or ordinary Gypsies, members of a group or individuals living separately. Some petitions are individual, but most of them speak on behalf of a group. By their topic, the petitions are mirroring the issues Gypsies were facing in that era. They refer to a large range of issues. During the slavery, the highest number of petitions relate to the abuses made by the servants of the masters or by the tenants of the estates where Gypsies worked and after the emancipation laws of 1855-1856, most petitions refer to the
issue of resettlement on another estate. There is a certain dynamics of the content of the petitions, which is actually the dynamics of the “Gypsy problem” in the period under discussion. These petitions are important for understandind the history of the Romanian Gypsies during the period of their emancipation from slavery. They also allow knowing how Gypsies were thinking about different issues.
In: Kyuchukov, Hristo; Elena Marushiakova; and Vesselin Popov (eds.). 2016. Roma: Past, present, future. ISBN 9783862887361: 56-67. (pdf e-paper).
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