Roma-Gypsy Presence in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

15th-18th Centuries
$90.00 / €79.00 / £71.00
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Publication date: 
322 pages

This is an analysis of 166 original and previously unpublished documents dating from the very first mention of a Gypsy in 1401 up to the year 1765. These documents range from royal decrees thru lawsuits to entries in municipal records. Some were written in Polish but many are in Latin, German or Ruthenian. They tell the story of not only the Gypsies living in Poland, but also of those who now live in Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and Ukraine.

Though Poland has not traditionally had a large Roma population, the author leads the reader through an eventful history of a people living on the margins of contemporary Europe. The historic documents illustrate a marked contrast to present stereotypes and popular media images and shows how the position of Roma/Gypsies shifted gradually from respected, wealthy and partly settled citizens of the early modern times, towards criminalized vagrants of the 18th century.

This is a careful interpretation and re-interpretation of documents pertaining to the Roma's past that will provide an enlightening historical perspective towards the re-evaluation and self-definition of the Romani people in contemporary Europe.

Preface and Acknowledgements
Chapter 1: The Arrival of the Gypsies to Poland 
Chapter 2: Gypsies in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 16th Century 
Chapter 3: Piotr Rotemberg—A Philistine from Egypt Minor, with His Company 
Chapter 4: “That there should be no Gypsies in the Crown”—Times of Repressions 
Chapter 5: Cultural Adaptation of Gypsies in the 17th Century 
Chapter 6: Gypsy Kings and Elders 
Chapter 7: Gypsies as a Criminal Element in the 18th Century 
Chapter 8: Gypsies at the Landed Properties of the Sanguszko and Radziwiłł Families 
Source Materials 

"2001 veröffentlichte der Kulturanthropologe Lech Mróz mit seiner Monographie eine der bedeutendsten und beeindruckendsten Studien in diesem Forschungsfeld. Sie stützte sich fast ausschließlich auf Archivalien und war dadurch imstande, vollkommenes Neuland zu erschließen. Mit der nun mit einiger zeitlicher Verzögerung erfolgten Übersetzung des polnischen Originals ins Englische wird hoffentlich die Sprachenbarriere durchbrochen, die die Wahrnehmung dieses Bandes bislang selbst in Fachkreisen weitgehend verhindert hat. Mróz schildert die Geschichte der Zigeuner in ihrer ganzen Vielschichtigkeit. Im Bewußtsein darüber, dass Inklusion und Exklusion nur selten in Reinform auftauchen, versucht er die vielen Grauzonen, Übergänge und Arrangements mit der gesellschaftlichen Realität sichtbar zu machen. Mróz’ Monographie bietet aber auch einen Einblick in einige Besonderheiten, die die polnisch-litauische Situation prägen. Manches ungewöhnliche archivalische Material ist dabei dem reinen... more
"This book does a remarkable job covering hundreds of years of history and an impressive number and type of sources. The author expertly explains the nature and value of these sources and demonstrates how they can be used to reveal a surprising amount of detail and paint the contours of social relations among Gypsies and between them and the general population. The author makes a compelling case for the sophistication and diversity of Gypsy relations with Commonwealth government and society, with real hostility only gradually appearing by the mid-eighteenth century."