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Roma History


Gypsy \Gyp"sy\, n.; pl. Gypsies. [OE. Gypcyan, F. Gyptien, Egyptian, Gypsy, L. Aegyptius. See Egyptian.] [Also spelled Gipsy and Gypsey.]
1. One of a vagabond race, whose tribes, coming originally from India, entered Europe in 14th or 15th century, and are now scattered over Turkey, Russia, Hungary, Spain, England, etc., living by theft, fortune telling, horse jockeying, tinkering, etc. Cf. Bohemian, Romany.
Like a right gypsy, hath, at fast and loose, Beguiled me to the very heart of loss. --Shak.
2. The language used by the gypsies. --Shak.
3. A dark-complexioned person. --Shak.
4. A cunning or crafty person [Colloquial].

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary 1913

Crowe, 1995: p. 196; Fraser, 1992.
In Ragusa- now Dubrovnik, Croatia- late fall is overcast. Clouds choke the southern Adriatic; hard rains hit the walled city, overflow from the gutters and pound the smooth cobblestones below.

November 5th, 1362:
The Ragusan goldsmith Radenus Bratoslauich accepted as a deposit eight silver pieces from two dark-skinned, black-haired men- one Vlachus and Vitanus. Ragusa was an empire built on trade; it had outposts as far away as the ancient mines of Novo Brdo, Kosovo. Its traders controlled Bosnian silver from Srebrenica. Its diplomats fawned and played greater empires- Turks and Venetians- against one another. It invented the concept of ship quarantine and outlawed slavery before any other nation in the world. Its ships later took part in the Spanish Armada.

Radenus refused to return the dark men’s coins; Vlachus and Vitanus filed a petition with the local authorities, who ordered the goldsmith to do so. Ragusan ships then sailed the known world; strangers such as these were not unusual. But the official noted on the petition that these men were Egyptiorum.

The petition survives- in the Dubrovnik Historijski Archiv. It is the first reliable record of Roma in the former Yugoslavia.

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