The history of Gypsies, back to the sources

The history of Gypsies, back to the sources

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Le Courrier des Balkans (August 21, 2016)

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Publié le 09 octobre 2016
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The history of Gypsies, back to the sources- Julien Radenez Le Courrier des Balkans (August 21, 2016)Translated from French to English by Joëlle Caro.The idea that Gypsies have left no trace in history is false. Since the Middle Ages, a wealth of archives attests to the presence of individuals or groups identified as Gypsies in the Balkans region. In 1304,Nicola Acinganolives in Heraklion (Crete, Greece). In 1316 and 1319, an order prohibits the entry of the Cretan capital to anyaçinganusoracingana. In 1323, the pilgrim Symon Semeonis observes in Heraklion «a people outside the city following the Greek rite and asserting to be of the lineage of Cain». He adds that this people nomadizes from field to field and from cave to cave. The termAtziganospilios[Ατζιγγανόσπηλιος], literallyAtzigan cave, is applied to local caves. Venetian records from the isle of Crete registerLucas Acingano and Iohannes Condoiani Acinganoin 1373,Nicolaus Acinganiin 1378,Stamata Açingana,Gaitani Açinganus andMavrangello Açingano in 1379,Guillelminus Açingano in 1389,Nicolaus Vassallo Açingani in 1393Iohannes tis Parudas acinganus,Sophya Açingana andPepani Açinganain 1394. An Ottoman register of the province of Rethymno (Crete) recordsMarko Açiganiin Agios Konstantinos andYani Açiganiin Amnatos around 1657. In 1433, in Famagusta (Cyprus),Jani Cinganusis aservant scribe of the court[famullus scribe curie] of John of Cyprus. In 1464, in Cyprus, King James of Cyprus cedes to LordNicolo Giafunithe revenue of a tax,the right of Cingani[il dretto delli Cingani]. In 1444, in Nafplio (Peloponnese, Greece), the Council of Forty decides to reinstateJohanne Cingano de Neapoli Romanieat the post ofdrungarios of Acingani[drungarium acinganorum], in accordance with the privileges granted by former Governor Ottaviano Bono. In 1456, in Mytilene (Lesbos, Greece),Azinganus serventisobtains a sclavine [sclavina]. In 1470, in Corfu (Greece), the bailiff bestows the saidFief of Cingani[dicto Feudo Cinganorum] on the baronMichael de Ugotisand his heirs. Formed in the second half of the 14th century during the reign of the Angevins, the fief belonged to the baronsAloysius de Citro,Adam de San Ippolito,loannelus de HabitabulothenJacobo Dondi. TheCingani[cinganos] serfs of the fief may be migrants from Epirus, called homines vagenitiby Catherine of Courtenay-Valois. In 1474,Anastas CiganoandKosta Ciganoare listed in Mantoudi (Euboea, Greece). In Zagreb (Croatia),Nicolaus Cigan (Cygan, Chigan, Chygan), butcher [carnifex] by trade, is quoted repeatedly from 1378 to 1413. In Wallachia (Romania), Prince Dan I gives 40 Atsigane families [ацигане челедеи] to the monastery of Tismana in 1385. Those were offered by Prince Vladislav I to the monastery of Vodita around 1370. Prince Mircea I gives 300Tsygan families [цыганских семейсти] to the monastery of Cozia in 1388. In Moldavia (Romania) Prince Alexander I gives 31Tsygan familiesцыган] and 12 Tatar [семейство families to the monastery of Bistrita in 1428.Micola voivod of Cigani [Micola Ciganorum wayvode] is recorded in Bistrita in 1487. At the end of the 13th century (between 1283 and 1289) the Patriarch of Constantinople Gregory of Cyprus writes to the Megas Logothetes of the Byzantine Empire, Theodor Muzalon, about the tax collection from theAigyptious and Athinganous[Αίγυπτίους και Αθιγγάνους], probably in Monemvasia (Peloponnese). The Egyptians and Athingans, considered as heretical by Orthodox Greeks, might be assimilated on the basis of religious criteria. In 1300,Nikolaos Aigyptios [Νικόλαος Αίγύπτιος] is a pareikos (serf) in Gomatou (Chalkidiki, Greece). He seems to be the same asNikolaos Ainitis, Aigyptios[Νικόλαος Αίνίτης,
Αίγύπτιος]. Around 1325, a pareikosAigyption[Αίγύπτιον] is the spouse of an owner in Ierissos (Chalkidiki). In 1350, the Byzantine Emperor John V Palaiologos grants his oikeios (servant) Demetrios Kokalas half the property of the St. Panteleimon monastery in Agios Mamas (Chalkidiki), with its lands and pareikosAigyptokatzivellous[Αίγυπτοκατζιβέλλους]. In Greek, Katsivelos [Κατσίβελος] is similar to Gyftos [Γύφτος]. Around 1350, the pilgrim Ludolf von Sudheim recounts that Mandopolini are «Egyptians claiming to be of the lineage of Pharaoh» [Egyptii dicentes, se esse de genere Pharaonis] and «Christians with Christians, Muslims with Muslims[ » cum Grecis Greci, cum Sarracenis Sarraceni]. In 1362, an act mentionsVlachi et Vitani egipciorum in Dubrovnik (Croatia). In 1404, the Archbishop of Soltaniyeh (Iran) Johannes III is interested inCyngani or people of Pharaoh[Cyngani sive populus pharaonis] scattered around the world. Around 1415, the writer Mazaris notes that the language of theAigyptioi[Αιγύπτιοι] is among the first seven in the Peloponnese. In 1483, the pilgrim Bernhard von Breydenbach relates that thesarracenosdon’t come from Egypt but from a land calledgippe, near Methoni (Peloponnese). In 1497, the pilgrim Arnold von Harff develops the same story and concludes that theGyppe land is thelittle Egypt [kleynem Egyppten]. Around 1520, 22Çingenehouseholds are reported in the province of Methoni. In 1587, Daniel Specklin associatesLittle Egypt [Klein-Egypten] with Epirus (Greece - Albania). The termAigyptokastro[Αιγυπτόκαστρο], literallyEgyptian castle, is applied to remains located in Mosynopolis (Thrace), Eleutherae (Attica), Pleuron (Aetolia), Kalidona (Ilia) and Arla (Achaia).Aigyptokastro[Αιγυπτόκαστρο] orGyftokastro [Γυφτόκαστρο] in Greek equals toTchingenekale[Çingenekale] in Turkish. There are alsoAtsinganokastro [Ατσιγγανόκαστρο] in Syros (Cyclades) andAthinganochori[Αθιγγανοχώρι] in Vistonida (Thrace). In 1416,Lord Emaus of Egypt and his 220 companions[herrn Emaus aus Aegypten und seinen 220 Genossen] would be received in Braşov (Transylvania, Romania). In 1476, the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus granted the status of Subjects of the Crown toEgyptians or commonly called, Cziganos[egiptiacos seu ut vulgariter nuncupantur, cziganos] of the city of Sibiu (Transylvania). Successors of the Byzantines, the Ottomans designate Gypsies by the words Kıpti / Kıbti [ﯽﻄﺒﻗ], i.e. Egyptian or Coptic, and Çingene / Çingane [ﻪﻧﺎﻜﻨﭼ]. A register of the province of Nikopol (Bulgaria) counts 431Kıptihouseholds around 1430 (or 1480). A register of the city of Istanbul (Turkey) counts 31Çingenearound 1477. The households Turkish traveler Evliya Çelebi noted in 1668 that in the 15th century Sultan Mehmed II moved Anatolian Çingene [Anadolu çingeneleri] from Balat (Turkey) andRumelian Kıpti [Rumeli kıptileri] from Komotini (Greece) to Istanbul (district of Balat). The generic term Gypsy covers a multitude of designations, the study of which reveals two groups: the (A)cingani and the (A)egyptiani. The names Gypsy and Egyptian, in medieval language variants, constitute a significant serial corpus. Presumably, the Latin word (A)cinganus and the Greek word Tsinganos [Τσιγγάνος] (Gypsy) are derived from the Greek word Athinganos [Αθίγγανος] (Athingan). The Latin word (A)egyptianus and the Greek word Gyftos [Γύφτος] (Gypsy) are derived from the Greek word Aigyptios [Αιγύπτιος] (Egyptian). (A)cingani and (A)egyptiani may form a single and same ethnic group, with various social and economic situations. All have a legal status and a contractual function, proof of being deeply rooted in their respective societies. The detailed analysis of anthroponyms, ethnonyms and toponyms allows a better understanding of the historical process of permanence and mobility of the old Gypsy families.
Read:Contribution to the history of Gypsies in Europe- Julien Radenez Revue Hommes & Migrations (N°1314 April-June 2016)