Roma-Gypsy Presence in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
15th – 18th centuries
This is an analysis of 166 original and previously unpublished documents dating from the very first mention of a Gypsy in 1401 up to the year 1 765. 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 18 th 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.
About the Author
Lech Mróz is Professor Emeritus at the University of Warsaw, Faculty of History, former Head of the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, advisor to the Roma Association in Poland, and co-founder of the Roma History Institute.
Other Titles in Ethnic minorities & multicultural studies