The Gypsies (The Peoples of Europe)

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9780631159674: The Gypsies (The Peoples of Europe)

Since their appearance in the Balkans over nine centuries ago, the Gypsies have doggedly refused to fall in with conventional settled life. When, in the fifteenth century, they knocked at the gates of western Europe in the guise of pilgrims, they aroused intense curiosity as well as suspicion, and theories proliferated about their provenance. They remain a people whose culture and customs are beset with misunderstanding. This book describes their history. The story opens with an investigation into Gypsy origins, using the evidence of language and culture to identify their Indian ancestry. The author then traces the Gypsy migration through the Middle East, Europe and the world. They became renowned for their metal-working, music, fortune-telling, healing and horse-dealing. But right from the start they outraged latent prejudices in the settled populations they moved among. Governments sought to bring them to heel and they were harassed, outlawed, hunted down and banished. In what is now Rumania they were enslaved from the fourteenth century until the mid-nineteenth century; in 1725 the Prussians made the Gypsies into legal vermin and decreed that they could be hanged without trial; in Spain, in 1749 all Gypsies were rounded up, to be set to forced labour; in Switzerland, from 1926 to 1973, a respectable children's charity practised institutionalized abduction. Persecution reached its apogee when the Nazis embarked on outright genocide: in this forgotten holocaust perhaps half a million Gypsies lost their lives. The ethnic tensions in today's Europe mean that the pattern of antagonism continues. And yet this is in many ways a story of achievement. For the Gypsies managed, with no literate tradition, no state and no national identity, to preserve a distinctive heritage over centuries of vicissitude. How and why they did so are the twin themes of this book.

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From the Back Cover:

Since their unexplained appearance in Europe over nine centuries ago, the gypsies have refused to fall in with conventional settled life. They remain a people whose culture and customs are beset with misunderstanding, and who cling to their distinct identity in the teeth of persistent rejection and pressure to conform. This book describes their history.

The book opens with an investigation of gypsy origins in India. The author then traces the gypsy migration from the early Middle Ages to the present, through the Middle East, Europe and the world. Throughout their known history they have been renowned for their music, metal working, fortune-telling, healing and horse-dealing; but from the outset they outraged the prejudices of the populations they encountered: they were enslaved, harrassed, outlawed and hunted. Yet against all the odds the gypsies have survived, preserving a distinctive heritage and culture that transcends national boundaries. How they did so is the compelling theme of this book.

This new paperback edition has been revised to take account of recent research and of the political changes in Eastern Europe, which have sadly been followed by a resurgence of Gypsy persecution in a number of countries.

About the Author:

Sir Angus Fraser died on May 27, 2001, aged 73. He was Chairman of the UK Board of Customs and Excise and from 1988 to 1992 was Adviser to the Prime Minister on Efficiency in Government. He was knighted in 1985. He published extensively on the Gypsies.

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Fraser, Angus M.
Editore: Blackwell Pub (1992)
ISBN 10: 0631159673 ISBN 13: 9780631159674
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Fraser, Angus M.
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