Serbian Gypsies: History

Figure 1.--This is a Serbian Gysey family in 1918. The Central Powers (Austria, Bulgaria, and Germany) occupied Serbia in World war II. The Allies liberated the country at the end of the War.

Gypseys first appeared in Serbia before the Ottoman invasion (14th century). The first confirmed historical reference to the Gypsey people in Serbia is in a document in which Stefan Uroš IV Dušan of Serbia, Emperor of Serbs and Greeks, donated Gypsy slaves to the Monastery of Prizren located in Kosovo. The Gypseys settling in central Serbia are predominantly Serbian Orthodox. Many of those settling in Kosovo converted to Islam, especially in southern Kosovo. There is more evidence of Gypseys in Serbia (16th century). By this time Serbia was an Ottoman province. The Gypseys tended to live in the towns and cities, but there some in rural villages. They tended to live in separate areas which became known as 'cigan-mala'. They made a living by foraging as they rarely owned land to farm. They also worked as occasional laborers and most famously as musicians. Large number of Gypseys settled in Serbia (17th and 18th centuries). This may have been the result of Austrian authorities taking actions against Gypseys. Austrian authorities issued several regulations about Gypseys (1761, 1767, and 1783). The often diorderly and unsettled Gypsey lifestyle appears to have offended the Austrians. During the Liberal Revolutions (1848/1849), the Gypseys as a result tended to support the Serbs. World War II was a terrible time for Gypseys and Serbia/Yugoslavia became a killing field. The Jewish minority was desroyed in the NAZI World War II Holocaust. Large numbers of Gypseys were also killed along with many Serbs, primarly by the Fascist Croatian Ustachi.


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Created: 1:43 AM 2/1/2013
Last updated: 1:43 AM 2/1/2013