Hungarian Gypsies

Figure 1.--This Hungarian drawing depicts a Gypsy family. We are not sure the illustrator was, but it was dated 1875. At the time, Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarioan Empire. This suggests a basically comfortable existence. We note a variety of written sources suggesting that many Hungarian Gypsies lived in abject poverty.

Gypsies were especially important in Romania and Hungary. It is with the OIttomon drive into Europe that we note the first Gypsies in Hungary. Many camne from Wallachia (modern Romania). They are known as the Vlach (oláh) Gypsies. Their dialect seems the closest to various existing Indian languages. Hungary was a meduieval Christian kingdom, conquered by the Ottoman Empire (16th centuty). The Hungarian monarchy was extiunguished at the Battle of Mohács (1526). The Austrian Hapsburgs inherited the dynastic rights. Hungary for several centuries was associated in one way or another with Austria until the end of World War I (1914-18). Hungary itself was a fairly small country, but developed one of Europe's the largest Gypsey coimmunities known as Czigany. The Gypsey arrived in Hungary at a time that the Feudal system still dominated society. The Gypseys did not neatlky fit into feudal socirty. Feudal society continued to dominate Hungary into the 19th century. Hungarian Gypsies lived in great poverty and were commonly found dressed in rags a function of the poverty in which they lived. [Borrow] They were, however, noted for their music and dance. They were particularly noted for the violin, probably becausde it was so portable. Hungarian Gypies were also known for horse trading. They also were known as tinkers and to a lesser extent smiths. The women also told fortunrs. There is no known records of the Gypsey population in Hingary until the 19th century. One estimate suggested there were about 140,000 gypsdies (1850). The accuracy of this estimate is unclear. A probably more accurate assemment reorted 280,000 gypsies (1893). Hungarian authorities sidcussed the branding of Gypsies for identification (1909). After World War I, the Treaty of Trianon redrew the boundaries of southern Europe by dividing up the Austro Hungarian Empire. Many Hungarian Gypsies found themslves in Romania or the new state of Czechoslovakia. Despite this by the time of Wotld War II, Hungary reported a Gysey population of about 200,000. Hungarian Gypsies were devestated by the NAZI Holocaust.


Borrow, George. "The Hungarian Gypsies," (1843).


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Created: 12:40 AM 6/16/2012
Last updated: 12:40 AM 6/16/2012