The Rromani Connection website
Rromani History
A new theory on Romani history based on ongoing research into recorded and factual evidence is being prepared by Ronald Lee and other scholars, including Ian Hancock, Marcel Cortiade and Adrian Marsh. Using language studies, blood groupings, DNA tests and the factual evidence in the writings of the period by Firdausi and other scholars at the Ghaznavid court of Mahmud and later, the Persians, Armenians, Turks and Greeks, the theory suggests that a group of Indians numbering in the thousands were taken out of India by Mahmud Ghazni in the early 11th century and incorporated as ethnic units, along with their camp followers, wives and families, to form contingents of Indian troops to serve in the Ghaznavid Emirate in Khurasan as ghazis and in the bodyguard of Mahmud and his successors. The existence of such troops is well documented in contemporary histories of the Ghaznavids, as is their participation in the battles in Khurasan. The theory goes on to explain that in 1040, the Ghaznavid empire was overthrown by the Seljuks and that the Indian contingency, numbering around some 60,000, were either forced to fight for the Seljuks and spearhead their advance in their raids into Armenia, or fled to Armenia to escape them. In any event, the Indians ended up in Armenia and later, in the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm. These proto-Romanies remained in Anatolia for two to three hundred years and during that time they abandoned their military way of life and took up a nomadic lifestyle based on artisan work, trading, animal dealing and entertainment. Gradually, small groups wandered westwards across the Bosporus to Constantinople and from there up into the Balkans to reach Central Europe by 1400, leaving local groups in all the regions they had passed through. Roma made their home in almost all countries of Europe where it has been, and still is, the failure of all of the governments of those countries to provide protection for Roma against persecution and massive discrimination by the police, local authorities and the local population that are the causes of the present conditions. Under the Geneva Convention on Refugees, this is tantamount to official persecution and allows Roma to seek refugee status in signatory countries. Little action is taken to prevent massive job discrimination in the workplace, housing and public sectors. In Romania and elsewhere, employment ads in the local papers are allowed to state: No Roma wanted or words to this effect. Roma are in effect living in a state of Apartheid in the New Democracies. In the Czech Republic signs appear in windows of discotheques, cinemas and restaurants stating: No dogs or Gypsies allowed! Now that Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland are EU members and the other new democracies that have large Romani populations are in line for EU membership in the near future, it remains to be seen whether conditions will improve for the Roma, or will proposed improvements be endlessly delayed or even abandoned. If the evidence of the treatment of Roma in some of the long-established EU countries is any example, such as the deplorable refugee camps in Italy, the campsite problems in Britain, prejudice and actual persecution in Germany, Austria, France, Britain, Italy and elsewhere, the future of Sinti and Roma in Europe is not all that promising. The problem is not so much one of ethnic or national rights of Roma as minorities, where the present focus now lies, but of fundamental human rights as guaranteed under the United Nations Charter of Human Rights.

Yvonne Slee

On Romani origins and Identity

Anecdote on Roma history and the army!

When Arp Arslan won at Manzikert battle (1071), the Byzantine emperor Roman IV Diogenes was found injured and muddy on the battle field. Nobody could recognise him among other soldiers but one Seljuk finally identified him. So Arp Arslan asked him: "If you were in my place and me in yours, what would you have done?" Roman: "I would probably have killed you" Arp Arslan (Arslan means "Lion"): "I will do worse, I will let you go". Arslan told Roman to bend down to the ground, then he put his foot on Roman's neck. After a moment Arslan told him to get up and sit at the table. He respected him for one week and let him go.

When Roman (escorted half the way) arrived in Constantinopolis, he found Andronikos on the throne and told him: "Ok, I will leave you in power, just leave me alive, I want to finish my life in a monastery." Adronikos accepted and swore he would not do him any harm, then told Roman to sign his abdication. After doing so, Andronikos gauged Roman's eyes out of his head, put meat-worms in the holes, bound him on a mule's back and sent him back through the desert of Anatolia. A few days before Roman's death, he recieved a letter (probably from Andronikos), telling him, "I didn't do any harm to you. On the contrary, I wanted to protect you from the views of this world because you are proeissed to heavenly visions".
Awake! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:
And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultan's Turret in a Noose of Light.
With me along some Strip of Herbage strown,
That just divides the desert from the sown,
Where name of Slave and Sultan scarce is known,
And Sultan Mahmud on his Throne.

Think, in this batter'd Caravanserai
Whose Doorways are alternate Night and Day,
How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp
Abode his Hour or two, and went his way.
Up from Earth's Centre through the Seventh Gate
I rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate,
And many Knots unraveled by the Road;
But not the Knot of Human Death and Fate.
Then to the rolling Heav'n itself I cried,
Asking, 'What Lamp had Destiny to guide
Her little Children stumbling in the Dark?'
And - 'A blind Understanding!' Heav'n replied.
One Moment in Annihilation's Waste,
One Moment, of the Well of Life to taste-
The Stars are setting and the Caravan
Starts for the Dawn of Nothing -
Oh, make haste!

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