Documente de arhivă privind robia ţiganilor. Epoca dezrobirii [Archives Documents Concerning the Gypsy Slavery. Period of Emancipation]. Collection edited by Venera Achim and Raluca Tomi. With the collaboration of Florina Manuela Constantin. Bucharest: Editura Academiei Române, 2010, lxxv + 285 pp. ISBN 978-973-27-2014-1

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The volume gathers 235 documents from the period 1831-1859, selected from various archives. The documents refer to the Gypsy slavery in Wallachia and Moldovia in the last decades of existence of this institution, which was completely abolished in the years 1855-1856. The documents adress first of all economic, social and fiscal issues and offer the reader a comprehensive view on slavery, with its functioning mechanisms.

This collection intendes to be a starting point for studies on Gypsy slavery or history, as well as a means to arouse the interest for this research subject that has been neglected for too long by the Romanian historiography.

This volume includes a Foreword in Romanian and English, the actual documents, a Glossary and an Index of places, names and matters, as well as an Annex with a series of facsimiles.

From the Foreword:

The documents in this collection, albeit mainly addressing economic, social and fiscal issues, reflect the way in which the Romanian society as a whole and the Romanian elites, in particular, have positioned themselves to the issue of Gypsy slavery. This issue was important to the people of that time, since it concerned a numerous population which counted, in the second half of the 1850s, when the last slave category, the ones belonging to private persons, was emancipated, approximately 250,000 people. This amounted to 7% of the population of the two principalities. In 1859, when modern Romania was created, slavery did not exist anymore, having been abolished several years before, yet some categories of former slaves still had a special legal and fiscal status, meant to facilitate their integration into the rural communities they had been settled in. These are also the reasons why the documents in our collection cover the period 1831-1859. Nevertheless, we have tried to provide a balance among the different years of this time span.

All documents that we have selected from various archives have never been published before. They cover a series of very different issues, starting from the social, economic and legal aspects of the slavery in the Romanian principalities in the period 1831-1855/1856 (master-slave relations, slave sale and exchange, slave work on the estate, the use of state slaves at public works, flight of the slaves from the estates or from the villages they had been settled in and the measures taken by the authorities for catching the fugitives, the movement of slaves from a principality to the other or to the other side of the Danube, the collection of taxes and other duties of the slaves, crimes committed by the slaves and their punishment etc.), to family problems (weddings, bigamy, domestic disputes etc.). Several documents highlight the internal organization of the Gypsy bands. A series of documents refer to the compensation paid in exchange for the slaves by the state to the private persons before the last two emancipation laws of 1855 and 1856 were issued. Other documents deal with the process of compensating the former slave owners according to these laws, until the year 1859. Our intention was to illustrate the emancipation process, which also had an important financial component. Some of these documents with their annexes include statistical tables, economical estimates or lists of emancipated slaves. […]

This volume offers the reader a comprehensive view on slavery and Gypsy slave population during the last decades of this institution’s existence. The book offers original information, not only in the sense of offering details that are specific to any historical document, but also by offering the reader, by means of individual cases reflected by different documents, a holistic view upon the issue of Gypsy slavery in an age that went through deep changes in all its aspects. The components of this complex social reality can be identified in the documents selected in this collection.