Gypsy Folk Tales, by Francis Hindes Groome, , at sacred-texts.com
Late in 1417 a band of 'Secani' or Tsigans, 300 in number, besides children and infants, arrived in Germany 'from Eastern parts' or 'from Tartary.' Their presence is first recorded at Luneburg; and thence they passed on to Hamburg, Lübeck, Wismar, Rostock, Stralsund, and Greifswald, At their head rode a duke and a count, richly dressed, with silver belts, and leading like nobles dogs of chase; next came a motley crew afoot; and women and children brought up the rear in waggons. They bore letters of safe-conduct from princes, one of which from the Emperor Sigismund they had probably procured that same year at Lindau on Lake Constance; and they gave out that they were on a seven years' pilgrimage, imposed by their own bishops as a penance for apostasy from the Christian faith. They encamped in the fields by night outside the city walls, and were great thieves, especially the women, 'wherefore several were taken and slain.' In 1418 they are heard of at Leipzig, at Frankfort-on-Main, and in Switzerland at Zurich, Basel, Berne, and Soleure: the contemporary Swiss chronicler, Conrad Justinger, speaks of them as 'more than two hundred baptized Heathens from Egypt, pitiful, black, miserable, and unbearable on account of their thefts, for they stole all they could.' At Augsburg they passed for exiles from 'Lesser Egypt'; at Macon in August 1419 they practised palmistry and necromancy; and at Sisteron in Provence as 'Saracens' they got large rations from the terrified townsfolk. In 1420 Lord Andreas, Duke of Little Egypt, and a hundred men, women, and children, came to Deventer in the Low Countries; and the aldermen had to pay 19 florins 10 placks for their bread, beer, herrings, and straw, as well as for cleaning out the barn in which they lay. At Tournay in 1421 'Sir Miquiel, Prince of Latinghem in Egypt,' received twelve gold pieces, with bread and a barrel of beer.