Gypsy Folk Tales, by Francis Hindes Groome, , at sacred-texts.com
The Bourgeois of Paris, whose Journal records this visit with a Pepys-like fidelity, describes how multitudes 'came from Paris, from Sainct Denis, and from the neighbourhood of Paris to see them. And it is true that the children, boys and girls, were as clever as could be. And most or nearly all had both ears pierced, and in each ear a silver ring, or two in each, and they said it was a sign of nobility in their own country. Item, the men were very black, their hair was frizzled; the women, the ugliest that could be seen, and the blackest. All had their faces covered with wounds (toutes avoient le visage deplaié), hair black as a horse's tail, for sole dress an old blanket, very coarse, and fastened on the shoulder by a band of cloth or a cord, and underneath a shift, for all covering. In short, they were the poorest creatures ever seen in France in the memory of man. Yet, in spite of their poverty, there were witches among them who looked into people's hands, and told what had happened to them, or would happen, and sowed discord in several marriages by saying to the husband, "Your wife has played you false," or to the wife, "Your husband has played you false." And what was worse, whilst they were speaking to folks, by magic or otherwise, or by
the Enemy in Hell, or by dexterity and skill, it was said they emptied people's purses and transferred the coin to their own. But in truth I went there three or four times to speak with them, yet never perceived that I lost a penny, nor did I ever see them look into a hand. But people said so everywhere, and it came to the ears of the Bishop of Paris, who went there, and took with him a Minorite friar called Little Jacobin. And he, by command of the bishop, made a fine preaching, excommunicating all who had believed them and shown them their hands. And they were obliged to depart, and departed on the day of Our Lady of September, and went away towards Pontoise.'
Three weeks later, at Amiens, Thomas, Earl of Little Egypt, with forty followers, received pious alms from the mayor and aldermen after exhibition of the papal letters; and during the next seven years we find similar scattered bands of Egyptians, Saracens from Egypt, or Heidens, at Tournai, Utrecht, Arnheim, Bommel, Middelburg, Metz, Leyden, Frankfort, etc. These, according to M. Bataillard, all belonged to the original band, some four hundred strong, which split up or reunited as occasion required, and which had probably started from the Balkan peninsula. The thirty tented Cingari or Cigäwnär, who encamped near Ratisbon in 1424 and 1426, seem on the other hand to have belonged to Hungary. Their leader had also a safe-conduct granted him at Zips on 23rd April 1423 by the Emperor Sigismund, and styling him 'our faithful Ladislas, Woiwode of the Cigani'; and they gave out quite a different reason for their exile, that it was 'in remembrance of the flight of our Lord into Egypt.' The four hundred would-be pioneers, then, sent forward to spy out the lands of promise on behalf of vast hordes behind, who in 1438 began to pour over Germany, Italy, and France by thousands instead of by hundreds, and headed this time by King Zindl. Spain the Gypsies reached in 1447, Sweden by 1512, and Poland and Russia about 1501.