The Road to the Sea

  • Richard J. Pym


Castillo de Bobadilla’s advice to corregidores on gypsies echoed similar policies of exclusion adopted elsewhere in the peninsula and, indeed, the New World. The success of such policies, discussed below, was however mixed, with the large tracts of territory under seigneurial or ecclesiastical jurisdiction typically serving as convenient bolt-holes for gypsies on the run from the authorities in the corregimientos, the 66 administrative areas under royal jurisdiction as Castillo de Bobadilla was writing.1 The frontiers between the peninsula’s different kingdoms served a similar purpose, the border between Castile and Aragon being exploited in this way by gypsy and other bandits until at least the mid-seventeenth century. Meanwhile, the tendency, evident from an early stage, to identify gypsies with vagabonds or criminal elements was reflected in legislation which consistently defined them via reference to their dress, speech, and behaviour, though never at any stage in terms of race. In Castile itself, from the 1570s Philip II would seek to press gypsy males into service as much-needed oarsmen for his Mediterranean galley squadrons. If successful, this policy would of course amount to another form of exclusion, at once removing undesirables from Castile and separating them from their women, while also offering the additional benefit of cheap manpower.


Sixteenth Century Corporal Punishment Early Modern Period Pessimistic Outlook Criminal Element 
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© Richard J. Pym 2007

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  • Richard J. Pym

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