First Pragmatic Decree

Enacted by the Catholic Monarchs

From the time of the First Pragmatic Decree issued by the Catholic Monarchs (4-3-1499) to the last by Carlos III (19-9-1783), more than 250 formal provisions were issued against Roma, including 28 Royal Pragmatics and Decrees from the Council of Castile and more than 20 edicts published in Catalonia, Navarra, Granada and Valencia.

The aim of the first law of 1499 was to assimilate Roma and obliterate their culture, which at that time meant forcing them to abandon their nomadic ways and live in a fixed place and work in agriculture in service to a Master. That is, the idea was to make them “vassals like all the rest”. Hence, the following was published:

We hereby notify the ‘Egyptians’ who roam our kingdoms and regions with their wives and children… that within 60 days from the day that this law was proclaimed and announced by our Court, and to the towns, localities and cities that are not judicial district centres, each of them shall earn a living from known trades for which they are well suited and travel to places where they shall agree to settle or accept accommodation from Masters whom they will serve and who will provide for their needs, and they shall not go travelling together throughout our kingdom as they have. Otherwise, within another 60 days they must leave our kingdom and never return under penalty that, should they be captured or imprisoned without masters, together, after the aforementioned time period has passed, each one shall receive 100 lashings the first time and be permanently banished  from this this kingdom. On the second offense their ears will be cut off and they shall spend 60 days chained and once again be expelled as previously stated. And on the third occasion, those who took part shall be imprisoned for life (…).

First Pragmatic Decree against Roma issued by the Catholic Monarchs on 4 March 1499. ↵
Article from the “Maj Khetane” educational project.
Written by Jesús Salinas.