Thwarted mixed marriage: Failed attempt of marriage between Gypsy man and Serb woman in Negotin in 1851.
Keywords:Gypsies, Serbs, marriage, Negotin, Serbia
Based on unpublished archival sources, this paper deals with the position of Gypsies in Serbia in mid XIX century and with the institution of marriage. An extraordinary event, attempt of a Gypsy man marrying a Serb woman, is described and analyzed in detail. The groom's father, wealthy Negotin native Gypsy, intended to marry his son with a Serbian girl and thus improve his family's social status. The selected bride was a poor girl without a family, who accepted the proposal in order to escape from poverty. Obviously, it was the case of an arranged marriage. There were not any legal obstacles to the marriage and the church authorities gave their consent. However, the marriage was not socially acceptable for the part of Negotin community members. Therefore, they openly protested and forced the Timok archbishop to withdraw his permission for the marriage. Police did nothing to prevent demonstration and pressure on the high church dignitary. Thus, the marriage was thwarted. This unusual example shows the existence of segregation of Gypsies and their de facto inferior social position, as well as hesitation of church and civil authorities to enforce the law in matters of marriage, when it collided with deeply rooted social norms.
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