Arrival of Romani group in Bern, Switzerland, 1485. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Arrival of Romani group in Bern, Switzerland, 1485. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Romani (colloquially known as Roma or Gypsies) have been a long established presence in the Basque Country and even developed their own distinct tongue, Erromintxela, which is a mixed language that incorporates most of its vocabulary from Kalderash Romani and its grammar from Basque. The first documented presence of the Romani in the Basque Country dates from April 27, 1435 when a group of fifty people passed through Olite, Navarre, on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. The group was led by “Thomas, the Count of Lower Egypt,” and received a donation from Blanche I, Queen of Navarre.

Document signed by Miguel García de Barasoain, secretary to Queen Blanche I of Navarre, detailing the donation, 1435. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Document signed by Miguel García de Barasoain, secretary to Queen Blanche I of Navarre, detailing the donation, 1435. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.