Black Hundreds

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Black Hundred
Чёрная сотня
NewspaperRusskoye Znamya
Armed wingYellow Shirts[1][2]
Political positionFar-right
ReligionRussian Orthodoxy
Colors  Black,   white, and   gold
(Romanov colors)
Party flag
Flag of the Russian Empire (black-yellow-white).svg
Supporters of the Black Hundreds marching in Odessa shortly after the October Manifesto 1905
A Black Hundred procession, 1907

The Black Hundred (Russian: Чёрная сотня, romanizedChornaya sotnya), also known as the black-hundredists (Russian: черносотенцы; chernosotentsy), was a reactionary, monarchist and ultra-nationalist movement in Russia in the early 20th century. It was a staunch supporter of the House of Romanov and opposed any retreat from the autocracy of the reigning monarch.[3] The name apparently arose from the Medieval concept of "black", or common (non-noble) people, organized into militias.[4]

The Black Hundreds were also noted for extremism and incitement to pogroms, nationalistic Russocentric doctrines, and different xenophobic beliefs, including anti-Ukrainian sentiment[5] and anti-semitism.[6]

The ideology of Chernosotentsy is based on a slogan formulated by Count Uvarov "Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality".


"Svjashchjennaja druzhina" (Священнaя дружинa, or The Holy Brigade, possibly Су·вегль·ощен·окаяДруггиа/ Дрогента) and "Russkoye sobraniye" (Русское собрание, or Russian Assembly) in St. Petersburg are considered[by whom?] to be predecessors of the Black Hundreds. Starting in 1900, the two organizations united representatives of conservative intellectuals, government officials, Russian Orthodox clergy and landowners. A number of black-hundredist organizations formed during and after the Russian Revolution of 1905, such as:

  • "Soyuz russkogo naroda" (Союз русского народа, or Union of the Russian People) in St. Petersburg,
  • "Soyuz russkikh lyudey" (Союз русских людей, or Union of the Russians) in Moscow,
  • "Russkaya monarkhicheskaya partiya" (Русская монархическая партия, or Russian Monarchist Party) in Moscow and elsewhere,
  • "Obshchestvo aktivnoy bor'by s revolyutsiyey" (Общество активной борьбы с революцией, or Society of Active Struggle Against Revolution) in Moscow,
  • "Belyy dvuglavyy oryol" (Белый двуглавый орёл, or White Two-headed Eagle) in Odessa, Ukraine,

and others.


Members of the Black Hundreds organizations came from different social strata—such as landowners, clergymen, the high and petty bourgeoisie, merchants, artisans, workers and the so-called "declassed elements". The Postojanny Sovyet Ob'yedinnyonnykh dvoryanskikh obschshestv Rossiy (United Gentry Council) guided the activities of the black-hundredists; the tsarist regime provided moral and financial support to the movement.[citation needed] The Black Hundreds were founded on a devotion to Tsar, church and motherland, expressed previously by the motto of Tsar Nicholas I: "Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality" (Pravoslaviye, Samodershaviye i Narodnost'). Despite certain program differences, all of the black-hundredist organizations had one goal in common, namely their struggle against the revolutionary movement.[citation needed] The black-hundredists conducted oral propaganda: in churches by holding special services, and during meetings, lectures and demonstrations. Such propaganda provoked antisemitic sentiments and monarchic "exaltation" and caused[citation needed] numerous pogroms and terrorist acts against revolutionaries and certain public figures, performed by the Black Hundreds' paramilitary groups, sometimes known as "Yellow Shirts".[7]

Popularity and power[edit]

The Black Hundred movement published newspapers, such as Znamja (The Banner) or Russkoje znamja (Russian Banner), Potschajewskij Listok (The Pochayev Page), Semschina, Kolokol (Bell), Grosa (Thunderstorm), Vetschje and others. Many rightist newspapers, such as Moskowskije wedomosti (Moscow News), Graschdanin (Citizen) and Kievljanin (Kievan), published their materials as well. Among the prominent leaders of the Black Hundred movement were Alexander Dubrovin, Vladimir Purishkevich, Nikolai Markov, A. I. Trishatny, Pavel Krushevan, Pavel Bulatsel, Ivan Vostorgov, M. K. Shakhovskoy, Saint John of Kronstadt, Hieromonk Iliodor, Bishop Hermogen, and others.

Incitement to violence[edit]

Anti-"Black Hundred" satire. A certificate: "The bearer of this document is neither a student nor a member of the intelligentsia, and is thus not fit for beating" issued by the "Chief Directorate of Black Hundred"

When two Duma delegates, Grigori Borisovich Iollos (Poltava province) and Mikhail Herzenstein (b. 1859, d. 1906 in Terijoki), both from the Constitutional Democratic Party, were assassinated by members of the Black Hundreds, their press organ Russkoe Znamya declared openly that "Real Russians assassinated Herzenstein and Iollos with knowledge of officials", and expressed regret that "only two Jews perished in the crusade against revolutionaries."[8] The black hundred were known to have used violence and torture on anyone they believed was a threat to the Tsar.

Black Hundred and the Ukrainian question[edit]

The Black Hundreds classified Ukrainians as Russians,[9] and attracted the support of many "Moscowphiles" who considered themselves Russian and rejected Ukrainian nationalism and identity.[10] The Black Hundred movement actively campaigned against what it considered to be Ukrainian separatism, as well as against promoting Ukrainian culture and language in general, and against the works of Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, in particular.[11] In Odessa, the Black Hundreds shut down the local branch of the Ukrainian Prosvita society, an organization that was dedicated to spreading literacy in the Ukrainian language and Ukrainian cultural awareness.[10]

All-Russian congresses[edit]

The black-hundredists organized four all-Russian congresses with the purpose of uniting their forces. In October 1906, they elected the so-called glavnaya uprava (a kind of board of directors) of the new all-Russian black-hundredist organization "Ob’yedinyonniy russkiy narod" (Объединённый русский народ, or Russian People United). After 1907, however, this organization disintegrated, and the whole Black Hundreds movement became weaker as the membership rate steadily declined. During the February Revolution of 1917, the remaining black-hundredist organizations were officially abolished.

After emigrating abroad, many black-hundredists were among the main critics of the White movement. They blamed the movement for not only failing to stress monarchism as its key ideological foundation, but also supposedly being run under the influence of classical liberals and Freemasons. Boris Brasol (1885–1963), a former member of the Black Hundreds, was among those who later emigrated to the United States. There he befriended industrialist Henry Ford, who gave Brasol a job on The Dearborn Independent newspaper. Brasol also helped in the production of The International Jew.[12]

In popular culture[edit]

  • In Jack London's 1908 novel The Iron Heel, which predicts the rise of a hypothetical nationalist government in the US, the anti-labor hired thugs who are loyal to the regime use the name of the Black Hundreds.
  • In Bernard Malamud's 1966 novel The Fixer, which portrays Yakov Bok as a Jewish man who survived the pogrom and moved to Kiev, Yakov changes his last name to sound more Russian and soon becomes hired by a member of the Black Hundred.
  • In Edward Rutherfurd's 1991 novel Russka, a young Bobrov (one of the fictional families portrayed in the novel) is beaten in the street by a gang of young Black Hundreds for being Jewish-looking and being the son of a social democrat.
  • In Roots: The Next Generations, a Jewish friend of the series' black protagonists jokes that the Ku Klux Klansmen who burn down his shop are mere pikers next to the "Czar's Black One Hundred".
  • In Anatoli Rybakov’s 1988 novel Children of the Arbat, in part II, chapter 13, set in Moscow in the mid 1930s, the Sharoks' old neighborhood Okhotny Row is described as having many storekeepers who had been Black Hundreds. In part III, chapter 5, Khanlar Safaraliyev, an oil worker, is killed by thugs who belong to a gang of Black Hundreds; Stalin makes a speech at his grave side.


  1. ^ "Tsarist government". December 3, 2012.
  2. ^ "The fire that did not cease". The Economist. 19 February 2015.
  3. ^ Norman Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, pp. 61, 73, 89, 120–2, 134, 139, 251.
  4. ^ " : BLACK HUNDREDS".
  5. ^ Ukraine and Russia in Their Historical Encounter, by Peter J. Potichnyj, University of Alberta, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press, 1992 (pp. 576, 582, 665).
  6. ^ A People Apart: The Jews in Europe, 1789–1939, by David Vital, Oxford University Press, 1999 (pp. 140, 141).
  7. ^ Compare: Allensworth, Wayne (1998). The Russian Question: Nationalism, Modernization, and Post-Communist Russia. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 127. ISBN 9780847690039. Retrieved 2015-12-01. The Black Hundreds' militants were organized into paramilitary groups, one of which took the name of 'Yellow Shirts,' anticipating the Brown and Black Shirts of Germany and Italy.
  8. ^ "A LIST OF EVENTS IN 5670 AND NECROLOGY" (PDF). American Jewish Yearbook. AJC Archives. Retrieved August 22, 2016. July 1, 1909, to June 30, 1910, Issue 1910–1911
  9. ^ Jacob Langer. (2007) Corruption and the Counterrevolution: The Rise and Fall of the Black Hundred History Dissertation, Duke University. pg.19
  10. ^ a b Encyclopedia of Ukraine. Black Hundreds University of Toronto, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies.
  11. ^ Украинская Жизнь. — М., 1912. — № 5 — С. 82.
  12. ^ How Russia Shaped the Modern World by Steven G. Marks. Princeton University Press, 2003 (pp. 172–4)

Further reading[edit]

  • Norman Cohn. Warrant for Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish World-Conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (1966)
  • Laqueur, Walter. Black Hundred: The Rise Of The Russian Extreme Right (1993)
  • Donald C. Rawson. Russian Rightists and the Revolution of 1905 (1995)

External links[edit]