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Black Hundreds

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A Black Hundred procession, 1907

The Black Hundreds (sometimes The Black Hundreds), also known as the black-hundredists (Чёрная сотня, черносотенцы in Russian, or Chornaya sotnya, chernosotentsy) was a counter-revolutionary movement in Russia in the early 20th century, a supporter of the tsarist regime, which stood for inviolable autocracy in its struggle against the revolutionary movement. It was noted for its extremist nationalism and xenophobia, which included anti-semitism, [1] incitement to pogroms and anti-Ukrainian sentiments.


"Svyashchennaya druzhina" (Священнaя дружинa, or The Holy Brigade) and "Russkoye sobraniye" (Русское собрание, or Russian Assembly) in St. Petersburg are considered to be predecessors of the Black Hundred. Starting in 1900, the two organizations united representatives of the conservative intellectuals, government officials, clergy and landowners. A number of black-hundredist organizations were formed during and after the Russian Revolution of 1905, such as "Soyuz russkovo naroda" (Союз русского народа, or Union of the Russian People) in St.Petersburg, "Soyuz russkikh lyudey" (Союз русских людей, or Union of the Russians), "Russkaya monarkhicheskaya partiya" (Русская монархическая партия, or Russian Monarchist Party) and "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 and others.


Members of these organizations came from different social strata, such as landowners, clergymen, high and petty bourgeoisie, merchants, artisans, workers and the so-called declassed elements (see Declasse). "Sovet ob’yedinyonnogo dvoryanstva" (United Gentry Council) guided the activities of the black-hundredists. The tsarist regime provided moral and financial support to the movement. The Black Hundreds were founded on a devotion to Tsar, church and motherland, expressed by the tsar's motto, Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and National Character (Pravoslavie, Samoderzhavie i Narodnost). Despite certain program differences, all of the black-hundredist organizations had one goal in common, namely their struggle against the revolutionary movement. The black-hundredists conducted oral propaganda in churches by holding special services, during meetings, lectures and demonstrations. Such propaganda provoked antisemitic sentiments and monarchic "exaltation" and caused numerous pogroms and terrorist acts against revolutionaries and certain public figures, performed by their armed wing, the Yellow Shirts.

Popularity and power

The Black Hundred movement published newspapers, such as Znamya (The Banner) or Russkoye znamya (Russian Banner), Pochayevsky listok (The Pochayev Page), Zemschina, Kolokol (Bell), Groza (Thunderstorm), Veche and other. Many rightist newspapers, such as Moskovskiye vedomosti (Moscow News), Grazhdanin (Citizen) and Kievlyanin (Kievan), published their materials, as well. Among the prominent leaders of the Black Hundred movement were Alexander Dubrovin, Vladimir Purishkevich, Nikolai Markov, Pavel Bulatzel, Ivan Vostorgov, A. I. Trischatiy, Sergei Trufanov, M. K. Shakhovskoy and others.

Incitement to violence

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 the Black Hundred terrorists. The organ of Black Hundreds Russkoe Znamya declared openly that "Real Russians assassinated Herzenstein and Iollos with knowledge of officials, and expresses regret that only two Jews perished in crusade against revolutionaries." [2]

The Black Hundred and the Ukrainian question

The Black Hundred movement actively campaigned against Ukrainian self-determination, as well as against promoting of Ukrainian culture and language in general, and against the cult of the great Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko in particular.[3]

All Russian Congresses

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 Hundred movement became weaker with membership rate steadily decreasing. During the February Revolution of 1917, the remaining black-hundredist organizations were officially abolished. After the October Revolution, many leaders and regular members of these organizations fought against the Soviet authorities, although overall their participation was much lower than that of more moderate forces of the White movement.

After emigrating abroad, Black Hundredists became the main right wing critics of the White movement. They blamed the movement for not moving out monarchism as its key ideological foundation, and being run under the influence of liberals and Freemasons.

Allusions in literature

  • Jack London's 1908 novel The Iron Heel: which predicts the rise of a Fascist government in the US, the hired thugs who are loyal to the regime and specialise in attacking labour meetings use the name of the Black Hundreds.
  • Bernard Malamud's 1966 novel The Fixer: which portrays Yakov Bok as a Jewish man from the pogrom moving to Kiev, Yakov changes his last name to sound more Russian and soon becomes employed by a member of the Black Hundred.
  • Edward Rutherford's Russka: a young Bobrov (one of the fictional families portrayed in the novel) is beaten in the street for being Jewish looking and being the son of a social-democrat; by a gang of young Black Hundreds.

Further reading

  • Laqueur, Walter. Black Hundred: The Rise Of The Russian Extreme Right (1993)


  1. A People Apart: The Jews in Europe, 1789-1939, by David Vital, Oxford University Press, 1999 (pgs.576,582,665).
  2. American Jewish Yearbook (1910-1911). 
  3. ПАНИХИДЫ ПО Т. ШЕВЧЕНКЕ И ЧЕРНОСОТЕННОЕ ДУХОВЕСТВО. Киевскому миссионерскому комитету пришлось высказаться по докладу священника с. Демиевки о. Пестрякова, настаивавшего на необходимости запрещения духовенству служить панихиды по Т. Шевченке, так как эти панихиды якобы пробуждают в населении сепаратизм и способствуют распространению «мазепинства». Доклад этот, основанный исключительно на политиканстве и с религией ничего общего не имеющий, вызвал, как сообщают газеты, горячие дебаты. Рьяным сторонником о. Пестрякова оказался митрофорный протоиерей Софийского собора о. Златоверховников. Большинство комитета не согласилось однако с нелепыми доводами о. Пестрякова и его alter ego Златоверховникова. Против запрещения панихид высказался и еп. Назарий, заявив, что раз Т. Шевченко погребен по всем правилам православной церкви, то никто не имеет права запретить молиться о нем. Тем не менее эта непристойность с именем великого кобзаря еще раз, очевидно, повторится в комитете, так как комитет постановил поручить миссионеру Потехину составить специальный доклад о Шевченке и об украинском движении. Украинская Жизнь. — М., 1912. — № 5 — С. 82.

External links

cs:Černosotněnciet:Mustsadane:कालासयवालहरू ja:黒百人組 no:De svarte hundre ru:Черносотенцы fi:Mustat sotniat tt:Qaragruhçılar uk:Чорносотенці

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