Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1100 Black Hood cavalry
Subject: cavalry archer
Culture: Chernye Klobuki / Black Hood
Setting: Rus-Turkic frontier warfare, 11-13thc

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Halperin 1985 p13-14
"In the eleventh century the Pechenegs and several other lesser tribes, such as the Berendei and Torki, were swept out of the Pontic steppe by the people who would be Russia's most powerful nomadic neighbors, the Polovtsy.  Driven from their pastures, the refugees formed a single non-ethnic confederacy usually called the Chernye Klobuky (Black Caps).  As sworn enemies of the Polovtsy, the Chernye Klobuky readily entered the service of the Kievan princes.  Their military skills were invaluable.  The Chernye Klobuky were the match of the Polovtsy in steppe warfare as mounted archers and were precious sources of intelligence, as well as serving as border guards and scouts.  Their influence was not confined to military matters, for their military capabilities soon gave them considerable political weight.  A garrison was quartered in the capital itself, and the bulk of the Chernye Klobuky was stationed near enough to Kiev to intervene in succession disputes and civil wars.  The Vladimir-Suzdalian princes who took over Kiev soon learned that they had to sever their alliances with the Polovtsy to stay on good terms with the Chernye Klobuky.
    "Soviet scholars have been too ready to detect the influence of the more 'developed' Kievan culture on the nomadic Chernye Klobuky.  Allegedly this lead to the adoption of Orthodox Christianity, 'feudal' relations, agriculture, and the sedentary life.  However, most of the Chernye Klobuky must have remained nomadic, if only to preserve their steppe military skills, which atrophied rapidly when the nomadic way of life was abandoned.  (Perhaps nomads fresh from the steppe were rotated regularly into the Kievan garrison.)  Certainly the Chernye Klobuky became integrated into Kievan society and polity to a considerable degree.  In a chronicle entry from 1151 they express their willingness to die for the 'Russian Land' (russkaia zemlia).  This concept expressed the higher loyalties of the Kievan Rus' elite.  The Kievan chronicles would not lightly have projected such an expression of Russian political ideology onto the Chernye Klobuky."

* Nicolle/McBride 1999 p29
"When one steppe tribe was defeated by another, the defeated military elite traditionally moved on or accepted subordinate status under the new rulers.  When such people reached the western end of the steppes they effectively had nowhere else to go, as the rise of powerful European states removed the option of taking over the Hungarian Plain or conquering territory in the Balkans.  Consequently, following the arrival of the Kipchaks, part of the defeated Pechenegs, Torks and Berends sought refuge in the wooded-steppe borderlands of southern Russia, where they were generally welcomed by Rus' princes.
    "During the late 11th century these military immigrants evolved into the Chernye Klobuki or, in Turkish, the Karakalpak.  Both names meant Black Hoods or Hats, after the characteristic headgear of these nomads.  For their part the eclectic nature of nomad culture made it relatively easy for them to fit into their new environment, where they -- like those who settled within Hungarian territory -- defended their patrons' frontiers against each other and against new invaders.
    "For a while the Torks, who were related to the Oghuz who conquered most of the eastern Islamic world in the 11th century, formed the main element of the Chernye Klobuki.  They settled in the Ros river basin, along the forest frontier, the Bukovina and the northern slopes of the Carpathian mountains, forming autonomous warrior communities around small gorod wood and timber forts.  The Berends arrived under similar circumstances around the same time.
    "The social and military organization of the Chernye Klobuki was different to that of the Rus'.  For example, the Torks' leader was recognized as a prince by the Rus' and the Chernye Klobuki retained much of their tribal structure.  Archaeological and documentary evidence also shows that they were numerous, well-armed and prosperous; their leaders often wore silk headgear, silver chains and earrings made in Russia, while most had converted to Christianity by the late 12th century.  By then Chernye Klobuki of Berend and perhaps other origins were formed into regular military forces.  They proved effective against Poles and Hungarians, defended the west bank of the Dnieper from 'civilized' Kipchaks, but were particularly hostile to the Dikie Polovsty [sic] or 'wild Kipchaks' east of that river."

* Nossov/Dennis 2007 p16
"In the late 11th-early 12th centuries Rus' experienced a period of feudal disruption.  A weakening of the authority of the Kievan princes and the disintegration of a once united state into independent principalities necessitated changes in Russian defensive strategy.  With the incessant strife forcing each principality to defend its own frontiers, Russian princes began to make use of nomadic tribesmen to protect their land from the raids of other nomads.  Back in the mid 11th century Pechenegs, Torks, and Berendeis had been allowed to settle in the border areas.  These settlers, known as Chernye Klobuki (Black Hoods), served as a sort of barrier between the steppe and Rus'.  In exchange for land they were obliged to participate in military operations against the enemies of Rus'.  From that point onwards, raids by the Polovtsy were repulsed by united actions of Chernye Klobuki and Russians, or by Chernye Klobuki alone under the command of a Russian voivode (commander).  In addition to defensive warfare, retaliatory raids into the steppe to drive out the Polovtsy from their camps took place from the turn of the 11th-12th century.  Vladimir Monomakh and his son Mstislav were especially successful in the elaboration of these tactics."

* Çağatay/Kuban eds. 2006 p206
"The enlistment of nomad mercenaries in that period was dictated by sheer necessity and was widely practiced by Byzantium, Hungary, Volga Bulgaria, Danube Bulgaria, and Rus'.  Such mercenaries would be settled in designated territories -- usually the environs of princely residences and economic centers (zizn' in the terminology of Old Rus' sources) and/or on the frontiers.  As skilled horsemen, they provided the Rus' princes with what they needed most -- a light standing army that was easy to maneuver.  The relationships between the princes and their nomad vassals was of a quasi-feudal nature.  The following passage from the Kievan Chronicle shows how the four leading princes of the Berendei (a branch of the Torki) viewed their role and what conditions they made to Prince Mstislav Izjaslavic in 1159, before they would aid him against Izjaslav Davidovic to take Kiev.  They said: 'We are both good and bad for you, O Prince.  If you will be as devoted to us as your father [Mstislav Izjaslavic (1146-54)] used to be, and will give to each of us a better [i.e., profitable] town, then we will abandon Izjaslav [Davidovic].'  Pleased by their words, Mstislav sent to them Olbyr Serosevic that very night and granted them all that they wished, while Olbyr swore an oath to them on behalf of the Prince.    
    "In the last quarter of the eleventh century, every important prince of Rus' had Torki in his service.  They in turn tended to serve their masters loyally.  The major area of Torki settlement in Rus' was the frontier territory along the River Ros' to the south of Kiev, the so-called Porossja.  Their center, the town of Torcesk (Torcisk), was located there.  The last time the Torki were mentioned in Rus' was 1235."


* Gorelik 1995 p29
"The weaponry of the so-called 'black hoods', Turkic tribes serving the Kiev kingdom and constituting the bulk of its cavalry, was akin to that of the Cumans."

* Nicolle/McBride 1999 p33
"The Chernye Klobuki ... entered Rus' service with their own arms, armour and harness, which were described as superior to those of the Rus' themselves."