Cyril and Methodius, Society of

Cyril and Methodius, Society of


a secret political organization with the goal of establishing a democratic federation of Slavs headed by the Ukraine.

It was formed in late 1845 and early 1846 in Kiev by N. I. Kostomarov, a historian and professor at the University of Kiev; V. M. Belozerskii, a teacher; and N. I. Gulak, a civil servant. Its general membership rose to several dozen, including T. G. Shevchenko, the writer P. A. Kulish, the teacher D. P. Pil’shchikov, the students I. Ia. Posiada and G. V. Andruzskii, the landowner N. I. Savich, and the former student A. A. Navrotskii.

The society’s organizational principles and program were outlined in the Statute of the Society of Cyril and Methodius and what was called Divine Law. The society set as its task the national and social (in the antifeudal sense) emancipation of the Ukraine, including the abolition of serfdom and estate privileges and the proclamation of the freedom of conscience. The Slavic federation it envisioned was to include the Ukraine and Russia, Poland, Bohemia, Serbia, and Bulgaria. Supreme legislative authority was to be vested in a bicameral sejm, with a president as its executive.

The implementation of the society’s political ideals was to be accomplished by peaceful reformist means and by the application of the “Gospel rules of love, meekness, and patience.” The group’s tactics were not fully worked out, however, and the views of its members differed. In contrast to the general reformist stance of the society, Shevchenko held a revolutionary-democratic position. His views were shared to a certain extent by Gulak and Navrotskii. Kulish, on the other hand, had the most moderate views of the group.

The society existed for 13 to 14 months, during which it was only in the process of organization. As a result, its practical activity amounted to very little. In March 1847, on the basis of a denunciation by the student A. M. Petrov, who had joined the society as an agent provocateur, its members were arrested and in May were sentenced to various punishments. Shevchenko was conscripted into the army, Gulak was imprisoned in the Shlissel’burg Fortress, and the rest were exiled. The government, fearing the spread of democratic ideas, played down the organization’s republican character and portrayed it as having sought the union of all Slavs under the Russian empire.


Zaionchkovskii, P. A. Kirillo-Mefodievskoe obshchestvo (1846–1847). Moscow, 1959.