Black Heads

Black Heads

 

(also Schwarzhäupter). (1) A society in Livonia from the 14th to 16th centuries, membership in which was dependent on a person’s class and religion. The members included servants and low-ranking officials of the Livonian Order. The name of the society is derived from the group’s coat of arms, on which an image of the head of St. Mauritius was emblazoned.

(2) From the 14th to early 20th centuries, societies of foreign merchants in the Baltic region who did not have their homes and families in the area. Named for the symbol of St. Mauritius, who was considered their protector, the Black Heads defended the interests of foreign merchants and arranged social activities for them. In Riga, Tallin, and Vilnius, the societies owned houses that fulfilled the combined functions of clubs and dormitories. A number of the buildings constructed for the Black Heads have been preserved and are outstanding monuments of medieval architecture in the Baltic region.

(3) In Riga until 1939, a society of Riga German merchants who were bachelors.

References in classic literature ?
The clamor, the songs and demonstrations of all kinds increased twofold, and the whole immense ants' nest of black heads was again in motion.
Then I noticed the opening of the place was darkened by two more black heads. My hand tightened on my stick.
On one was piled certain curiously twisted and complicated figures, called “nut-cakes,” On another were heaps of a black-looking sub stance, which, receiving its hue from molasses, was properly termed “sweet-cake ;” a wonderful favorite in the coterie of Remarkable, A third was filled, to use the language of the housekeeper, with “cards of gingerbread ;” and the last held a “ plum- cake,” so called from the number of large raisins that were showing their black heads in a substance of suspiciously similar color.
So much as they could see of the road Londonward between the houses to the right was a tumultuous stream of dirty, hurrying people, pent in between the villas on either side; the black heads, the crowded forms, grew into distinct- ness as they rushed towards the corner, hurried past, and merged their individuality again in a receding multitude that was swallowed up at last in a cloud of dust.
Out from the centre of the sea, poor Pip turned his crisp, curling, black head to the sun, another lonely castaway, though the loftiest and the brightest.
"Aye, aye, we're coming," Seth answered from within, and presently appeared stooping under the doorway, being taller than usual by the black head of a sturdy two-year-old nephew, who had caused some delay by demanding to be carried on uncle's shoulder.
Nesvitski looked round and saw, some fifteen paces away but separated by the living mass of moving infantry, Vaska Denisov, red and shaggy, with his cap on the back of his black head and a cloak hanging jauntily over his shoulder.
After a minute the water broke six feet away, and a black head and white shoulder showed in the moonlight.
After the meal the two curled up together in a thicket, the man's black head pillowed upon the tawny side of the panther.
They were in animated conversation, and were apparently reading something aloud to each other, for the black head and the curly brown one were both bent over a sheet of letter paper.
'Quick, Rose-red, open the door, it must be a traveller who is seeking shelter.' Rose-red went and pushed back the bolt, thinking that it was a poor man, but it was not; it was a bear that stretched his broad, black head within the door.
"Don't let that young giant come near me, he worries me worse than mosquitoes," whispered the old lady to Amy, as the rooms filled and Laurie's black head towered above the rest.