So I started to type this up when I was working on the Bordewick family story a few months back, but it made no sense to me at the time. It was too disconnected from everything, and though I knew it was where the name was assumed to be from, it felt like too much guesswork. Now that I’ve gotten a bit more information, it feels different to me, so I thought it was about time I typed it up and posted it.
This was written by my grandfather many years ago (I’m not sure how long ago, to be honest), and is based on his research about the town, though I’m not certain of his sources. I hope everyone will find it illuminating.
I’ve corrected a few minor spelling issues, but left it otherwise intact, though I have included hyperlinks to as much info in Wikipedia as I could find, though as most of this history is ancient Medieval, I'm not entirely certain on many of the links.
A map and a bit more information can be found here.
Bardowieck is a very old village down in Saxony, and belonged, as the name indicates, to the Bard and Lombard tribes, who although they were few in number, were bold in the arts of warfare. They lived on the right bank of the river Elbe, in a town which lies between Magdeburg and Stade, sixteen leagues from Luneburg towards the north. The town was built on the river Lunow, also known as the Ilmenau, in the year 2971 after the creation of the world, in the first year of the reign of Rehaboam, son of Solomon; in the year 1062 after the founding of Trier, which is recorded in plain verse carved in the woodwork of the Cathedral, and reads as follows:
”During the Lifetime of Abraham, Trier was established in the year 1906 after the creation of the world. One thousand years later Bardowieck was founded.”
In the 189th year after the destruction of Troy, 235 years before Rome was founded by Romulus and Remus, which is also inscribed in the same place.
Rome was established 235 years after Bardowieck in the year 2306 after the creation of the world. Both its (Bardowieck’s) ruins and history demonstrate that it was a grand, well fortified and very famous town.
After they had obtained the salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s son, the inhabitants were taught the gospel by Egistus, one of 70 disciples, together with Marianus. Egistus suffered martyrdom. His bones were removed to the town of Roschilde (ed – Roskilde) in Denmark after the destruction of the town. In honor of Marianus a temple was founded in the vicinity of the bridge which spans both banks of the Ilmenau, where it was thought that he had been martyred by the heathen.
Karl den Store (Charlemagne), the first German Roman Emperor of French decent, before the outcome of the war with the Saxons was known, was paid homage there in May, 785. He was the victor. He came to Bardowieck with his court from Paderborn, and when he was installed in his royal dignity gave safe conduct to the Chieftans of the Saxons, Widerkind and Albion, rulers in Holstein and Airbo from Ballenstedt and his son Beringer. Henrick, Due of Henneberg interceded for them. He wished to give his sister, Hadmutis to Beringer in marriage on the condition that he would be baptized in the Christian faith. Charlemagne permitted them to come to him and treated them very kindly, and advised them to forswear their pagan religion and receive Baptism, in which some of them were consecrated immediately.
Charlemagne also donated the Bishop’s throne with a Cathedral in the town. This throne was later removed to Verden, where it can still be seen. Thereafter, Karl, son of Charlemagne, on his father’s behalf received homage in the town of Bardowieck from the farmers of Nordal and began negotiations with the Knights of the Abbot and Wælsa in the year 799. The town was besieged by Eberhart of Pfalz and Danckner, the German, a brother of Emperor Otto I, and his enemy because of his younger half-brother Henrick who was a quarrelsome individual, who had fled thither during the civil war of 938.
The town was overwhelmed and devastated by the soldiers, and Henrick, Chief of the Saxons was taken to Larun by Eberhardt, but Henrick the Lion, Due of Bayern and Sachen, Elector and Lord over the town was banished by Emperor Fredrick Barbarossa, when the burghers of Bardowieck not only refused to receive him, but also offended him with outrageous words in 1182, and because of this he fled to England.
When he returned in 1188, he besieged the town with the help of the Danes, the English, Bernhardt of Ratzenburg and Severin Helmholdt together with Wilferen Bernhardt and the Archbishop of Bremen, and when the burghers, proud of their fortifications and a garrison which had been sent to them by Bernhardt, the Elector and Due of Saxony, disclaimed their rightful Lord Henrick, whereupon he, in a fury, and with the zeal of his namesake, the lion, conquered the entire town. He destroyed the walls, towers and gates and murdered the citizens and the soldiers. Those who were spared retreated to Luneburg with the goods they had salvaged from the ruins and rebuilt Hamburg in 1189. Regard—this event there are some simple verses carved in the door of the Cathedral:
”In the year 1189 A.D., when Henry the Lion was nominated Due of Braunshweig, he destroyed Bordoweick on Simons Day (28th October). From the booty Elector Henry enriched the Cathedral and the Churches of Lubeck and the ruins of this celebrated city (Bardoweick) and its fortifications and buildings scarcely nothing could be seen.
Therefore, learn the Commandments of righteousness and do not deny the Commandments of God.”
Now there is nothing more to relate about this except that Henry, in the first year in office of his father, the son of the Emperor presided over the Parliament meeting at this pace in 1226. Burghers and inhabitants in modern times by a great deal of farming of vegetables, and by selling turnips, apples and fragrant herbs and flowers.
Whether Bardoweick was named after the Bards or Bardo (Lombards), it is certain that it is a very old town. Romulus led his city, then center of the world before Bardowieck existed.
In earlier times the town had an impressive appearance which now is laid waste. It was a splendid town, full of buildings and with numerous inhabitants, but Henry the Lion destroyed all this when he had taken the city by aid of his kin and his troops. He left nothing undamaged except the Churches, and took the spoils to his Cathedral.
From these ruins Bardovicem (Bardowieck) arose again beside fertile Luneburg and the mighty Lubeck. A treaty granted Bardowieck to rise again for the service of Charlemagne and his leading supporters.
Now the town is one which struggles to balance its economy in market gardening and produce. How the mighty are fallen. Fate destroys fortified towns which one would consider the strongest of all. Such is the fate awaiting Kings, for Henrick himself discovered that fate had different twists and turns. He lost his place when he was banished by the Emperor’s wrath and nearly all his followers and power.
Therefore Albingen, the mid-German mountains, and the Rhine and Bavaria were named after tribes. Mananimously they underestimated the one time Henrik the Lion’s overship, and one did not see in the whole Teutonic area a similar kingdom.
He lost his kingdom he became foolhardy, therefore everyone has to fear when one encounters the unexpected shifts of fate.