Bommen Berend

I am not quite sure whether he would be very pleased with it himself, but Bernhard Baron von Galen (1606-1676), Bishop of Münster in Germany from 1650 to 1676 is still celebrated in the city where I live … on 28 August each year again. And not because he was so beloved, but because he wasn’t.

Parts of what is now the province of Groningen, The Netherlands, once were part of the Bishopric of Münster. Of course Bernhard von Galen wanted to have the areas back. The first time he invaded the Netherlands was in the year 1665. He was however surprisingly quickly defeated. He tried once again in 1672. At first he succeeded and conquered a few towns and fortresses. However the fortress of Bourtange managed to brave the bishop. He moved on and on 21 July 1672 the troops of the bishop arrived outside the city of Groningen. He plundered the countryside, but didn’t manage to get control of the whole area around the city. The bishop’s bombs didn’t get much further than the south of the city, the north however was out of reach. The Dutch troops within the walls of Groningen were by the way led by Carl von Rabenhaupt, Baron van Sucha (1602-1675). On 28 August 1672 the bishop had to give up and he and his troops left. Later that year he also had to give up some other places he had conquered that year.

Since the inhabitants of Groningen and surroundings have celebrated the defeat of the bishop. Officially the feastday is called “Gronings Ontzet”, but often the day is called “Bommen Berend” (Bombing Bernard), the bishop’s nickname. Public offices and quite a few companies close their doors. There is music, a market, a fair, fireworks and horse events.


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