(also Obodrity), a tribe of Polabian Slavs that settled the shores of Mecklenburg Bay between the Trave and Warnow rivers. During the eighth and ninth centuries the Bodrichi headed a league of kindred tribes in the lower course of the Labe (Elbe) River. Their principal occupations were plow farming, crafts (fishing, beekeeping, and hunting), and trade. Relying on a network of fortified cities (Rarog, Ratibor, Zverin, Stargrad, and others), the Bodrichi successfully resisted incursions by the Danes and Saxons. In chronicles of the tenth and 11th centuries they are mentioned as the “foremost” people, and even as princes (duces); the power of the prince, at first elected and confirmed by the veche (popular assembly), was made hereditary beginning in the second half of the 11th century. The process of the feudalization of social relationships among the Bodrichi took place within the context of a severe struggle against Germanic aggression. During the reign of Otto I, part of the Bodrichi were obliged to accept Christianity and pay tribute; a Catholic bishopric arose in Stargrad. After staging an uprising in 1002 and restoring their independence, the tribes of the Bodrichi group and the Lusatians defended their freedom until the German crusade of 1147 against the Slavs. The early feudal state headed by the Bodrichi proved to be unstable, and it fell apart during the 1120’s and 1130’s. This facilitated the conquest of the lands of the Bodrichi by German feudal lords. The Mecklenburg Slavic Principality, formed in 1170, was subjected to Germanization.
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Gratsianskii, N. P. Bor’ba slavian i narodov Pribaltiki s nemetskoi agressiei v srednie veka. Moscow, 1943.
Lehr Splawinski, T. Plemiona stowianskie nad Laba i Odra w wiekach średnich. Katowice-Wroclaw, 1947.
Dowiat, J. “Ewolucja państwa wczesnofeudalnego na Pomorzu Zachodnim.” Przeglqd historiczny, 1956, vol. 47, no. 3, pp. 459–96.
Siedlung und Verfassung der Slawen zwischen Elbe, Saale und Oder. Published by H. Ludat. Giessen, 1960.
Brankack, J. Studien zur Wirtschaft und Sozialstruktur der Westslawen zwischen Elbe-Saale und Oder aus der Zeit vom 9. bis zum 12. Jahrhundert. Bautzen, 1964.
V. V. DOROSHENKO