Brest, Belarus

Coordinates: 52°08′N 23°40′E / 52.133°N 23.667°E / 52.133; 23.667
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Flag of Brest
Coat of arms of Brest
Coordinates: 52°08′N 23°40′E / 52.133°N 23.667°E / 52.133; 23.667
VoblastBrest Voblast
RaionBrest Raion
 • MayorAlexander Palishenkow
 • Total145 km2 (56 sq mi)
280.4 m (919.9 ft)
 • Total310,800
 • Density2,143/km2 (5,550/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
Postal code
Area code+375 (0)162
License plate1

Brest is a city in Belarus. It is at the border with Poland opposite the city of Terespol, where the Bug River and Mukhavets rivers meet. It is the capital city of the Brest Region.

There are two universities in Brest: A.S.Pushkin State University and Brest State Technical University. There are some newspapers in Brest: Brestskaya Gazeta, Brestskiy Kurier, Brestskiy Vestnik, Vecherniy Brest, Zarya.

History[change | change source]

Brest is one of the oldest cities of the Galicia-Volyn principality. It was first mentioned in the Lawrence Chronicle in 1017 as a city of Derevlyany. The Novgorod first chronicle mentions this city in the year 1017 "Yaroslav goes to Brest". It is also mentioned in the Tale of Past Years around 1019: Sviatopolk, defeated by Yaroslav Volodymyrovych, fled to Poland via Brest.

As a border town, Brest was often attacked by Yatvyags, Poles, Lithuanians, and Teutonic Knights. The city was the center of the Brest land and one of the most important cities of Kievan Rus and the Galicia-Volyn principality.

In 1020 Brest was captured by the King of Poland Boleslaw the Brave, but in 1022 the city was recaptured by Jaroslav the Wise. In 1210 Brest was captured by Konrad Mazowiecki and Leszek Krakowski, but in 1213 the Russian army of Danylo Halytsky returned the city. In 1241 Brest was completely devastated by the Tatars. It was rebuilt by the Volyn princes. Princes Mstislav Danilovich and Yuri Lvovich competed for Brest.

In the 1320s, Brest was captured by the Lithuanian prince Gediminas. In the 1340s, Brest was ruled by the Lithuanian prince Keystut. In 1366, under the agreement of the Lithuanian prince Olgerd with the Poles, Brest passed to Keystut. In 1379 Brest was burned by the Teutonic knights. In 1382 Brest was besieged by the Polish prince Janusz Mazowiecki. In 1390 the city received the Magdeburg rights in the Holy Roman Empire[1]. In 1397, the Teutonic Knights again ravaged the city.

From 1413 to 1510 the city, together with Brest County, was part of the Trotsky Voivodeship. In 1463 Brest was burned by the Crimean Tatar army led by Mengli-Girey. In 1491 a hospital for the crippled was opened in Brest at the expense of local magnates. In 1500, Mengli-Girey ravaged the city again.

In 1553 the first printing house in the Ukrainian lands was founded in Brest, which published about 40 books in Polish. In the middle of the 16th century, the printing house in Brest was for a short time the center of publishing of Polish-Lithuanian Protestants. In 1563, it published the Bible in Polish.

In 1566, it became the center of the newly created Brest Voivodeship. In 1591 the St. Nicholas Brotherhood began to operate at the Church of St. Nicholas in the city.

In 1596 the Union of Brest was agreed at the church cathedral in Brest. The Eastern Orthodox bishops agreed a union with the Roman Catholic Church. At this Council in the Cathedral Church of St. Nicholas on October 18 (8), 1596, most of the hierarchs of the Kyiv metropolis accepted the union. In 1614 a Jesuit college was founded in Brest.

In September 1648, after the appearance of a small Cossack detachment near Brest, an uprising took place. The nobility was overthrown and declared to join the Hetmanate. The uprising in Brest was suppressed in January 1649 by the Polish army led by Lithuanian Hetman Janusz Radziwill. The city was captured and severely devastated. In 1649 another uprising took place in Brest, during which 2,000 people died. After the Polish occupation of the city, Colonel Duminsky of the Zaporizhzhya Army organized an underground insurgent network in Brest on Khmelnytsky's instructions. He was arrested in the summer of 1651 and later executed.

In 1657, the city was ravaged by the troops of Rakoczi and Karl Gustav. In January 1660, Brest was taken over by the Moscow army led by Khovansky, but in 1661 the Polish army regained control of the city.

In the second half of the XVII century it declined. The city had a Basilian monastery and the Church of the Apostles Peter and Paul.

In 1705 the city was captured by the Saxon army led by Augustus II. In 1707, Swedish troops devastated a number of settlements in Polissya, including Brest. In 1792, the city became the center of the leaders of the Trade Confederation, which opposed the Polish constitution of 1791.

In 1795, Brest, together with the western part of the Brest Voivodeship, became part of the Russian Empire. In 1801, it became a county town of the Grodno province and officially became known as Brest-Litovsk. In 1802, a fire broke out in Brest, destroying 160 houses. In 1822 and 1828, two more fires broke out in the city, the first of which burned down the commercial part of Brest, and during the fire of 1828 - 220 houses, including the Greek Catholic Church, the Brigitte Monastery, 150 slaughterhouses and 5 Jewish schools.

In order to build a fortress, the Russian authorities completely destroyed the old town of Brest, located between the Western Bug and the Mukhavets. To the east, in 1831, a new city with the old name was founded.

In the second half of the XIX century Brest became a railway junction. Its trade value increased and the population grew (up to 20,000 people in 1880). In 1873 and 1882, workers' strikes took place in the city. In 1905-1907, during revolutionary demonstrations throughout the Russian Empire, workers' strikes took place in Brest as well.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the officer of the fortress Onopriy Vasylenko (Ohrim Varnak) founded a theatrical troupe in the city, organized meetings with readings of Ukrainian classics, rallies of 1905 and celebrations of Taras Shevchenko's anniversaries. In 1902-1914, the troupe staged works by Ivan Kotlyarevsky, Ivan Karpenko-Kary, Hryhoriy Kvitka-Osnovyanenko, and Mark Kropyvnytsky. In 1915-1918, first in Bila Pidlaska, and later in Brest, the Ukrainian weekly Ridne Slovo was published. In 1916, one of the first Enlightenment centers in Polissya was founded in Brest.

In December 1917, peace talks between the Central Powers and the Ukrainian People's Republic and Bolshevik Russia began in Brest. According to the Brest Peace Treaty, signed on February 9, 1918 in the White Palace of the Brest Fortress, Brest, Kholm and Podlasie became part of the Ukrainian People's Republic. In March 1918, the Kholm Provincial Eldership (province) was formed as part of the Ukrainian People's Republic, and Brest became its administrative center. Ukrainian periodicals were published in the city: "Ridne slovo", "Mir", "Visnyk Kholmskoho gubernialskoho starostva". In 1918, a local troupe (Vasyl Dmytriyuk, Bigunivna, G. Drozd, Prokop) staged Ivan Kotlyarevsky's Natalka Poltavka in Brest, and the funds raised went to Turkevych's orphanage. On December 1, 1918, the founding congress of the Enlightenment was held in Brest.

On February 2, 1919, Polish troops entered the Brest region, first capturing the Brest Fortress and later Brest itself.

In 1920, the Ukrainian division of General Bezruchko was established in Brest. In 1920, Brest was captured by Bolshevik troops, but in the same year they were driven out by the Polish army. On March 21, 1920, the 6th Reserve Brigade of the UPR Army under the command of General Ivan Fedenyak-Bilynsky was based in Brest. From 1920, a camp of interned regiments of the UGA operated in the city, and in 1930-1931 it was a prison for opposition deputies.

References[change | change source]

  1. Леонюк 1996, p. 65-66, 349.