|Encyclopaedia Britannica 11th Edition||Public Domain via Project Gutenberg|
(Polish Brzesc-Litevski; and in the Chron. Berestie and Berestov), a strongly fortified town of Russia, in the government of Grodno, 137 m. by rail S. from the city of Grodno, in 52° 5′ N. lat. and 23° 39′ E. long., at the junction of the navigable river Mukhovets with the Bug, and at the intersection of railways from Warsaw, Kiev, Moscow and East Prussia. Pop. (1867) 22,493; (1901) 42,812, of whom more than one-half were Jews. It contains a Jewish synagogue, which was regarded in the 16th century as the first in Europe, and is the seat of an Armenian and of a Greek Catholic bishop; the former has authority over the Armenians throughout the whole country. The town carries on an extensive trade in grain, flax, hemp, wood, tar and leather. First mentioned in the beginning of the 11th century, Brest-Litovsk was in 1241 laid waste by the Mongols and was not rebuilt till 1275; its suburbs were burned by the Teutonic Knights in 1379; and in the end of the 15th century the whole town met a similar fate at the hands of the khan of the Crimea. In the reign of the Polish king Sigismund III. diets were held there; and in 1594 and 1596 it was the meeting-place of two remarkable councils of the bishops of western Russia. In 1657, and again in 1706, the town was captured by the Swedes; in 1794 it was the scene of Suvarov's victory over the Polish general Sierakowski; in 1795 it was added to the Russian empire. The Brest-Litovsk or King's canal (50 m. long), utilizing the Mukhovets-Bug rivers, forms a link in the waterways that connect the Dnieper with the Vistula.