Brest brĕst [key], city (1990 pop. 153,099), Finistère dept., NW France, on an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean. It is a commercial port, an important naval station, and the seat of the French Naval Academy. There is a national engineering school in Brest and nearby is the Oceanographic Center of Brittany. Electronics equipment, metals, paper, and clothing are the chief manufactures. The city dates from Gallo-Roman times. The spacious, landlocked harbor was created in 1631 by Cardinal Richelieu as a military base and arsenal. In 1683, during the reign of Louis XIV, Marshal Vauban built the ramparts and a castle. The French repulsed the English in 1694 off Brest in 1794 the English, under Lord Howe, defeated the French fleet. During World War II the Germans had a huge submarine base at Brest. Their heavily fortified submarine pens showed few cracks under Allied air raids but the city itself was almost completely destroyed. The German garrison capitulated to U.S. troops in 1944.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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