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.