|Map of old Brest|
At the end of the 3rd century, a fortified camp was built. Then Count Morvan undertook the building of the 1rst fortress in order to protect himself from the Normans who devastated the region.
Brest really became a military harbour under Richelieu's regency. In 1631, he built up the harbour and naval dockyards on both banks of the Penfeld river. Those buildings required an abundant manpower that needed to be housed. In 1683, Vauban decided the town to be fortified. At the end of Louis XIV's reign, the town was completely built and about 15000 people lived there.
the 18th century, a Brestian ingeneer named Choquet de Lindu oversaw the
building works in the harbour; so, in 1750 a penal colony was built -
it was not until the middle of the 19th century that jail had been closed
down. Vidocq (1775-1857) - who was a son of a baker from Arras - succeeded
escaping 2 times from that jail. When prisoners tried to escape, a cannonball
was shot in order to warn people in town; a reward was actually given
to the ones who succeeded catching prisoners. The expression "tonnerre
de Brest" (almost means roar of Brest) is not due to that kind of cannon
shooting, but to the one that announced the opening and closing of the
naval dockyards doors every day at 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.
the end of World War 2, in september 1944, Brest was freed thanks to the
2nd, 8th and 29th divisions of American infantry after a siege of 43 days
long. Old Brest had been completely destroyed. (Middleton's