It is situated in Silesia in the Opole Voivodeship on the left bank of the Oder. The town of Brzeg was first mentioned as a trading and fishing settlement in the year From the early 14th to late 17th centuries, the town was ruled by the Piast dynasty , the first historical ruling dynasty of Poland. It then came under the control of the House of Habsburg , and later became part of Germany. Brzeg was in earlier documents referred to as Civitas Altae Ripae , meaning "city at high banks" of the Oder Odra river; its name is derived from the Polish Brzeg shore.
The historian Konstanty Darmot — , in his book of the etymology of Silesian localities, states that in a Latin document from , the settlement's name was Visoke breg Polish : Wysokibrzeg; German : Wissokembreghe High Bank. The early human populous left behind traces of lithic flakes , flint flakes and other flint related tools.
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The earliest signs of agriculture come around during the Neolithic Era — BC. The Neolithic culture developed agriculture and domesticated farm animals ; this lifestyle led Nomadic cultures to settle in the locality. The culture settled in the region and in large continued to develop agriculture and the domestication of farm animals.
The natural economy of the culture was based on weaving, pottery and metal works. The Lusatian culture's populous that inhabited the Brzeg Lands was identified by archaeological excavations, revealing 17 individual localities, including 3 hamlets and 8 burial sites, namely a fortified wooden settlement in Rybna and an open-pit crematory in Pisarzowice with 30 discovered burial sites.
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Around BC, the peoples of Silesia Celtic and Germanic tribes began trading with the Roman Empire , as evidenced through the findings of Roman currency in the locality. In the 7th century Slavic peoples started settling in the region. The ages of AD — saw the establishment of the early feudal system in Silesia. The era was characteristic of the establishment of gord settlements, towns and the continued development of trade and crafts. It is believed the permanent populous around modern-day Brzeg was set up by Silesian tribes.
The Ryczyn gords became the main line of defence for the Silesians , namely to protect the river trade routes along the River Oder and the land trade route between Ryczyn the locality's administrative centre, home to a castellan and Brzeg being some 10 kilometres 6. The importance of the Ryczyn gords is demonstrated by Henry V of the Holy Roman Empire 's army halting their advancement before the gords in Between the ninth and early-tenth century, the Brzeg Lands, together with that of Silesia , were part of the Kingdom of Great Moravia until its demise in AD , after which, until the region was under the rule of the Przemyslids.
Around the year , Silesia was annexed into Mieszko I 's Poland. During the Fragmentation of Poland — c. Before the town's foundation, three separate settlements existed in its modern-day territory, with "Wysoki Brzeg" Alta ripa bearing the main administrative role in the region.
During the Reformation , the church was deconstructed, and its brickwork used for the construction of the town's fortifications. A chronicle from the sixteenth-century states it was "the first church", however, no more is known about the holy site. Around the peripheries of the settlement, was the location of several hospital buildings.
By the end of the thirteenth-century, the Duke of Brzeg possessed 10 shambles. The market is believed to be characteristic of other Silesian towns, commonly selling agricultural produce, namely bread, meat and shoes. Prior to the locality receiving its town charter in or , the settlement had characteristics of a town and not of an ordinary fishing village, being referred to as "civitas" in an early Latin document, as exemplified by the existence of the curia , church and a major market, allowing the settlement to develop through the exchange of produce and barter.
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Rybacka , in accordance to ancient Polish law were charged with the task of protecting the Ducal Castle along the riverside. By the turn of the thirteenth century, the defenceless populous living in the pastures of the Brzeg Plain began to relocate into the fortified Visoke breg , building up a new osiedle around the present-day streets of: ul. To the west of the fortified centre of Brzeg, the settlement of Rataje a separate village until as the former village's etymology suggests, centered around the upkeep of the ducal pastures.
The foundation was carried out by the three lokators, Gerkinus of Goldberg , Ortlif and Heinrich of Reichenbach. While in power, Henry III, granted the town by a singular payment the forest around the locality of Lubsza. His successor, Henryk IV the Righteous regulated the town's church affairs, as well as renouncing his patronage over St. Marii Panny , located west of the town's western boundary. Nicholas in The town was fortified in From Brzeg was the capital of a Lower Silesian duchy Duchy of Brzeg ruled by the Piast dynasty, a branch of the dukes of Lower Silesia, one of whom built a castle in The Duchy became part of the Kingdom of Bohemia in The town was burned by the Hussites in and soon afterwards rebuilt.
In the Thirty Years' War it suffered greatly; in the War of the Austrian Succession it was heavily bombarded by the Prussian forces ; and in it was captured by Napoleon 's army.
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When Bohemia fell to the Habsburg Monarchy of Austria in , the town fell under the overlordship of the Habsburgs in their roles of Kings of Bohemia, although it was still ruled locally by the Silesian Piasts. Upon the extinction of the last duke George William of Legnica in , Brieg came under the direct rule of the Habsburgs.
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On the death of George William the last duke in , however, Austria refused to acknowledge the validity of the treaty and annexed the duchies and Frederick the Great of the Kingdom of Prussia used this treaty to justify his claim at the invasion of Silesia during the War of the Austrian Succession in The war had brought the most severe destruction to the town in its entire history. Some of the town's population was evacuated by the German Army who moved its population further west inside Germany for safety and declared Brieg "Festung Brieg" Fortification Brieg.
After the fall of the town to the Soviets the remaining German population were later subject to harassment and expulsion see Expulsion of Germans after World War II.
After the war, the Potsdam Conference placed Silesia, and thus the town, under Polish administration. Subsequently, Brzeg and Lower Silesia were repopulated by Polish whom Soviets expelled from the eastern part of prewar Poland.
From the late 19th century the then German town of Brieg had expanded into a traditional military garrison town, from until it was the home town base to Infantry Regiment No. Schlesisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr.
Armee-Korps , 12th Division Division , 78th Infantry Brigade At the end of World War I the garrison barracks at Brieg remained for some years after without a stationed military regiment. Schwadron Reiterregiments Nr.
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It was from Brieg garrison, the German Cavalry Captain Rittmeister Konrad Freiherr von Wangenheim became famous for securing a Gold medal win at the Summer Olympics in Berlin for the German equestrian team whilst suffering from a broken collarbone. In an airfield located in nearby Hermsdorf was also built and thereby a much larger military aerodrome was established.
Towards the end of World War II , on 6 February , the Soviet army captured Brzeg, which resulted in moderate destruction of the town's buildings and infrastructure. Since the reconstructed town has been a part of the Opole Voivodeship.
As the town was situated on the commercial route to Wrotizla , in which a colony of Jews had long resided, Jews settled there about The Jewish community of Brieg had its separate place of worship from early times.
In Jews lent money to local noblemen and the duke of Brieg, Ludwig I, who granted the Jews freedom of movement in the duchy in that year. In the 14th century the Jews of Brieg were persecuted on account of their usurious practices; one outbreak of such violence occurred in In it was claimed that all debts of the duke had been discharged by the payments to a Jew of Brieg Jacob, the son of Moses , of a certificate of indebtedness.
In the Brieg Jews bought a letter of protection from the duke, whereby they were guaranteed the peaceful possession of their privileges. But in they were driven from the city, except Jacob and Seman von Reichenbach , who had received a patent of protection from the duke's council for six years from May 1, In , duke Ludwig II granted the Jews rights of residence on payment of an annual tax of 20 gulden , but they were expelled from the duchies of Brieg and Liegnitz in as a result of the inflammatory preachings of the Franciscan John Capistrano.
Solomo, a capitalist, lent large sums of money to royal houses in the 15th century. In the 16th century, one of the local Jews served as a physician to the duke of Brieg.
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With the decline of Breslau as a trade center, the Jews of Brieg became little more than an isolated community; and in modern times they shared the lot of the other Silesian Jews.
They carried on insignificant trade operations as a rule. The conquest of Silesia by Frederick the Great brought but slight change in their condition. A synagogue was built in Brieg in , and a rabbi was first appointed in The Jewish population numbered in ; in ; in ; in ; and in In the Kristallnacht pogroms of the interior of the synagogue was completely demolished and the Torah scrolls publicly burned; numerous shops were ransacked.
The community was not reestablished after the Holocaust. The shape of the town, including its neighbouring osiedla , is comparable to that of a deformed rectangle , elongated 3.
Brzeg, as the regional capital of Brzeg County Powiat Brzeski , is located in the west of the Opole Voivodeship , in the south-east of Poland. The settlement is located in the valley of the River Odra , located between Opole The town has a predominantly flat relief in comparison to the river scarp on the eastern bank of the River Odra.
The Brzeg Plain was formed by the Riss glaciation period , to , years ago , leaving behind remnants of a ground moraine from the last glacial period. The ground moraines have left two equally small hills, bearing characteristics of kames.
The settlement of Brzeg, historically located in the regional unit of Lower Silesia as opposed to Upper Silesia , is due to the formation of a "przesieka" "clearing". The "clearing" was a lateral formation, extending northerly from the former Sudetes Wildland to the southern foothills of the Sudetes Mountains. The development of agriculture is met with a lack of forested areas, apart from the Stobrawa Landscape Park , located 7. The Stobrawa woodland, agriculture and the River Odra as a form of transport provided Brzeg the necessary diversity to remain the regional trade capital in Silesia.
Brzeg's geographical position between two trade routes, running from west to east Legnica — Opole and north to south Gniezno — Nysa and further on into the Kingdom of Bohemia , additionally stimulated the town's demographic and economic expansion. Presently, Brzeg remains located between the European route E67 and E Brzeg has five public parks , three of which encircle the Old Town Stare Miasto , after the area was transformed into parkland with the deconstruction of the garrison town's fortifications during the Napoleonic Wars in The parkland, surrounding the Old Town to its south, became known as the Planty.
The Planty constitute of the Central Park of J. Czajkowski Park Centralny im. Czajkowskiego , with a total area of 6. The largest parkland in Brzeg, located in the south-west of the town is the Park of Juliusz Peppel Park im.
The park has a total area of 1 ha.
After , the town of Brzeg was part of the population transfers of the Soviet and Polish People's Republic 's campaign to resettle Poles from Kresy annexed by the USSR to the newly annexed territories by Poland from the defeated Germany , as part of the Potsdam Agreement.
During the Polish resettlement campaign, the German population of Brzeg was expelled to the remaining territories of Germany. The newly arrived population in Brzeg predominantly came from the countryside, being former peasants.