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14th century

Bernardine Complex Bernardine Complex Population - 2 thousand inhabitants

In the 14th century the city was alternately controlled by Lithuanian prince Gedemin and Volyn prince Andrei Yuryevich, Polish king Kazimierz III the Great and Lithuanian prince Keystut. In 1379 Berestye was robbed and destroyed by the Teutonic knights, but the castle proved to be inaccessible to the crusaders.

After a short time the city regenerated, brisk trade was flourishing, rich fairs were being organised, and the first bazaar was built. Berestye merchants were conducting their trade on a large scale: they were exporting to Europe grain, furs, leathers, hemp and wood, and importing cloth, silk, salt, glass, crockery, paper, and jewellery. Blacksmithing, pottery, sewing, shoemaking, jewellery, woodworking, spinning and weaving reached their fullest flower. The city people were also engaged in agriculture, stock raising, hunting and fishing, thus providing themselves with food.

In 1390 Berestye was the first among the Belarusian cities and the second after Vilno in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to obtain the autonomy known as the Magdeburg Laws. At that time the city was governed by a rada (council) elected by the city people from the prominent merchants and artisans. The grand duke of Lithuania appointed a prefect, head of the city rada.

In the same year Berestye was allowed to use its emblem and seal, which were afterwards more than once modified. The most famous of the Berestye emblems represented a silver bow and arrow on a blue background; a hipped tower similar to Berestye donjon on a red background at the intersection of two rivers; a galloping silver horseman on a red background (the emblem of the Berestye province called "Pogonia" - [pursuit]).
Герб Брестской области