Brieg, a town of Germany, in the Prussian province of Silesia, on the left bank of the Oder, and on the Breslau and Beuthen railway, 27 m. S.E. of the former city. Pop. (1900) 24,090. It has a castle (the residence of the old counts of Brieg), a lunatic asylum, a gymnasium with a good library, several churches and hospitals, and a theatre. Its fortifications were destroyed by the French in 1807, and are now replaced by beautiful promenades. Brieg carries on a considerable trade, its chief manufactures being linen, embroideries, cotton and woollen goods, ribbons, leather, machinery, hats, pasteboard and cigars. Important cattle-markets are held here. Brieg, or, as it is called in early documents, Civitas Altae Ripae, obtained municipal rights in 1250 from Duke Henry III. of Breslau, and was fortified in 1297; its name is derived from the Polish Brzeg (shore). Burned by the Hussites in 1428, the town was soon afterwards rebuilt, and in 1595 it was again fortified by Joachim Frederick, duke of Brieg. In the Thirty Years' War it suffered greatly; in that of the Austrian succession it was heavily bombarded by the Prussian forces; and in 1807 it was captured by the French and Bavarians. From 1311 to 1675 Brieg was the capital of an independent line of dukes, a cadet branch of the Polish dukes of Lower Silesia, by one of whom the castle was built in 1341. In 1537 Frederick II., duke of Liegnitz, Brieg and Wohlau, concluded with Joachim II., elector of Brandenburg, a treaty according to which his duchy was to pass to the house of Brandenburg in the event of the extinction of his line.
On the death of George William the last duke in 1675, however, Austria refused to acknowledge the validity of the treaty and annexed the duchies. It was the determination of Frederick II. of Prussia to assert his claim that led in 1740 to the war that ended two years later in the cession of Silesia to Prussia.
See Stokvis, Manuel d'histoire, iii. pp. 54, 64.