Legend has it that a giant called Menesk or Mincz had a mill on the banks of a river nearby the city. He used to grind stones for making bread in order to feed his warriors. The name Minsk more likely comes from the word '\'miena'' ("barter" in English) based on the city's long commercial history.
By the 10th century, Prince Ravhalod (Ragnvald in Norse), of Viking origin, ruled a principality named Polacak, which included Minsk. The first recorded mention of Minsk dates from 1066, related to dynastic wars between Polacak and Kiev principalities. Minsk later fell under the influence of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a state that later formed a union with the Kingdom of Poland.
French Emperor Napoleon conquered the city in 1812. The locals gave him strong support and celebrated the liberation of the city from Russian rule. After a very short Napoleonic rule, Minsk was again subdued by Russia and once again became part of the Russian Empire. Later it became on of the constitutent republics of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Under the communist regime, Minsk become capital of the Beylorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. Since 1991 the city has been the capital of the independent Belarus state. It is known as Mensk in the Belarusian language.