CAEN Château

Tuesday 28 January 2003

One of Europe’s largest fortresses - Built by William the conqueror around 1060.

The area had settlements since 5000 BC
1st village was formed around 100BC
1st Church - VIIc Saint Martin (market place)
Around 1000, there were 8 parishes. Darnetal parish was at the site of St Pierre. Another , Cartomagus, near Abbey aux Hommes gave the name to Caen.

Château was started around 1050 after Val es Dunes when William put down a rebellion of his barons. William wanted a second capital after Rouen.
It was built on the high ground around an existing church ,- St Georges.
The first construction was of a wooden stockade and was replaced by a wall at the end of the XI c.
There were two entrances

1 towards Darnetal south

1 towards the north
Inside the protective stockade the Ducal palace was built
Ground floor domestics

Henri 1 Beauclerc modified the château.
Built a keep next to the north door around 1120. The high ground to the north posed a threat. The walls were 13ft thick and 80ft high. The well was accessed from the second floor.
He added 12 towers to the outside wall. Built the exchequer. Money was counted on to a checker board. (The office of Chancellor of the Exchequer comes from our Norman heritage) The entrance was on the first floor for security.

In spite of all this the château was more of a residence than a fortress. The interior was inhabited by the villagers of St Georges.

Philippe August took the Château in 1204 when Normandy became French.

He built a wall around the keep. A tower at each corner and a moat.
100 years war 1350 - 1450
Kings mansion was built in 1338
Became Governors house
Rebuilt in XVIIc
Museum since 1946

JPEG - 45.8 kb
The keep and moat

The Château and moat as it was before being demolished in the XIX C. The church cabn be seen and the governors house.

Caen was besieged in 1346 but resisted.
Finally fell in 1417 and became English till 1450.
The English had to protect themselves from the French and the Caen population. They built the south barbican. And added walls along the north moat.
With the end of the 100years war Chateau declined in importance.

The XVI c sees Caen growing. People moving from the countryside to the town. Churches, Private mansions, public buildings spring up.

Château became a prison and garrison for the army.
The keep was demolished in the XIXc

This building was to the left as we enter the main gateway. The church can be seen.

Château was forgotten and fell into disrepair. Walls hidden by houses built at the side.

It wasn’t untill after the war when the destruction of the houses clinging to the walls revealed the Château which was then turned into a great monument.

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