After the Val es Dune battle in 1047, the young duke William imposed to his vassals the “Peace of God”. The main palaces of the Duchy where still in the North and the East of Normandy. In order to control better the Western side of Normandy, he decided to built a castle on the Orne river by a small town of tanners.
Very soon the Duke’s town grew round it. It was later surrounded by ramparts.
After he married Matilda of Flanders against the will of the pope, William had to negotiate his way to heaven. He would avoid excommunication by building 4 hospitals and 2 abbeys.
The 2 monasteries were built in the proximity of the new castle. The 2 monarchs (William and Matilda) are buried in the abbey churches.
Around the Men’s abbey grew the Abbot’s town (also fortified), around the Women’s abbey grew the Abbess’s town.
Once the fortifications became obsolete, the extension of the towns was no longer limited.
The 3 towns became Caen city.
The medieval city was very badly damaged during the battle of Normandy.
A part of the town remained on fire for 2 weeks after the first air strike on D‘Day.
Fortunately, the main historical buildings survived and the city was rebuilt with the local limestone.