Administrative centre of Calvadosdépartement and of the Basse-Normandie region, France, on the River Orne, 200 km/124 mi from Paris; population (2005 est) 108,900. It is a busy port, connected by 11 km/7 mi of canal to the English Channel. The town is also a business centre, with ironworks, manufacturing, electrical, and electronic industries, and produces a building stone that has been used widely since the 11th century. In World War II Caen was one of the main objectives of the D-Day landings and was finally captured by British forces on 9 July 1944 after five weeks' fighting, during which it was badly damaged. Despite this, the town retains many historic buildings, especially churches. The central part of the town was rebuilt in the 1950s.
The town is situated in a fertile plain, the Campagne de Caen, a prosperous agricultural and horse-breeding district. The local Caen stone was used to build the cathedrals of Cologne, Winchester, and Canterbury, as well as Henry VII's Chapel at Westminster Abbey.
History Caen dates from at least the 9th century. It was taken by Edward III in 1346 and again by the English in 1417 and held until 1450. In the 17th century Caen was a Huguenot stronghold, and lost many of its leading citizens after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. During the French Revolution it was a centre of the Girondin (right-wing Republican) faction. The British dandy Beau Brummell was a consul here and died in a lunatic asylum in 1840.
Buildings The church of St-Etienne (also called the Abbaye-aux-Hommes) was founded by William the Conqueror. A monument there set up to him by William Rufus was destroyed in 1562 by the Huguenots, when the church also was much damaged. It was restored early in the 17th century, a marble slab marking William's former resting-place. The church of the Trinity (also called the Abbaye-aux-Dames) was founded by William's wife, Matilda, who was buried in the choir. The university was founded in 1432 by the Prince Regent, the Duke of Bedford, during the minority years of Henry VI of England. Rebuilt after 1950, it now occupies a large campus north of the château. There is also an 11th-century castle, a 16th-century mansion, and the Gothic church of St Pierre.
Caen in 1944