"Tomb Of William The Conqueror" Top 5 Page for this destination Caen Things to Do Tip by darkjedi

Caen Things to Do: 83 reviews and 207 photos

  The Tomb
by darkjedi

The tomb of William the Conqueror of 1066 fame is located in the Abbeye aux Hommes. William the Conqueror died early on the morning of September 9, 1087 in Rouen. Gesta Regum Anglorum states that William, his stomach protruding over the forward part of his saddle, was injured when he was thrown against the pommel and his internal organs ruptured. He was fifty-nine years old and had ruled England for twenty-one years and Normandy for thirty-one more. In accordance with his wishes, he was buried in Saint-Etienne Abbey Church in the Abbaye-aux-Hommes.

Then something macabre happened. The monk of Caen writes that William was "great in body and strong, tall in stature but not ungainly." When it came time to bury the heavy body, it was discovered that the stone sarcophagus had been made too short. There was an attempt to force the corpse and, says Orderic, "the swollen bowels burst, and an intolerable stench assailed the nostrils of the by-standers and the whole crowd." Even the frankincense and spices of the censers was not enough to mask the smell, and the rites were hurriedly concluded.

William Rufus commissioned a memorial for his father, "a noble tomb, which to this day shines with gold and silver and precious stones in handsome style" with an inscription in gold. This memorial was to survive until 1522, when William's body was examined and reinterred. Forty years later, it was destroyed by a Calvinist mob and the remains scattered. Only a single thigh bone survived, which was preserved and reburied under a new monument in 1642. But even this was destroyed during the French Revolution.

Now only a simple stone slab marks the burial place of William the Conqueror. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle provides his epitaph.

"He who was earlier a powerful king, and lord of many a land, he had nothing of any land but a seven-foot measure; and he who was at times clothed with gold and with jewels, he lay then covered over with earth."

Address: Esplanade Jean-Marie-Louvel

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Was this review helpful?

  • Updated Apr 14, 2008
  • Send to a Friend
  • Add to your Trip Planner
  • Report Abuse


darkjedi Visits Here Frequently!


“You'll never get there unless you actually click 'BUY NOW'”

Online Now


Top 1,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 0 8 0 5
Forum Rank:
0 2 3 6 9

Have you been to Caen?

  Share Your Travels