Caen, a town of Normandy, France, capital of the department of Calvados, upon the river Orne, 10 m. from its mouth, and 120 m. W. N. W. of Paris; pop. in 1866, 41,564. It is on the line of the Paris and Cherbourg railway, at its junction with a railway from the south. The Odon falls into the Orne at the city, and a basin is formed which is connected by a ship canal with the ocean, so that vessels of 200 tons are enabled to reach Caen. Its streets are broad and straight. William the Conqueror built here a large church, known as the abbaye aux hommes, now the church of St. Etienne, where he was buried; while his queen, Matilda, was the founder of another church, the abbaye aux femmes, now the church of Saint Trinite, whose elegant architecture contrasts with the austere severity of the former. The church of St. Pierre is remarkable for the beauty of its spire; and there are several other fine churches. The finest promenades are the Grand Cours along the Orne, the Petit Cours, and the Cours Caffarelli. The hotel de Valois, built in 1538 for Nicolas Le Valois, is now the exchange. The prefecture, the theatre, the hall of the university, and the hotel de ville are fine buildings. In the hotel de ville is a public library of more than 50,000 volumes.
The museum contains a fine collection of paintings. The principal manufacture, that of lace, employs 20,000 women and children. There are four ship yards, and cut stone, quarried in the neighborhood, is exported in large quantities. - Caen was strongly fortified by the dukes of Normandy, but of these fortifications one tower and a castle are all that remain. It was taken in 1346 by Edward III. just before the battle of Orecy; and again by the English in 1417, who held it till 1450. It suffered during the civil and religious wars of the 16th century; it was pillaged by the Huguenots in 1562, and deprived by the revocation of the edict of Nantes, in 1685, of most of its skilled artisans. After June 2, 1793, it was the headquarters of the Girondists. Here, in the same lunatic hospital, died Beau Brummel and Bourrienne, the secretary of Napoleon.
Apsis of Church of St. Pierre.