Castle of Falaise

Fortified medieval castle in Falaise, William the Conqueror’s birthplace

Built on a rocky outcrop, the castle of Falaise, majestically dominating a vast plain, is one of the rare examples of medieval castles in Normandy.
This is the place where William the Conqueror was born in 1027, from the union of Robert the Magnificent and Herleva, a very attractive young woman, the daughter of a rich tanner who became his official mistress. As Robert never married, William was his only son, and though he was illegitimate, he was officially introduced to the court of Normandy as his legal heir.
But William was only 8 when his father died and suffered of lot of trouble created by his barons in rebellion, who didn’t accept the authority of a “bastard son”. Surviving several murder attempts, he had to recapture his dukedom piece by piece, before being accepted as the sole master of Normandy.
When he invaded England in 1066 after the victory of the Battle of Hastings, he was named William the Conqueror.
Almost nothing of the castle remains from William’s time, the big square keep was built by his son, Henry I Beauclerc. His grandson Henry II Plantagenet built another smaller rectangular keep. He and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine stayed in the castle, and organized a nice party for Christmas 1159.
The circular keep, or Talbot Tower, was erected by the king of France Philip Augustus, after he had captured Normandy from John Lackland. Inside the keeps, the different spaces have been organized so that one can imagine the way people used to live there.