A Bit of History

Once upon a time in Domfront ...


Between 1048 and 1052 Geoffroy II Martel, Count of Anjou, tried to control the region. His attempt provoked a response from William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy (the future Conqueror), who besieged and took the castle, confiscated de facto from Bellème. The surrounding region, the Passais, was annexed to Normandy, and so was the last part of the Duchy to become Norman. On the religious level, it continued until the Revolution to be a part of the diocese of Le Mans.


In 1087, on the death of the Conqueror, Robert II of Bellème drove out the ducal garrison and took back the castle. Ordéric Vital, a partial chronicler, describes him as a tyrant. It appears that the population of Domfront revolted against him in 1092, and delivered themselves to Henry, the third son of William the Conqueror, who had not received any lands after the death of his father. This was the origin of the fortune of Domfront in the twelfth century and beyond, because a little later, in 1100, on the death of his brother William Rufus, Henry became king of England, and then Duke of Normandy after winning the battle of Tinchebray (not far from Domfront) against his other brother Robert Curthose. In this way he rebuilt his father's domain. From then on, the lord of Domfront was none other than the duke-king. Rich and powerful, he completely remodelled the castle, extended its compound, and probably around 1120 caused the enormous keep to be built, remains of which still exist. This was also a period of prosperity for the abbey of Lonlay, which rebuilt its abbey church (the transept with its important series of capitals still exists from that time), and its priory churches, Saint-Michel of Goult and above all in Domfront Saint-Symphorien, situated within the castle compound and Notre-Dame-sur-l'Eau, below the cliff.