The religious wars (16th century) due to their extreme violence, caused the often deliberate destruction of a large part of the medieval heritage of Normandy.

After the Revolution of 1789, the religious building heritage was systematically destroyed or dispersed. An extended period of abandonment followed and added further to the damage. This situation which was common to the whole of France stemmed as much from social disorganisation (the flight of the aristocracy, and pillaging…) as from the collapse of ecclesiastical structures (the deliberate destruction of religious objects, tombs, and the burning of charter archives, etc…).

Objects of a historical nature (objets d'art, archaeological remains, documents witnessing a historical episode …) were only conserved from the 1830s in Caen under the influence of Arcisse de Caumont, the initiator of the learned societies of Normandy and the Abbot Cochet in Seine-Maritime.

Between 1830 and 1890 in almost every town, local learned societies collected, recorded and sometimes restored what had survived on the building heritage of Normandy. These collections are now critical to research even though there are sometimes very large gaps in the collections.


Collections of the Musée de Normandie
Museum of Rouen (Musée départemental des Antiquités)
Norman manuscripts in Rouen library (Bibliothèque municipale de Rouen)
The Bayeux Tapestry