Norman castles have a strong beginning
in France, starting from simple donjons-or towers. Early donjons
had a simple, heavy design and early examples of these can
be found at Montrichaud, Loches, Samur, and Beauagency. As
a rule, each of these towers kept a basic rectangular shape.
The strong keep housed all the rooms for the lord and his
family, as well as ceremonial rooms, chapels, garderobes,
fireplaces, state rooms and arsenals. Only trusted vassals
and bondsmen were allowed to enter the donjon.
William the Conqueror, who invaded and
took England in the 11th century, had his castle at Caen in
Normandy. His influence on castle building in Europe is undeniable.
Massive medieval fortifications dot the French landscape.
An ancient medieval walled city can be viewed at Caracssonne,
one of the few of such cities to survive in its original form.
During the later Middle Ages, French castles
began the transformation from formidable, protective strong
hold, to elegant, sophisticated chateau. Allies of French
kings and other aristocracy claimed fortresses and transformed
them into mini palaces.