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Trip Planner Europe  /  France  /  Normandy  /  Basse-Normandie  /  Orne  /  Alencon
(4.4/5 based on 100+ reviews for 5 attractions)
Things to do: museums, sightseeing, nightlife
Alençon is a commune in Normandy, France, capital of the Orne department. It is situated 173km west of Paris. Alençon belongs to the intercommunality of Alençon (with 52,000 people).HistoryThe city of Alençon was probably founded in the fourth century by Alan soldiers. The name is first seen in a document dated in the seventh century. During the tenth century, Alençon was a buffer state between Normandy and the Maine regions. In 1049-1051, William Duke of Normandy, later known as William the Conqueror and king of England, laid siege to the town, which had risen in support of the Count of Anjou along with two other towns of the Bellême estates, Domfront (then in Maine) and Bellême (held directly from King Henry I of France). According to Duke William's chaplain and panegyrist, William of Poitiers, the citizens insulted William by hanging animal skins from the walls, in reference to his ancestry as the illegitimate son of Duke Robert and a tanner's daughter. On capturing the town, William had a number of the citizens' hands and feet cut off in revenge. Alençon was occupied by the English during the Anglo-Norman wars of 1113 to 1203.The city became the seat of a dukedom in 1415, belonging to the sons of the King of France until the French Revolution, and some of them played important roles in French history: see Duke of Alençon. The French Revolution caused relatively little disorder in this area although there were some royalist uprisings nearby.
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