Caen is a port town in north-western France, on the Atlantic Ocean. When the Vikings invaded France in the 700s AD, eventually they forced the French king to give them the area around Caen (KAHN) to live in. There they got to be known as the Normans, and people called the area Normandy.
The Normans soon converted from worshipping their old gods to Christianity, and soon they built churches. The Normans built their first churches out of wood, which was easier to build in, and cheaper, but wooden churches often caught fire. Around 1000 AD the Normans began to build stone churches in the Romanesque style.
William the Conqueror ordered his architects to build this church about 1050 AD in his capital at Caen (click here to find out why). It was part of an abbey dedicated to Saint Stephen – a place for Benedictine monks to live and pray.