Towards the 11th century Cavriana became one of the properties of Canossa and it is in this period that the first fortification was probably built. Subsequently to the Canossa the ownership of the village passes to the free Municipality of Mantua that, to defend the boundaries from the growing power of the Municipality of Verona, grants it to the family of the Riva with defensive tasks but, in the second half of the XIII century, they are supplanted by the emergent family of the Bonacolsi, who in turn, in 1328, were replaced by the Gonzagas with the election to Imperial Vicar of Luigi Gonzaga by the Emperor Ludwig IV the Bavaro. With the increase in danger due to the neighboring Visconti, the castle is reinforced with high walls that surround the entire village, while the fortress has at that time four towers at the corners; in the second half of the 14th century clashes with the Visconti are frequent and in 1383 he moved to Cavriana Francesco I Gonzaga to escape the plague and died here in 1407.
Between 1458 and 1461 the fortress was strengthened and modified to a design by Giovanni da Padova to adapt to new war techniques and the advent of cannons, it is also surrounded by a system of ditches. In 1501 Francesco II Gonzaga, at the time military commander in the pay of the Serenissima, armed the fortress of artillery.
In the first decades of the 17th century the Rocca Castello di Cavriana appears to be the largest of the state, is then attacked and occupied with partial demolition, so that in a census of the defensive structures of 1650 the castle is decayed. In 1708 the Gonzagas fall and the Austrians are not interested in rebuilding the fortification, so much so that in 1771 they ordered the demolition.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).