Montargis is a commune of the Loiret département in France. The town is located about 110 km south of Paris and 70km east of Orléans at the heart of a region known as the Gâtinais.
Montargis is the second largest city in the Loiret, after Orléans. It is near a large forest, and contains light industry and farming, including saffron. Due to its numerous canals and bridges, Montargis sometimes bills itself as the "Venice of the Gâtinais." Though quite modern, it retains a medieval charm in its downtown area.
Etymology and history
The town is said to be the place where the jealous goddess Juno
with guarding her rival. Under this account, the name "Montargis" is supposed to derive from the Latin mons argi.
Alternatively, Julius Caesar
, in his Gallic Wars
, mentions a chieftain named Moritas who gave his name to a town in the region. At any rate, the town is known to date to ancient times. Numerous Gallo-Roman
artifacts have been found in the area, and many are in the town's Gâtinais Museum.
Later, the town was a stronghold of the Frankish king Clovis I.
Montargis was originally part of the house of Courtenay, who fortified a château on a hill overlooking the town. The town was ceded to the king of France in 1188. In the 14th and 15th centuries, it was a royal residence.
Hundred Years' War
In 1427, during the Hundred Years' War
, the Earl of Warwick
besieged the town with artillery
, beginning bombardment on July 15. During the siege, the residents of Montargis sabotaged the dikes of numerous ponds in the district, flooding and drowning many of the besieging English. On September 5, a French force of 1600 men broke the siege, led by Jean de Dunois
and La Hire
, commanders who would go on to lead the army of Joan of Arc
. This marked the first important victory by the army of King Charles VII
in the war, gratefully remembered by Charles later.
After being wounded in an unsuccessful attempt to besiege Paris in September 1429, Joan of Arc passed through Montargis on her way to Gien.
After the war, Charles VII, rewarded the town for its valor in the war by granting it various privileges. In 1490, his later successor Charles VIII officially declared the town Montargis Le Franc ("Montargis the tax-free"). This title is abbreviated as "MLF" in the official coat of arms (seen in the seal shown here). This privilege was renewed by his successors, and Montargis remained free of taxes for three centuries, until it was revoked during the French Revolution.
In 1528, King Francis I
granted the town to his sister-in-law, Renée of France
, Duchess of Ferrara
and daughter of King Louis XII
. After her husband Ercole II, the Duke of Ferrara
died in 1559, Renée resided at Montargis. She sheltered there Protestant Huguenots
fleeing from persecutions in Paris and elsewhere during the 16th century French Wars of Religion
Dog of Montargis
The most well known legend of Montargis is that of the "Dog of Montargis." In the story, Aubry de Montdidier, a courtier of King Charles V of France
, was murdered around 1400 in a forest near Montargis by Richard Macaire, an envious knight. After his death, Mondidier's dog showed a remarkable hostility to Macaire. King Charles decreed a trial by combat
in the town between the dog and Macaire, who was armed with only a cudgel
. After the dog won the battle, Macaire confessed to the crime and was hanged. A dramatic statue of this fight is in front of the Girodet Museum
in central Montargis.
In the 1880s, a rubber
factory was built in Châlette, a district of Montargis. It today employs 2000 workers to produce tires and parts for vehicles and appliances.
, the crunchy confection
made from almonds
in cooked sugar, were first confected in Montargis in the time of Louis XIII
. They were originally sold from a shop that still is in business.
Montargis is twinned with: