Montauban (Montalban in Occitan) is a town of southwestern France, préfecture (capital) of the département of Tarn-et-Garonne, 31 miles north of Toulouse.
- 1906: town, 16,813; commune, 28,688
- 1999: 51,800
Its fortifications have been replaced by boulevards beyond which extend numerous suburbs, while on the left bank of the Tarn is the suburb of Villebourbon, which is connected with the town by a remarkable bridge of the early 14th century. It is a brick structure over 200 yards in length, but while its fortified towers have disappeared, it is otherwise in good preservation. The Hotel de Ville, on the site of a castle of the Counts of Toulouse and once the residence of the bishops of Montauban, stands at the east end of the bridge. It belongs chiefly to the 17th century, but some portions are much older, notably an underground chamber known as the Hall of the Black Prince. Besides the municipal offices it contains a valuable library, and a museum with collections of antiquities and pictures. The latter comprise most of the work (including his "Jesus among the Doctors") of Jean Ingres, the celebrated painter, whose birth in Montauban is commemorated by an elaborate monument.
The Place Nationale is a square of the 17th century, entered at each corner by gateways giving access to a large open space surrounded by houses carried on double rows of arcades. The prefecture, the law-courts and the remaining public buildings are modern. The chief churches of Montauban are the cathedral, remarkable only for the possession of the "Vow of Louis XIII." one of the masterpieces of Ingres, and the church of St Jacques (14th and 15th centuries), the façade of which is surmounted by a handsome octagonal tower. Montauban is the seat of a bishop and a court of assize. It has tribunals of first instance and of commerce, a chamber of commerce and a board of trade arbitration, lycées and a training college, schools of commerce and viticulture, a branch of the Bank of France, and a faculty of Protestant theology.
The commercial importance of Montauban is due rather to its trade in agricultural produce, horses, game and poultry, than to its industries, which include nursery-gardening, cloth-weaving, cloth-dressing, flour-milling, wood-sawing, and the manufacture of furniture, silk-gauze and straw hats. The town is a railways junction, and communicates with the Garonne by the Canal of Montech.
With the exception of Mont-de-Marsan, Montauban is the oldest of the bastides of southern France. Its foundation dates from 1144 when Alphonse Jourdain, count of Toulouse, granted it a liberal charter. The inhabitants were drawn chiefly from Montauriol, a village which had grown up around the neighbouring monastery of St Théodard. In the 13th century the town suffered much from the ravages of the Albigensians and from the Inquisition, but by 1317 it had recovered sufficiently to be chosen by John XXII as the head of a diocese of which the basilica of St Théodard became the cathedral. In 1360, at the Treaty of Brétigny, it was ceded to the English; they were expelled by the inhabitants in 1414. In 1560 the bishops and magistrates embraced Protestantism, expelled the monks, and demolished the cathedral. About ten years later it became one of the Huguenot strongholds, and formed a small independent republic. It was the headquarters of the Huguenot rebellion of 1621, and was vainly besieged by Louis XIII for eighty-six days; nor did it submit until after the fall of La Rochelle in 1629, when its fortifications were destroyed by Cardinal Richelieu. In the same year over six thousands inhabitants died of the plague. The Protestants again suffered persecution after the repeal of the Edict of Nantes.
Montauban is the birthplace of:
- Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, (1790-1867), painter
- Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929), sculptor & teacher
Initial text from an encyclopedia published in 1911. Please update as needed.