History of the region
Quercy was part of Aquitania prima under the Romans, and Christianity was introduced during the 4th century. Early in the 6th century the area fell under the authority of the Franks, and in the 7th century became part of the autonomous Duchy of Aquitaine. At the end of the 10th century its rulers were the powerful counts of Toulouse. During the hostilities between England and France in the reign of Henry II of England, the English placed garrisons in the county, and by the 1259 Treaty of Paris lower Quercy came under the control of England. The kings of both England and France around this time tried to curry favour by adding to the privileges of the towns and the district. In 1360, the Treaty of Brétigny was signed and the whole of Quercy passed to England. However, in the 1440s the English were finally expelled by the newly created army of Charles VII of France. In the 16th century Quercy was a stronghold of the Protestants, and the scene of fierce religious conflicts. The civil wars of the reign of Louis XIII largely took place around Montauban.
After Napoleon's defeat in 1815, the monarchy was re-established in France, but the discredited Bourbon Dynasty was overthrown in the July Revolution of 1830, which established the constitutional July Monarchy, which lasted until 1848. During this time the divide between the rich and poor increased; in Montauban, hundreds turned to begging as wages fell, factories closed and food prices rose; rioting was widespread and the home of the mayor was stoned by building workers in 1847.
History of the department
Before the department's formation in the nineteenth century, the northern half formed part of the old province of Quercy and the southern half, part of Languedoc. The department was created on 4 November 1808 during the First French Empire by a decision of Napoleon. The emperor had been invited to visit the town of Montauban, an important industrial and commercial centre at the time, whose populace thought the town was central enough and sufficiently important to be the capital of a new department. He was impressed by their loyalty and granted their request.
The department was formed out of territories that had previously been part of neighbouring areas. More than half of the territory was taken from the Department of Lot (including Montauban and Moissac), over one-third was taken from Haute-Garonne (including Castelsarrasin), and the rest from the departments of Lot-et-Garonne, Gers, and Aveyron. The first Prefect was
Félix Le Peletier d'Aunay, who was installed in his post on 31 December 1808.