HONTARGIS, a town of central France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Loiret, 47 m. E.N.E. of Orleans by rail. Pop. (1906), 11,038. The town is traversed by the Vernisson, by numerous arms of the Loing, and by the Briare canal, which unites with the canal of Orleans a little below it. It has a church (Ste Madeleine), dating in part from the 12th century and including a fine choir of Renaissance architecture, and still preserves portions of its once magnificent castle (12th to 1sth centuries), which, previous to the erection of Fontainebleau, was a favourite residence of the royal family. A handsome modern building contains the town-hall, public library, and museum; in the courtyard is a bronze group, " The Dog of Montargis "; the town has a statue of Mirabeau, born in the neighbourhood. Montargis is the seat of a sub-prefecture, and has tribunals of first instance and of commerce and colleges for both sexes. It manufactures paper, gold chains, rubber, tar, asphalt, chemical manures, woodwork and leather. The town is an agricultural market, and its port has trade in coal, timber, sheep and farm produce.
Montargis was formerly the capital of the Gatinais. Having passed in 1188 from the Courtenay family to Philip Augustus, it long formed part of the royal domain. In 1528 Francis I. gave it as dowry to Renee d'Este, daughter of Louis XII., the famous Huguenot princess; from her it passed to her daughter Anne, and through her to the dukes of Guise; it was repurchased for the Crown in 1612. From 1626 till the Revolution the territory was the property of the house of Orleans. Montargis was several times taken or attacked by the English in the 15th century, and is particularly noted for its successful defence in 1427. Both Charles VII. and Charles VIII. held court in the town; it was the latter who set the famous Dog of Montargis to fight a duel with his master's murderer whom he had tracked and captured.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)