Quercy (French pronunciation: [kɛʁsi] ( ); Occitan: Carcin, pronounced [kaɾˈsi], locally [kɔɾˈʃi]) is a former province of France located in the country's southwest, bounded on the north by Limousin, on the west by Périgord and Agenais, on the south by Gascony and Languedoc, and on the east by Rouergue and Auvergne.
Formerly Quercy included the Bouriane, natural region. Today it is divided between the département of Lot (which it makes up in its entirety) and the northern half of the département of Tarn-et-Garonne. The traditional capital of Quercy is Cahors, now préfecture (capital) of the Lot département. The largest town of Quercy is Montauban, préfecture of Tarn-et-Garonne. However, Montauban lies at the traditional border between Quercy and Languedoc, in an area very different from the rest of Quercy, and it is closer historically and culturally to Toulouse and the rest of Languedoc, therefore it should be considered a special case, not totally part of Quercy. Also distinct from the rest of the region is the Quercy Blanc lying between Cahors and the southern boundary of the Lot, characterised by its white limestone buildings.
Quercy has a land area of 6,987 km² (2,698 sq. miles). At the 1999 census there were 275,984 inhabitants on the territory of the former province of Quercy, which means a density of 40 inh. per km² (102 inh. per sq. mile). However, if Montauban is not included inside Quercy, then the total population of Quercy in 1999 was 224,129 inhabitants, and the density was only 33 inh. per km² (85 inh. per sq. mile). The largest urban areas in Quercy are Montauban, with 51,855 inhabitants in 1999, Cahors, with 23,128 inhabitants in 1999, Moissac, with 12,321 inhabitants in 1999, and Figeac, with 9,991 inhabitants in 1999.
The province gave its name to cadurcum, a variety of light linen.
Under the Romans Quercy was part of Aquitania prima, and Christianity was introduced during the 4th century. Early in the 6th century it 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 wars between England and France in the reign of Henry II, the English placed garrisons in the county, and by the 1259 Treaty of Paris lower Quercy was ceded to England. The monarchs of both England and France confirmed and added to the privileges of the towns and the district, each thus hoping to attach the inhabitants to his own interest. In 1360, by the Treaty of Bretigny, the whole county passed to England, but in 1440 the English were finally expelled. In the 16th century Quercy was a stronghold of the Protestants, and the scene of a savage religious warfare. The civil wars of the reign of Louis XIII largely took place around Montauban.
Famous personalities from Quercy
- John XXII, pope (1316–1332)
- Jean Le Parisot de La Valette (1494–1568), Grand Master of the Order of Malta
- Clément Marot, poet (1496–1544)
- Olivier de Magny, poet (1529–1561)
- Etienne Henri d'Escayrac Lauture (1747–1791), Counter Revolutionary
- Olympe de Gouges (1748-1793), playwright, abolitionist, and feminist activist, author of the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen
- Jean Bon Saint-André (1749–1813), Revolutionary
- Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780-1867), Neoclassicist painter
- André Étienne d'Audebert de Férussac (1786–1836), naturalist
- Évariste Régis Huc (1813–1860), missionary Catholic priest and traveler, famous for his accounts of China, Tartary and Tibet
- Stanislas d'Escayrac Lauture (1822–1868), explorer
- Léon Cladel (1834–1892), local writer of rustic stories about Quercy
- Léon Gambetta (1838–1882), politician
- Émile Pouvillon (1840-1906), another writer of rustic stories about Quercy
- Antoine Bourdelle (1861–1929), sculptor
- Philippe Gaubert (1879–1941), conductor and composer
- Fabien Galthié (born in 1969), rugby player
- Christian Signol, writer
- Francis Maratuech, writer and poet
- Alfred Roques, rugby player
- Quercy.net (French)
- Qu'est-ce que le Quercy ? (French)
- Atlas historique du Quercy (French)
- Portail régional du Quercy (French)
- Le portail du tourisme en Quercy (French)
- La Maison du Patrimoine et de l’Environnement Midi-Quercy (French)