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COGNAC, a town of south-western France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Charente, on the left bank of the;river Charente, 32 m. W. of Angouleme on the Ouest-Etat railway, between Angouleme and Saintes. Pop. (1906) 18,389. The streets of the old town - which borders the river - are narrow and tortuous, but the newer parts are well provided with open spaces. The chief of these is the beautiful Parc Francois I er overlooking the Charente. In one of the squares there is a statue of Francis I., who was born here. The chief building is a church of the 12th century dedicated to St Leger, which preserves a fine Romanesque facade and a tower of the 15th century. A castle of the 15th and 16th centuries, once the residence of the counts of Angouleme, now a storehouse for brandy, and a medieval gate stand in the older part of the town. Cognac is the seat of a subprefect and has tribunals of first instance and of commerce, a council of trade arbitrators, a chamber of commerce, and consulates of the United States, Spain and Portugal. Its most important industry is the distillation of the brandy (q.v.) to which the town gives its name. Large quantities are carried, by way of the river, to the neighbouring port of Tonnay-Charente. The industries subsidiary to the brandy trade, such as the making of cases and bottles, occupy many hands. Ironware is also manufactured, and a considerable trade is maintained in grain and cattle. In 1526 Cognac gave its name to a treaty concluded against Charles V. by Francis I., the pope, Venice and Milan. Its possession was contested during the wars of religion, and in 1570 it became one of the Huguenot strongholds. In 1651 it successfully sustained a siege against Louis II., prince of Conde, leader of the Fronde.
See Le Pays du Cognac, by L. Ravaz, for a description of the district and its viticulture.
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