Cognac (city)

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Coat of arms of cognac
Cognac (France)
region Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Department Charente
Arrondissement Cognac ( sub-prefecture )
Canton Cognac-1
Community association Grand Cognac
Coordinates 45 ° 42 ′  N , 0 ° 20 ′  W Coordinates: 45 ° 42 ′  N , 0 ° 20 ′  W
height 5-53 m
surface 15.50 km 2
Residents 18,825 (January 1, 2017)
Population density 1,215 inhabitants / km 2
Post Code 16100
INSEE code

Cognac - Porte Saint-Jacques on the Charente bank; on the right in the background the steeple of Saint-Léger

Cognac ( French [ ˈkɔnjak ] / [ kɔɲak ]) is a French city with 18,825 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2017) in the Charente department with the seat of a sub-prefecture ( sous-préfeture ). Place names such as Commiaco (around 1075), Conniaco (around 1080) or Compniacum (around 1270) have been handed down from medieval times . In the city and the surrounding wine-growing region of is white wines gained Brandy Cognac (protected designation of origin produced), the region is internationally known for.


The city of Cognac lies within a bend in the Charente river at an average altitude of 23  m about 120 kilometers north of Bordeaux ; in the former border area between the Saintonge and the Angoumois . Important cities in the area are Saintes (around 30 kilometers west) and Angoulême (45 kilometers east).

Population development

At the first census in France in 1793, Cognac had 2,846 inhabitants, in the mid-19th century there were around 5,000 and at the beginning of the 20th century the population was around 20,000. The city's population has been steadily declining over the past few decades, which can largely be explained by the migration to cheaper residential areas in the area.

year 1968 1975 1982 1990 1999 2006 2016
Residents 22,062 22,237 20,660 19,528 19,525 19,409 18,702


Henri Germain: Barges on the Charente (around 1880)

In the Middle Ages, Cognac was the trade and craft center of the surrounding villages. Wine has been grown in the area since Roman and Gallo-Roman times, which was shipped down Charente on barges ( gabares ) in the late Middle Ages and exported via the port of Rochefort mainly to the British Isles and Scandinavia. It was not until the early 17th century - allegedly because of its better shelf life - that the wine was distilled (→ Cognac (brandy) ) and shipped all over the world (England, Ireland, Scandinavia, North America, Antilles etc.). Some of the local traditional production and storage facilities ( chais ) (e.g. Martell (1715), Rémy Martin (1724), Hennessy (1765), Otard (1795), Courvoisier (1835) and Camus (1863)) can - usually for a fee - can be viewed; there are also a large number of smaller cognac companies. At the end of the 19th century the region around Cognac was also affected by the phylloxera crisis, but the high stocks and rising prices made it possible for most of the cognac producers to survive.

In addition, the red and white aperitif wine produced here , the Pineau des Charentes , is important for France. Due to the sales crisis of the increasingly expensive cognac, the production of wines ( vins de pays Charentais ) has been boosted since the 1970s . Many jobs are also in the supply industry, especially in the producers of stills ( alambiques ), glass bottles, barrels, cardboard boxes, corks and capsules, as well as printing shops.


Traces of human presence (stone tools) in the area of ​​Cognac can already be found from the Paleolithic (Paleolithic); The Dolmen of Séchebec in the Rue de l'Échassier in the east of Cognac dates from the Neolithic Age . In Roman times the place was near the Via Agrippa , which connected Bordeaux ( Burtigala ) with Saintes ( Mediolanum ) and Clermont ( Augustonemetum ). The place Condate , which appears in the Peutinger tablets , is possibly connected with Cognac.

Already in the 10th century there was a castle ( castrum ) and in 1031 Benedictine monks from Ébreuil founded a priory, which later became the priory church of Saint-Léger . In 1215, Cognac was granted town charter; About 100 years later (1308) Guy de Lusignan or his successor ceded the city to the French King Philip the Beautiful . In the beginning of the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) between England and France, the city changed landlords several times before it finally became French in 1375 (or 1448). At the end of the 14th century, Charles VI transferred. the city to his ambitious younger brother, Louis of Orléans . The latter, however, was murdered on the street by the assassins of the Burgundian Duke Johann Ohnefurcht in 1407 , so that Cognac fell to his son Karl von Orléans , who, however, was captured by the English in 1415, from which he was only released in 1440 - against payment of an enormous ransom has been. On his return, he donated the rose window to the Saint-Léger church and began building the new castle in Cognac. In 1488 his son Charles de Valois-Orléans, Count of Angoulême , married Luise of Savoy ; Their marriage resulted in the daughter Margaret of Navarra (* 1492), the future Queen of Navarre and grandmother of Henry IV , and the son François, who was born on September 12, 1494 in the Château de Cognac and after the death of childless Ludwig XII. (1515) in legal succession when Francis I became King of France.

In the early days of the Huguenot Wars (1562–1598), the city and especially the Saint-Léger church suffered severe devastation, as can be seen from some bullet marks on the outside walls of the church. In the Peace of Saint-Germain (1570) , the French King Charles IX. Protestants use the cities of La Rochelle , Cognac, Montauban and La Charité-sur-Loire as 'security posts' for a period of two years . But with the massacres of Bartholomew's Night in Paris (23/24 August 1572), the old conflicts flared up again in the province.

In the uprising of the Fronde (mid-17th century), cognac remained loyal to the king, which is why the city was rewarded by Louis XIV with a 20-year tax exemption and the right to hold four three-day business fairs. The French Revolution put an end to the power and lavish wealth of the nobility and the Church.


City garden with town hall

Castle of Cognac

Saint-Léger church


  • The Porte Saint-Jacques on the banks of the Charente dates back to the late 15th century and is the only remaining part of the medieval city fortifications ( remparts ). Behind it begins the Grande Rue , which leads to the main attractions of the old town.
  • The Maison de la Lieutenance , a pretty half-timbered house ( maison à colombages ) from the 16th century, stands in the middle of the old town.
  • The Hôtel de Rabayne has a salamander relief , the heraldic animal Franz I, above the basket arch of the portal of the courtyard entrance.
  • The former Couvent des Récollets was dissolved in the French Revolution . The former cloister with beautiful vaults and a disused fountain is well worth seeing.
Georges Mareste: Summer Day on the Place de la Corderie (1904)
  • The Musée d'Art et d'Histoire (MAH) is a city history museum in the Hôtel Dupuy d'Angeac in the city garden ( jardin public ). The exhibition spectrum ranges from prehistoric exhibits ( dugout canoe from the Gué de Beaulieu ) to finds from Gallo-Roman and Merovingian times. There is also a ceramics department ( Faïences de Charente ), a fine arts section and a folklore department.
  • The city ​​garden ( jardin public ) was designed by Édouard François André as an English landscape garden with artificial grottos, kiosks and turrets. A storm caused severe damage towards the end of December 1999 - 288 of 720 trees fell.
  • The Musée des arts du cognac (MACO) is entirely dedicated to the history and environment of cognac production; it was inaugurated in 2004.
  • The extensive grounds of Parc François I were the former palace gardens; it is in the north of the city. A hunting area followed further north.
  • The Dolmen of Séchebec is in a housing estate east of the city center. It is thought to be around 4500 to 5000 years old.
  • The Romanesque Église Saint-Martin from the 12th century is located in the district of the same name south of the city center. The remains of a cemetery from the Merovingian and Carolingian times were found in the vicinity . A wash house ( lavoir ) from the 19th century is in the immediate vicinity.

See also

Regular events

  • Festival Blues Passions de Cognac - every year, in the last week of July, the blues festival takes place.
  • Coup de chauffe - the street art festival is always celebrated on the first weekend in September.
  • Fête du cognac - the 'Festival of Cognac' takes place in July.
  • Salon de la Littérature Européenne de Cognac - European literary meeting

Town twinning


See also


  • Frédéric Chasseboeuf: Châteaux en Poitou-Charentes, patrimoines et médias, In: Belles visites . Patrimoines médias, Prahecq 2006, ISBN 2-910137-91-0 .
  • Christian Gensbeitel, Marylise Ortiz, Bruno Barbier (photos): Lovable Charente-Maritime. Morstadt, Kehl 2007, ISBN 3-88571-324-1 .
  • Thorsten Droste : Poitou. Western France between Poitiers and Angoulême - the Atlantic coast from the Loire to the Gironde. DuMont, Cologne 1999, p. 229ff, ISBN 3-7701-4456-2 .
  • Loire Valley, Poitou-Charente, Limousin RV Euro regional map 1: 300 000. Ostfildern 2000, ISBN 3-575-11244-4 .
  • Poitou-Charentes, cognac: La Rochelle, Angoulême ; City overviews, sights, place index: Poitou-Charentes, Cognac. In: Regional map France 1: 180000 No. 4 Kümmerly and Frey, [Urtenen-Schönbühl] [2005], ISBN 3-259-01364-4 .

Web links

Commons : Cognac  - collection of images, videos and audio files