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town, Charente departement, Poitou-Charentes region, western France. It lies 20 miles (30 km) west-northwest of Angouleme. The town gives its name to the brandy distilled there and exported all over the world. The distilling of cognac is its main industry and provides the impetus for the manufacture of casks and bottles, packaging materials, and printing works. Cognac was the birthplace of King Francis I (reigned 1515-47). Its possession was contested during the Wars of Religion. An air force pilot's school is located there. Pop. (1999) city, 19,534; urban area, 44,051.