Saintonge săNtôNzh´ [key], region of W France, on the Bay of Biscay. It is now part of the Charente-Maritime dept. Cattle and sheep raising, dairying, and the manufacture of cognac from grapes grown along the Charente River are the major occupations; oysters are harvested along the coast. Known as the country of Santones, the region was conquered by the Romans and was occupied (419) by the Visigoths and by Clovis I (507). As a fief of Aquitaine , it became part of England (1154) following the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to Henry of Anjou (later Henry II of England). During the Wars of Religion (1562–98), Saintonge was a Protestant stronghold, especially at the city of La Rochelle . The region was incorporated (1372) into the French crown lands, and was a French province until the Revolution (1789).
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