The history of the city of Tournai goes back more than 2,000 years. During the reign of Childerik I and later Clovis, Tournai was the capital of the Frankish Empire. In 486 AD Clovis moved the governmental seat to Paris, though Tournai continued to play an important role.
Under King Charles the Bald, the first king of the western Frankish Empire, the county of Flanders was founded. In 1187 Tournai became independent from Flanders making the city directly dependent on the French king; Tournai remained French for several centuries.
In the 15th century, Tournai was a wealthy city with a great deal of economic activity. In 1513 the city was conquered by King Henry VIII of England.
In 1521 Emperor Charles V added Tournai to the Netherlands. A period of religious wars and economic decay started during which time the city became a Calvinistic stronghold, until it was conquered in 1581 by the Duke of Parma after a long siege.
During the reign of the French King Louis XIV, the city once again became part of France.
After Napoleon’s defeat, Tournai became part of the Netherlands. Finally, Tournai became part of Belgium following the country’s independence.
Today, Tournai is a very beautiful historic city and possesses two buildings which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites: The Cathedral Notre-Dame and the Belfry.