One of Belgium's oldest cities, Tournai was the fortified capital of a Roman province and in the 5th cent. became a seat of the Merovingian kings of Austrasia. The city was destroyed by the Normans in 881. It belonged to France from 1187 to 1521, when Emperor Charles V captured it and attached it to the Spanish (from 1714, Austrian) Netherlands. Tournai joined in the rebellion of the Spanish Netherlands and was a Calvinist stronghold until its capture (1581) by Alessandro Farnese. It was taken several times by the French in the wars of the 17th–18th cent.
Tournai has been a cultural center since the 12th cent. Of note are the Cathedral of Notre Dame (11th–12th cent.), with many art treasures; a 15th-century tower named for Henry VIII of England (who took the city in 1513 and made Cardinal Wolsey bishop of Tournai); the clothworkers hall (17th cent.); and a well-known art museum.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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