Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer


 (not known)

Main Article

Tournai capitulated to Henry VIII on 23 Sept. 1513 after a short siege. Before departing the King named as governor Sir Edward Poynings, who with a council modelled on that for Calais was to rule the city in conjunction with the existing civic government for a year and a half: Poynings was succeeded by the 4th Lord Mountjoy, and Mountjoy in 1517 by Sir Richard Jerningham. There were four civic councils. Thirty éwardiers chosen by the property holders formed a council which in February each year elected two other councils, one made up of two prévôts and 18 jurés and the other of two maieurs and 12 échevins. The 36 guilds elected two officers each to a council which dealt primarily with guild matters but which joined with the others when major decisions had to be taken. A subject was discussed in each council, and then the four met and voted by council. Some civic records of the town survive.2

On his return to England the King tried to assure the city about its future by promising representation in the Parliament which then stood prorogued: adopting the French custom, he called the Members deputies. The four councils met on 20 Dec. 1513 to choose Members but after much debate agreed only to meet again on the following day. This episode seems to imply that Tournai was empowered to furnish the customary two Members and that, unlike at Calais later, the governor and his council had no say in their return. The name of only one of the Members is known, that of Jean le Sellier, a leading figure in the city who collaborated with the governor and with Wolsey: there is no evidence that as bishop Wolsey tried to influence le Sellier’s election. No indenture survives. The Members raised several issues in the House arising from the English occupation, and the Act regulating the administration of justice at Tournai (5 Hen. VIII, c.1) was meant to remedy the most serious of them: the others were settled outside Parliament. It is not known whether the city was represented in the Parliament of 1515 when the King asked for the re-election of the previous Members, but le Sellier could hardly have been returned again as he was in the city four days after the opening of the first session. By the time of the next Parliament in 1523 Tournai had ceased to be English, having been handed over to Francis I under the marriage treaty of 1519.

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Cott. Galba D5, f. 366.
  • 2. This account rests on C. G. Cruickshank, Eng. Occupation of Tournai, 1513-19 and ‘Parlty. rep. of Tournai’, EHR, lxxxiii. 775-6.