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In 862 Charles the Bald, first king of Western Francia and still to become Holy Roman Emperor, would make Tournai the seat of the County of Flanders.

The municipality of Tournai consists of the former municipalities of Ere, Saint-Maur, Orcq, Esplechin, Froyennes, Froidmont, Willemeau, Ramegnies-Chin, Templeuve, Chercq, Blandain, Hertain, Lamain, Marquain, Gaurain-Ramecroix, Havinnes, Beclers, Thimougies, Barry, Maulde, Vaulx, Vezon, Kain, Melles, Quartes, Rumillies, Mont-Saint-Aubert, Mourcourt and Warchin.

Rocks from the Tournai area date from the Carboniferous Period and have been used to define the Tournaisian Age, a subdivision of the Carboniferous lasting from 359 to 345 million years ago.

Tournai stone is a dark limestone which takes a polish and was used particularly in the Romanesque period for sculpted items such as Tournai fonts.

Tournai, known as Tornacum, was a place of minor importance in Roman times, a stopping place where the Roman road from Cologne on the Rhine to Boulogne on the coast crossed the river Scheldt.