Hesdin was a fief of the counts of Artois, vassals of the Counts of Flanders until 1180. When Philip, count of Flanders gave Artois as dowry to his niece Isabella of Hainault when she married Philip Augustus of France in 1180, Hesdin and the other seigneuries passed to France. Though subsequently the territory passed to the Dukes of Burgundy, Hesdin remained one of a handful of French strongholds, until in 1553 Emperor Charles V ordered the utter destruction of the old fortified town on a rise of ground and built the present town the following year, some from the original site, on the banks of the Canche.
In 1639 the French laid siege to Hesdin and under Louis XIII, it was recaptured for France. Thus, though Hesdin has an ancient name and 16th century structures, there is nothing left of the medieval town.
The most recent and resourceful book on the history of Hesdin is Promenades dans Hesdin by Regis Deparis (2004)
In 2014 Hesdin elected a 22 year old law student, Stéphane Sieczkowski-Samier, as Mayor. Sieczkowski-Samier became the youngest mayor in France and is nicknamed "Petit Sarko" (little Sarkozy) in the French press as a reference to the previous French President Nicolas Sarkozy who is from the same political party.