Kingdom of Kent

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The Anglo-Saxon kingdoms at the beginning of the 9th century

The Kingdom of Kent ( Old English Cantaware Rīce ) was one of the seven traditional kingdoms from the time of the Anglo-Saxon heptarchy in England .


The Kingdom of Kent corresponded roughly to the present-day County of Kent , but also included the eastern parts of Surrey and probably parts of Sussex for a time . In the Tribal Hidage , its size was given as 15,000 hides . It was the third largest Anglo-Saxon empire of its time. It bordered the neighboring kingdoms of Essex , Sussex, and Wessex . The name comes from the Celtic tribe of the Cantiaci , who lived in the region with the capital Canterbury in Roman times .


Kent in Anglo-Saxon times

Early phase

Archaeological finds from the late 4th century indicate Germanic settlers who probably came to the country as Roman federates or mercenaries. The settlers were called Jutes by Beda Venerabilis , but some came from other tribes.

According to the founding legend, the brothers Hengest and Horsa are said to have been recruited by King Vortigern and Kent received as pay. According to another legend, Hengest von Vortigern received Kent as the bride price for his daughter Rovena. Both cases make a contractually regulated transfer of power to the new settlers appear more likely than a violent invasion. The continued existence of Romano-British structures can only be assumed. Unusual in Anglo-Saxon England was the self-designation Cantwari ("Kent men") with which a Celtic tribal name was adopted by the newcomers. Even in later times Kent gave way to z. B. in inheritance law and land surveying from the usual Anglo-Saxon customs, which indicates Romano-British cultural influence.


coin of King Eadbald (616–640)

Kent was on the trade route between London and the continent. As early as the 6th century, trade in the form of taxes and tariffs contributed significantly to Kent's prosperity. Grave goods found in Kent bear great resemblance to Frankish objects, which indicates a strong cultural influence. The kingdom gained great importance under King Æthelberht I (560 or around 585–616), who was married to Bertha , a Merovingian princess. He received St. Augustine of Canterbury, was a great curator and defender of Christianity, and founded bishoprics in Canterbury , Rochester and the East Anglian diocese of London . The establishment of two bishoprics in Kent points to the merger of two original kingdoms, whose inhabitants around 600 were still perceived as belonging to different gentes (tribes). Æthelberht I. was considered the 3rd English Bretwalda ("Great King").


Kent's decline began with civil war in 685. Usurpers and foreign rulers from Wessex and Essex ruled for almost a decade until Wihtred (690–725) around 692/694 the old dynasty came back to power. After his death, Kent was divided among his three sons in 725, but Ealric soon disappeared from history, while Æthelberht II. Established himself as the upper king in the richer East Kent and Eadberht I in West Kent. West Kent was probably dependent on Æthelbald (716–757) of Mercia . After the death of Æthelberht II. In 762 the situation of Kent became unstable: The kings changed in quick succession, some were patronized by Mercia. From 764, Offa seems to have controlled Kent from Mercien . In 776 there was a battle between Offa and Ecgberht II (764-784?) At Otford in the Kent apparently independent again. In 785 Offa drove out or killed the local rulers and ruled Kent himself until his death in 796. One of Eadberht III. Præn (796–798), a former priest who probably came from the Oiscinga dynasty, led revolt was bloodily suppressed in 798 by Cenwulf of Mercia. Cenwulf set his brother Cuthred (798-807) as king over Kent and after his death in 807 he himself took over the rule, which he exercised by means of decrees from afar. With Cenwulf's death in 821, Mercia's supremacy expired. In 825 Mercia was defeated by Egbert von Wessex at Ellandun . Baldred (821– around 825), the last Kentish king, was driven out. After this victory, Kent, Surrey , Sussex and Essex surrendered to the rule of Wessex. From 825 Kent was ruled by the kings of Wessex.

Kent was initially a sub-kingdom of Wessex, but became the Shire under King Alfred the Great (871-899) . Today Kent is a county of Great Britain.

Kings of kent

The Kentish kings belonged from the beginning to the year 764 to the dynasty of the Oiscingas , named after the king Oeric (Oisc).

East Kent (Canterbury) or sole ruler West Kent (Rochester)
Hengest , 455–488 and Horsa , († 455)
Oeric , (Oisc), 488-512
Ohta , 512– around 522/539
Eormenric , 512/522/539? -560/585
Æthelberht I. , 560 or around 585–616 ( Bretwalda ) Eadbald , 604-616 / 618
Eadbald , 616 / 618-640 Æthelwald, 616 / 618–?
Earconberht I. , 640-664 Eormenred , before 640– between 640 and 664
Ecgberht I. , 664-673 Ecgberht I. , 664-673
Hlothhere , 673 / 674-685 Wulfhere 673-674 (unsure)
Eadric , 685-686 (usurper) Eadric , 679-686
Mul , 686-687 (Wessex) Sighere 686-687 (Essex)
Oswine , 688-690 / 691 Swæfheard (Swaberht) 687 / 688-692 / 694 (Essex)
Wihtred , 690 / 691–725 (up to 692/694 together with Swæfheard ) Wihtred , 692 / 694-725
Æthelberht II. , Oberkönig 725–762 Eadberht I. , 725-748
Ealric , 725-725? Eardwulf , 748? - before 762
Eadberht II. , 762 – around 764 Sigered , before 762-764 (from Essex?)
Eanmund around 764–765? (unknown origin) Ecgberht II. , 764-around 778, sole king around 778-after 779
Heahberht , around 765–?
Ecgberht II. , King in West Kent since 764, sole king around 778–779 / 784
Ealhmund , 779 / 784-784 / 785
Offa of Mercien 785-796 (Mercia)
Eadberht III. Præn 796-798
Cuthred , 798–807 (brother of King Cenwulf of Mercia)
Cenwulf , 807-821 (Mercia)
Baldred , around 821 - around 825 (Mercia)

From 825 Kent was ruled by the kings of Wessex .


Web links

Commons : Kingdom of Kent  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g S. E. Kelly: Kent, Kingdom of . In: Lapidge et al. (Ed.): The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England , Wiley-Blackwell, 2001, ISBN 978-0-631-22492-1 , pp. 269-270.
  2. Jump up ↑ DP Kirby: The Earliest English Kings , Routledge, 2000, ISBN 978-0-415-24211-0 , p. 1.
  3. The Tribal Hidage on the Georgetown University website
  4. ^ Nicholas Brooks: Anglo-Saxon Myths: State and Church, 400-1066 , Hambledon & London, 1998, ISBN 978-1-85285-154-5 , pp. 52-53.
  5. Simon Keynes: Kings of Kent . In: Lapidge et al. (Ed.): The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England , Wiley-Blackwell, 2001, ISBN 978-0-631-22492-1 , pp. 501-502.
  6. The list follows, unless otherwise stated, Simon Keynes: Kings of Kent ; In: The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England , pp. 501-502
  7. a b Kings of Kent in Foundation for Medieval Genealogy; Simon Keynes: Kings of Kent . In: The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England , pp. 501-502, mentions that a king could be missing between Oeric-Eormenric-thelberht.
  8. ^ John Morby: Dynasties of the World: a chronological and genealogical Handbook , Oxford University Press, Oxford 1989, ISBN 978-0-19-860473-0 , p. 64.
  9. Barbara Yorke: Kings and Kingdoms of early Anglo-Saxon England , Routledge, 2002, ISBN 978-0-415-16639-3 , p. 49.
  10. BAE Yorke: The Kingdom of Essex , In: Lapidge et al. (Ed.): The Blackwell Enzyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England , pp. 174-175.
  11. J. Insley: Oiscingas . In: Heinrich Beck , Dieter Geuenich , Heiko Steuer (Eds.): Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde Volume 22, de Gruyter, 2002, ISBN 978-3-11-017351-2 , pp. 33-38.