Kent, kingdom of

Kent, kingdom of,

one of the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England. It was settled in the mid-5th cent. by aggressive bands of people called Jutes (see Anglo-SaxonsAnglo-Saxons,
name given to the Germanic-speaking peoples who settled in England after the decline of Roman rule there. They were first invited by the Celtic King Vortigern, who needed help fighting the Picts and Scots. The Angles (Lat.
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). Historians are in dispute over the authenticity of the traditional belief that Hengist and HorsaHengist and Horsa
, names of two brothers who, according to tradition, led the Jutish invasion of Britain and founded the kingdom of Kent. Hengist would more properly be written Hengest.
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 landed in 449 to defend the Britons against the Picts and whether Hengist and his son Aesc subsequently turned against their employer, VortigernVortigern
, 5th cent., tribal king of Britons in Wales and S England. Tradition transmitted by Bede says that Vortigern invited the Germanic leaders Hengist and Horsa to Kent to help withstand the Picts and Scots. Later he quarreled and fought with Hengist and Horsa.
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. The Jutes, at any rate, soon overcame the British inhabitants and established a kingdom that comprised essentially the same area as the modern county of KentKent,
county (1991 pop. 1,485,600), 1,525 sq mi (3,950 sq km), SE England. It lies between the Thames estuary and the Strait of Dover. The county town is Maidstone, and the county is divided into 12 administrative district: Sevenoaks, Dartford, Gravesham, Tonbridge and Malling,
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. ÆthelbertÆthelbert
, d. 616, king of Kent (560?–616). Although defeated by the West Saxons in 568, he became the strongest ruler in England S of the Humber River. His wife, Bertha, daughter of a Frankish king, was a Christian.
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 of Kent established his hegemony over England S of the Humber River, received St. Augustine of Canterbury's first mission to England in 597, and became a Christian. During the following century, Kent was periodically subjugated and divided by Wessex and Mercia and finally became a Mercian province under OffaOffa
, d. 796, king of Mercia (757–96). He succeeded Æthelbald to the throne, but it was some years before he attained the power of his predecessor. Gradually he asserted his overlordship in Kent and then Sussex, and by 774 his charters styled him rex Anglorum
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. A Kentish revolt after Offa's death in 796 was put down. Conquered by Egbert of Wessex in 825, Kent was forced to acknowledge the overlordship of WessexWessex
, one of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in England. It may have been settled as early as 495 by Saxons under Cerdic, who is reputed to have landed in Hampshire. Cerdic's grandson, Ceawlin (560–93), annexed scattered Saxon settlements in the Chiltern Hills and drove the
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 and became part of that kingdom. Although it suffered heavily from Danish raids, it remained one of the most advanced areas in pre-Norman England because of the archbishopric of Canterbury and because of its steady intercourse with the Continent. The metalwork and jewelry of Kent were distinctive and beautiful.


See J. E. A. Jolliffe, Pre-Feudal England: The Jutes (1933, repr. 1963); F. M. Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England (3d ed. 1971).

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