Kent: Place in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Series click here
Men of Kent or Kentish Men?
A Man/Maid of Kent is one who was born east of the River Medway
and a Kentish Man/Maid one who was born west of the Medway.
© 2006 The British Museum
This tremissis (shilling) is the first coin bearing the name of an English king – Eadbald of Kent. The earliest Anglo-Saxon coins, copying those of the Romans or other Germanic tribes, were issued about 600. Eadbald became a Christian in the middle of his reign and the coin bears the symbol of the cross.
Kings of Kent
(& Kentish Kings)
Aesc alias Oeric Oisc 488-512
Aethelbert I 560-616
Ecgbert I 664-673
Aethelbert II 725-762
Sub-Kings under Mercian Rule
Ecgbert II 765-772
Under Direct Mercian Rule 772-776
Sub-Kings under Mercian Rule
Ecgbert II 776-785 (again)
Ealhmund 784-785 (joint)
Ecgbert II (again) 784-785
Under Direct Mercian Rule 785-796
Eadbert Praen 796-798
Under Direct Mercian Rule 807-823
Kent merged with the Kingdom of Wessex in 860
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Evidence of numerous joint Kings in Kent suggests that, from the reign of King Aethelbert I, a seperate sub-kingdom may have existed based on the Diocese of Rochester:
Sighere (of Essex) c.686-688
Swaefheard (of Essex) 688-694
Eadbert I 725-748
Eadbert II 748-762
Eardwulf 748-762 (joint)
The History of Kent ©KKC
Kent was settled well before most other parts of England and has the oldest recorded place name in the British Isles. The County's history is closely bound up in its proximity to mainland Europe. Archeological remains from prehistoric times show clear links between Kent and Northern Europe, as well as a land link.
When Julius Caesar briefly invaded Kent in 55 and 54 BC he found it the most civilised part of Britain, colonised by the Belgae from Northern France. When the Romans again invaded in 43AD, this time to settle permanently, they colonised Kent along the Portus Lamanus from Richborough, rapidly establishing important centres throughout the County, and the remains of one at Lullingstone include an early Christian chapel.
The Roman legions abandoned Britain in the early fifth century to defend their empire nearer home. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Vortigern, the British ruler in Kent invited the mercenaries Hengist and Horsa to defend his principality from outside attack. They are said to have landed at Ebbsfleet near Ramsgate in 448 or 449 AD. By the end of the fifth century theSaxon kingdom of Kent had been firmly established. Under its king, Ethelbert, (560-616), Kent became one of the most advanced Saxon kingdoms in England
It was to Kent that Pope Gregory sent his missionaries under Augustine to begin their preaching of the gospel of Christianity to the English people. Augustine and his 40 companions landed at Ebbsfleet in 597. They were well received and instead of moving on to London as they had planned, they established their first cathedral at Canterbury. Seven years later another was built at Rochester. Augustine was the first archbishop, and since then the Archbishop of Canterbury has been the senior bishop of all England.
After the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, the new king, William I made his half brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, Earl of Kent. But Odo proved corrupt and the Normans and the men of Kent turned against him. After the release of Odo from prison in 1087 the Kentish levies helped the Normans to defeat him at the battle of Rochester. They were the seed of the first English army.
Within a century the capital of the English kings had moved from Winchester to London, and Kent's proximity to the new capital, together with its prime trading position, increased its political importance. Castles were built to defend the County. The most important were at Dover, Rochester and Canterbury. Henry VIII later built the castles in the Downs at Sandgate, Walmer and Deal to protect the Kent coast. But the closeness of London also made Kent a hot bed of political radicalism. The County played an important part in the peasants' revolt of 1381, and in various subsequent rebellions right up to the English Civil Wars of the1640s when there was fighting in the streets of Maidstone, and the 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688/9 when James II fled into exile from Faversham.
Many people left Kent in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to begin new lives in America; and were joined by hundreds of Kent poor who emigrated to the United States of America in the nineteenth century.
Unlike many parts of England, Kent had no single, powerfull and owning family. Before the reformation much of the land was owned by the two cathedrals and nearly 80 other monasteries and religious houses established in Kent. Cities and towns also held land. Non-ecclesiastical holdings were made smaller by the Kentish custom of gavel kind, or partible inheritance, whereby estates did not evolve to the eldest surviving son but were divided equally between all the male children after their father's death.
However, by the sixteenth century a number of significant landed families began to emerge such as the Knatchbulls of Mersham-le-Hatch, the Sackvilles of Knole and the Sidneys of Penshurst. With them came enclosure, most of which was completed in Kent by the end of the seventeenth century.
As with families, so with towns. Kent had no single natural urban centre but several towns of medium size. As local administration developed Kent was divided into two units, East (Men of Kent), administered from Canterbury, and West (Kentish Men), from Maidstone. In 1814 these two separate administrations were merged and Maidstone became the county town.
Kent's position as the nearest point of England to the continent of Europe has always made it vulnerable to invasion. The Hythe military canal was built for use to deter Napoleon in 1792 and garrisons were increased in many Kent towns. Bicycle units were set up in the 1st and 2nd World Wars to carry messages from special Control centres built underground. Many soldiers returning from Dunkerque landed on the Kent coast. The so-called Baedecker reprisal raids and other German bombing raids changed Canterbury and Dover forever; and Kent was the chief victim of the V1 and V2 rocket attacks launched from Germany and Calais in1943 and 1944 against Biggin Hill airport and parts of London.
The building works and extensive road system connected with the Channel Tunnel has changed the face of East Kent. We share many links with our neighbours across the Channel and the tunnel has brought us closer and has begun to affect the lives of the people of Kent as never before. Kent is the main Gateway between the UK and mainland Europe, with the International Station, Ashford is close in time to Lille as to London. The opening of the Channel Tunnel has had the greatest impact on the County's communication links and economic structure since the first trading forays of the Belgae from Northern France around 400BC.
Ease of access by water to London developed Chatham and Sheerness as dockyard towns, and Margate and Ramsgate as seaside resorts. All the towns along the eastern coast were significant either as commercial ports or in the defence of the realm.
Dover, Hythe, New Romney and Sandwich were four of the original five 'Cinque Ports'. Inland on the borders with Sussex important cloth and iron industries developed from the fifteenth century. Many paper mills were setup in the seventeenth century where sufficient water was available. Tunbridge Wells became a fashionable spa town in the1670s. Elsewhere in the County the dominant occupation was horticulture and the growing of hops for brewing. The hop, iron and cloth industries have provided the Kent landscape with two of its most prominent landmarks, the oast houses used for drying hops and the wealden hall houses of the Kent iron masters andcloth manufacturers.
From the 1750s those parts of Kent nearest to London began to develop as suburbs of the capital. The County boundary was adjusted in 1889 when the present boroughs of Greenwich and Lewisham became part of London. To these were added, in 1965, the present boroughs of Bromley and Bexley.Further parts of Kent lying between the A21 and the M25 became, in 1974, London Boroughs but remain part of historic Kent.
Much of West Kent is now London commuter territory and towns like Maidstone, Sevenoaks and Tonbridge have expanded rapidly in size and population. The coming of the railways in the mid-nineteenth century was responsible for reviving the fortunes of Folkestone and for transforming Ashford from a sleeply market town to the centre of railway communications in Kent.
During the war both Canterbury and Dover were heavily bombed by Germany and received numerous V1 and V2 rocket attacks from Calais during 1943. The subsequent rebuilding of Canterbury and the enlargement of towns like Maidstone and Dover since 1963 has changed much of Kent. The building works and extensive road system connected with the Channel Tunnel has had the greatest impact on the County's communication links and economic structure since the first trading forays of the Belgae from northern France around about 400 BC.
Hengest and Horsa (Wiki)