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-Saxons). Historians are in dispute over the authenticity of the traditional belief that Hengist and Horsa landed in 449 to defend the Britons against the Picts and whether Hengist and his son Aesc subsequently turned against their employer, Vortigern. 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 Kent. Æthelbert 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 Offa. 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 Wessex 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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