Kings of Kent - from Eorcenbehrt to Ealhmund Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Kings of Kent - from Eorcenbehrt to Ealhmund

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Eorcenberht (circa 620 - 664) was the son of Eadbald and his wife Emma who was the daughter of Clothaire II, King of the Franks. Somehow the crown passed over his elder brother Eormenred, but St Bede1 speaks in high praise of the eventual successor saying he 'ruled most nobly for 24 years and some months'. He was the first English king to order the complete destruction of idols in his realm and ordered his people to observe the Lenten fast. He married Sexburga the eldest daughter of King Anna of East Anglia, who bore him two sons who would reign after him and two daughters; Eorcongota (a nun), and Eormengild who married Wulfhere, the King of Mercia. He died on 14 July, 664, as Bede notes, the same day as Deussdedit, the 6th Archbishop of Canterbury. His widow founded a convent and eventually became Abbess of Ely.

Egbert I (died 673) was the eldest son of Eocenberht and Sexburga and reigned from his father's death in 664. During his reign, Theodore of Tarsus was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. Egbert died in July 673 to be succeeded by his brother.

Hlothere (died 685) was the son of Eorcenberht and Sexburga of East Anglia who was the daughter of King Earpwald. He was named after his Great-grandfather Clothaire II, King of the Franks. He succeeded his brother Egbert in 673 but from circa 676 he ruled jointly with Suaebhard of Essex, son of King Sebbi. They had formed an alliance to fend off the Mercians who in that year had ravaged Kent. In 685 a rebellion of the south Saxons lead by his nephew Eadric rose up against Hlothere and according to Bede he died as his wounds were being dressed. Nothing is known of his wife or children but Eadric succeeded to the throne.

The Sons of Egbert I

Eadric (died circa 686/7) reigned from 685 in succession to his uncle Hlothere. He reigned jointly with Suaebhard and Oswini2.

Wihtred (died 725) was the son of Egbert I who according to Bede became King in the autumn of 690, at first jointly with Suaebhard until about 692. During his reign 'various alien kings and usurpers plundered the kingdom for a while'. But Withred freed his nation by his 'devotion and diligence'. He was married three times; first to Cynegyth, then Ethelburga and then Weburga. Wihtred died on 23 April, 725.

The Sons of Wihtred

Ethelbert II (died 762) and Eadberht (died 748) were Wihtred's sons by his first wife Cynegyth, who succeeded their father in 725 and co-reigned along with their half brother Alric. After Eadberht's death Ethelbert reigned in conjunction with his half brother Alric and his nephew Eardwulf, son of Eadberht, who had started to co-reign from 747.

Alric was the son of Wihtred and his third wife Werberga. He reigned with his half brothers Ethelbert and Eadberht. However, after Eadbert's death, Ethelbert exercised supreme power over both Alric and Eardwulf.

Egbert II (died circa 780) was probably the son of Ethelbert II and reigned from 765. However, he appears to have been subjugated by King Offa of Mercia.

Eadberht II Praen (died 7983) is presumed to be the son of Ethelbert II and is famous for taking the Kentish throne in 796. However, two years later King Coenwulf of Mercia fought Kent and seized Eadberht taking him bound to Mercia, where his eyes were gouged out and his hands cut off. It seems unlikely he could have survived this fate hence the presumed date of death.

Ealhmund (786) was the son of Eafa of Wessex. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle he reigned in 786. He probably inherited the title through his wife who is assumed to be the daughter of Ethelbert II. He is the father of Egbert who became King of Wessex and most of England.

1St Bede was the first chronicler of early English history.2Who is found in charters but of whom little is known.3A date open to conjecture.

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