(c. 565—606) queen in Kent, consort of Æthelberht

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(d. c.603),

queen of Kent. The daughter of Charibert, the Merovingian king at Paris (561–7), and of Queen Ingeborg, Bertha married Ethelbert, king of Kent, at an unknown date. When Augustine arrived in Canterbury from Rome, he found a church used by Bertha with her episcopal chaplain Liudhard. She had been granted toleration to practise the Christian religion when she married a then pagan king. There is no hard evidence for her having furthered the Christianization of Kent; on the contrary, a letter of Gregory the Great gently but firmly reproached her for not having done more to further the conversion of her husband. This has not prevented speculations and even assertions that she was an important factor in the whole process. Her father had been notorious for violence and polygamy, but her mother was devout and wise, according to Gregory of Tours. Bertha died before Ethelbert and there seems to have been no early cult; but after the translation of the Canterbury saints in 1091 (described by Goscelin), Bertha was venerated with them, at least at Canterbury. There seems to be no record of a more widespread cult.

Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks, iv. 26 and ix. 26;Bede, H.E., i. 25.

Subjects: Christianity — British History.

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