Kent was founded, according to tradition, in the middle of the 5th cent. by two brothers of Jutish origin, Hengist and Horsa, who came to Britain to protect the native inhabitants against the Picts and Scots, turned against their paymasters, and won a kingdom for themselves. Kingship was not always unitary, and there were two clear‐cut divisions within Kent along the Medway, the men of Kent and the Kentishmen. There are also vestiges of survival of Roman administrative divisions. Under Æthelbert (d. 616), Kent reached the height of its political power, falling back later in the 7th cent. as overlordship passed briefly to East Anglia, and then to Northumbria. Æthelbert's chief claim to fame is his acceptance of Christianity, and with the help of the mission led by St Augustine he framed laws to accommodate the new church. But politically Kent had no high aspirations, and was overshadowed in the 8th cent. by Mercia, and after 825 by Wessex. There were no independent kings in Kent after 825, though Canterbury preserved its special prestige as an archbishopric.
Subjects: British History.