“The World, according to the best geographers, is divided into Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and Romney Marsh.”

Anglo-Saxon Kent

 
The Kingdom of Kent was the first Anglo-Saxon kingdom. The Jutes, a group from southern Scandinavia, settled on the coast of Kent after the Romans left Britain. They ruled the lands to the east of the River Stour, which runs through Canterbury. 


Anglo-Saxon England or Early Medieval England, existing from the 5th to the 11th centuries from the end of Roman Britain until the Norman conquest in 1066, consisted of various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 927 when it was united as the Kingdom of England by King Æthelstan (r. 927–939). It became part of the short-lived North Sea Empire of Cnut the Great, a personal union between England, Denmark, and Norway in the 11th century.

The Anglo-Saxons were members of Germanic-speaking groups who migrated to the southern half of the island of Great Britain from nearby northwestern Europe.

Aethelberht of King
Aethelberht of Kent

Anglo-Saxon history thus begins during the period of sub-Roman Britain following the end of Roman control, and traces the establishment of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the 5th and 6th centuries (conventionally identified as seven main kingdoms: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex, and Wessex); their Christianisation during the 7th century; the threat of Viking invasions and Danish settlers; the gradual unification of England under the Wessex hegemony during the 9th and 10th centuries; and ending with the Norman conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 1066.

Anglo-Saxon identity survived beyond the Norman conquest, came to be known as Englishry under Norman rule, and through social and cultural integration with Celts, Danes and Normans became the modern English people.

Kent - Anglo-Saxon Kingdom AD 500-700

Kent, one of the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, probably geographically coterminous with the modern county, famous as the site of the first landing of Anglo-Saxon settlers in Britain, as the kingdom that received the first Roman mission to the Anglo-Saxons, and for its distinctive social and administrative customs.

According to tradition, the first settlers, led by Hengest and Horsa, landed at the invitation of the British king Vortigern at Ebbs Fleet in Kent around the mid-5th century. After the reigns of Hengest and of his son Aesc, or Oisc (from whom members of the Kentish royal house were named Oiscingas), nothing is known of Kentish history from 512 until the reign (560–616) of Aethelberht, who by 595 had become the overlord of all the kingdoms south of the River Humber. His wife Bertha, daughter of Charibert, the Frankish king of Paris, was a Christian, and it may have been for that reason that Pope Gregory the Great sent Augustine’s mission to Aethelberht’s court in 597. Aethelberht, after his conversion, gave a dwelling place in Canterbury to the missionaries, and hence this became the first and senior archiepiscopal see of the English church.

Brotain AD 500-700

No Kentish kings ever recovered the overlordship held by Aethelberht, but his great-grandson Egbert (664–673) was king in Surrey as well as in Kent. From the mid-8th century, Offa, king of Mercia, established his power in Kent, which remained subject to Mercia until conquered by Egbert, King of Wessex, in 825. Henceforward, Kent was a province of Wessex, whose kings became kings of all England in the mid-10th century.

The social organization of Kent had many distinctive features, which support the statement of the Venerable Bede that its inhabitants were a different tribe from the Angles and Saxons, namely the Jutes. The place of their continental origin is disputed. Instead of two classes of nobles, or gesithcund, as in Wessex and Mercia, Kent had only one, the eorlcund; and the Kentish ceorl, or free peasant, was a person of considerably greater substance than those elsewhere.
Freehold land in Kent was usually subject to gavelkind, or partible inheritance; administratively, Kent was divided into lathes, apparently centered on royal vills.

In cAD500 Romney Marsh was about a third of the size it is today - see map right ►
See also The Making of the Marsh     

Link Icon Reference and more information

Map of Romney Marsh c AD500
Map of Romney Marsh c AD500