Born – c540
Died – 24th February 616
Father – Eormenric
Mother – Unknown
Spouse – m. c580 – Bertha of Kent (c565 – c601)
Children – Eadbald (d. 640), Aethelburg (d. 647)
King of Kent – 560 – 616
Predecessor – Eormenric 540 – 560
Successor – Eadbald 616 – 640
Aethelberht King of Kent
was born the son of Eormenric of Kent. The exact year of his birth is not known and those records that exist offer conflicting evidence. However, the general consensus is that Aethelberht became King of Kent in 560. There is no suggestion of there being a regent so he was not a child. A birth date of 540 would make him 20 years old when he became King.
Battle of Wibbandun
Ceawlin of Wessex
fought this battle against King Aethelberht of Kent. The records state that Ceawlin drove Aethelberht back to Kent which suggests that Aethelberht had invaded.
Aethelberht married Bertha, daughter of Charibert I of France. Her father had died in 567. Bertha was a Christian and it was agreed that she could practice her religion when she came to Kent. Bertha brought a chaplain, Liudhard of Senlis with her.
Aethelberht’s wife, Bertha, worshipped in St Martin’s church built near Canterbury.
It is believed that Aethelberht held the title Bretwalda (dominant ruler of the kingdoms of Britain) around this date. It was previously held by Ceawlin of Wessex and he was deposed in 591.
The Christian missionary, Augustine, landed on the Isle of Thanet with about 40 monks. It is likely that Pope Gregory directed Augustine to Kent knowing that Aethelberht’s wife was a Christian.
Aethelberht converted to Christianity on Whitsun-day.
Aethelberht founded the Abbey of St Peter and Paul (later renamed St Augustine’s) in Canterbury and donated the Royal palace in Canterbury for the use of the Augustine who became Archbishop of Canterbury.
Aethelberht drew up a code of laws for the government of the kingdom of Kent. Known as Aethelberht’s law it was one of the earliest codes of laws to be written down. The exact date it was introduced is not known but as the law contains provision for the protection of the church it must be after his conversion. Most sources state early 7th century.
, King of East Anglia
, paid a visit to Kent and was baptised during the visit. It is likely that King Aethelberht was his sponsor.
St Augustine’s Abbey in Canterbury was consecrated.
Augustine died in Canterbury. He was buried in the new Abbey.
Aethelberht’s wife, Bertha, died.
Aethelberht married for the second time but the identity of his wife is not known.
616 (24th February)
Published May 20, 2020 @ 1:45 pm – Updated –
Harvard Reference for this page:
Heather Y Wheeler. (2020). Aethelberht King of Kent d 616. Available: https://www.totallytimelines.com/aethelberht-king-of-kent-d-616. Last accessed August 23rd, 2021