King Æthelberht & Kent's Golden Age 560-616What did King Ethelbert of Kent do and why did it matter?

 In the aftermath of the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the early 5th century AD death came swiftly to the originally Celtic now romanized province at first it came from the wild trucks have been charted forest land to the north in the form of the pigs the later still it came in long ships and brought with it the worship of north Scots these originally mercenary warriors were Angles Saxons Dukes Frisians various other Germanic peoples from just across the channel they sought land and wealth and a new life in the formerly Roman province at first they mostly consisted of large groups of heavily armed warriors infamous pirates that came mostly from villages scattered along the coastlines of Denmark and northern Germany from where they had raided land on both sides of the channel for centuries the Romans had long paid them to fight in their armies as auxiliaries and now the Western Empire was crumbling and certainty filled the continent by the time the Romans pulled out of Britain in the late fourth and early fifth centuries to fight against incursions from warlike people's much closer to their continental heartlands Saxons may have already been coming to Britain for decades 

What did King Ethelbert of Kent do and why did it matter?

How did King Ethelbert die?

If not centuries the traditional tale related by the semi-legendary anglo-saxon chronicle talks of a certain brittonic king in the midst 5th century named water-gun who invited Saxon mercenaries from across the sea to aid him against Pictish range for modern-day Scotland like the Romans before him he sought to use a military solution to solve a military problem specifically in the form of two brothers Hengist and Horsa who were said to rule the various Germanic peoples the Saxons are said to have adequately dealt with the northerners but not content with the spoils of war they then sought lands of their own with which to settle and rebelled against water gun one story relates how at an unarmed parley between the Saxons and the Britons at Stonehenge in the mid 50 the brittonic nobility were massacred by concealed knives hidden upon the newcomers

 These long blades named sea acts were where the Saxons got their name and no matter how they originally got to Britain they were now here to stay whilst the first major migrations had likely consisted almost entirely of warriors the later ones were much larger and included women and children or so the story goes they were given all carved out for themselves the far south easterly point of Britain to rule the land now known as Kent was soon enough as word spread far and wide throughout the continent of Britain soft underbelly tens of thousands of battle-hardened warriors not flocked to carve themselves out a kingdom this period is hazy we don't know exactly what happened although the archaeological evidence does suggest a fairly swift change in culture and language from romano britain 'ok which was pushed to the peripheries of wales Cornwall and Cumbria -

 A Germanic one the anglo-saxon chronicles relate how West Saxons push deep into the country forming the nation of Wessex the angles on the other hand mostly landed on the eastern coastline and formed the nations which would go on to become Northumbria East Anglia and Murcia finally the Dukes inhabited the most ancient of the kingdoms Kent a land distinct and culture from the rest and unique in being the only jutice realm by the year five eight nine after the initial hazy period of warfare and mass migration which followed the Roman withdrawal from Britain an important rule of surfaces in Kent named Ethelbert he is one of the first reliable mentions of a ruler in anglo-saxon

 England beed calls him a Brett Walder or Briton ruler which signified his success in ruling over other nations besides his own reportedly the third king to hold that title he was also the first anglo-saxon King to convert to Christianity which is precisely why we know so much about him it isn't known exactly how aethelbert came to the throne is there are very little records from this period and the ones that we do have are often fairly questionable Ethelbert may have been a descendant of the famous warlord Hengist just one of many who had managed to carve themselves out to hereditary Kingdom in England most importantly for us Ethelbert is said to have been the first convert to Christianity and crucially beed writes a great deal about his life as a result he may have been born in around 560 as the son of King be Amon Eric a ruler with ties to the continent we know that Ethelbert was married to Bertha the daughter of the Frankish king aribert which thus signified an alliance with the most powerful state in Europe at the time and one which he would use to gain power in Britain for the rest of his reign in the F 597 Augustine a Benedictine monk was sent to count to spread the word of God under Augustine's guidance and Ethelbert instruction many churches were established throughout the land and the people began to gradually convert to Christianity his kingdom was rich and possibly the most well established and oldest and thus enjoyed a monopoly over trade to the continent at the time Ethelbert introduced a standardised currency likely the first of its kind in anglo-saxon England and he wrote a law code in Germanic which was also likely the first of its kind Kent may have been split into two kingdoms

 During this time which could be one reason why he is referred to as a Brett Walder or Britain ruler as the King of East Kent which was traditionally the stronger of the two kingdoms and the first established he may have also been able to exert influence over foreign rulers in the rest of the island specifically in East Anglia Northumbria and Murcia this could be another explanation for why he is called Bratt Walder writing 200 years later beed describes Ethelbert capital at Canterbury as a metropolis never one for modesty when describing Kings he favoured we can nevertheless imagine that Canterbury it was a large settlement from the time Frankish influences can be detected and the grave goods discovered from this period which suggests rich trade with the mainland there may have even been direct settlement from the Franks in Kent during this time the anglo-saxon Chronicle reports Ethelbert is fighting a battle against the previous Pratt Walder Cailin of Wessex in five six eight Ethelbert reportedly lost the battle and was driven back to Kent and it's unclear what happens next but by 6:08 Ethelbert seems to have been the dominant king who beads speaks off his influence may have extended over the other anglo-saxon Kings this is the period when he is said to have begun spreading Christianity throughout England supposedly persuading fellow kings such as say Bert of Essex to join him ray rolled of East Anglia the although that many suspect is the one who spectacular grave goods were found as Sutton Hoo in 1939 also converted to Christianity during this time possibly on instruction from Ethelbert however as the Sutton Hoo ship burial suggests he did not fully give up his pagan beliefs rather incorporating Christianity alongside them whilst red world is said to have retained control of his military bead states that Ethelbert power was so great that he held over all Imperium opening East Anglian kink unfortunately we know next to nothing of the Kingdom of Sussex during this period and no evidence remains of Ethelbert influence extending into Murcia Northumbria or Wessex Ethelbert died in 616 and his son eared bold to succeeded him he was a pagan and although he converted to Christianity later in his life Kent would never again enjoy such dominance over the other kingdoms as it had supposedly enjoyed of death for Bert the kingdom of Kent existed until the 9th century at various times dominated by Mercia and Wessex until they were all eventually incorporated into the kingdom of England Ethelbert although largely forgotten today was historically regarded as a saint for his role in establishing christianity amongst the anglo-saxons