Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


Kent is a historic county located in the southeastern corner of England.

In Octavius’s reign it was ruled by Aldolf. In Vortigern’s time it was the kingdom of Gwyrangon, but given by Vortigern to the Saxon leader Hengist. Saxons continued to occupy it throughout Arthur’s reign.

King Vortimer fought a battle against Hengist in Kent, and Horsa and Vortigern’s son Vortiger were slain. Many years later, when Mordred seized the throne of England, most of Kent allied with him. Arthur offered it to Mordred as part of a peace treaty that was never achieved. Kent was a hotly contested piece of land during the time in which Arthur was said to thrive. It was one of the first to fall under the control of the Saxons.

In the Arthurian period Kent would seem to have been under Anglo-Saxon rule and at this time, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, may have been ruled by King Aesc (from year 512), son of Hengist, who reigned AD 488-512. William of Malmesbury says Aesc did not enlarge his father’s kingdom, but had to defend it. This implies he had a formidable foe, such as Arthur, with whom to contend.

Bede says that Kent was originally settled by the Jutes, and this has led to an association between Hengist, his brother Horsa, and Jutland, the homeland of the Jutes.

In Dryden’s King Arthur, it is ruled by Oswald, Arthur’s Saxon enemy.

Kent | 0 to 1000 AD

Roman Era | 43 to 410 AD
In the first century AD, the Roman Empire invaded and conquered Britain, including the region of Kent. The Romans established a network of roads and towns in Kent, including Durovernum Cantiacorum, which would later become the city of Canterbury. This city became a major administrative and trade center. Kent was part of the Roman province of Britannia, and its fertile lands were used for agriculture.

Early Anglo-Saxon Period | 5th to 7th centuries
After the Roman withdrawal from Britain around 410 AD, Kent became the first area in England to be settled by the Anglo-Saxons, Jutes in particular. The Kingdom of Kent was established, and it is considered one of the earliest Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in England. Its rulers were known as the Jutish kings. Kent was frequently involved in conflicts with neighboring kingdoms and was part of the early struggles for dominance among the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

Kent is traditionally associated with the arrival of Hengist and Horsa, Jutish leaders who are said to have been invited by Vortigern, a Romano-British ruler, to help defend against Pictish and Scottish invaders. Hengist and Horsa established the Kingdom of Kent, one of the early Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in England.

Conversion to Christianity | Late 6th – early 7th centuries
The sixth century saw the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. Saint Augustine, sent by Pope Gregory the Great, arrived in Kent in 597 AD. St. Augustine was granted permission to establish a church, which later became Canterbury Cathedral, and became the first Archbishop of Canterbury and played a crucial role in the Christianization of Anglo-Saxon England. Aethelberht, the King of Kent, converted to Christianity which laid way for the spread of the new faith in England.

Mercian and Viking Invasions | 8th to 9th centuries
In the eighth century, Mercia, another Anglo-Saxon kingdom, exerted influence over Kent, which was ruled by various Anglo-Saxon kings and overlord during this period.

The kingdom saw periodic Viking raids and invasions, which were common throughout England. In 850 AD, Canterbury was raided by Vikings, and the following decades saw increased Viking activites in the region. The Vikings established the Danelaw, a region under Viking control, which included parts of Kent. King Alfred of Wessex, a notable figure in English history, played a key role in resisting Viking invasions. While Kent faced Viking challenges, Alfred’s efforts to defend England set the stage for the eventual unification of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

After the Viking Age, Kent continued to be an important region in England, and its history is closely tied to the broader history of the country. It remained a center of Christianity, with Canterbury as a major ecclesiastical center. Kent was eventually absorbed into the Kingdom of England as the various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were unified under English rule.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle | 9th century
Historia Brittonum | Probably Nennius, early 9th century
Roman de Brut | Wace, c. 1155
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470
King Arthur; or, the British Worthy | John Dryden, 1691