king of Kent and Bretwalda

He was the son of Eormenric and rose to the throne of the Centwara in the year of our Lord 560.

Of the utmost significance was his marriage to Bertha a Frankish princess, who like all of her tribe had been baptised a Christian and thus brought with her to the shores of England a Christian priest who first preached the gospel to the pagan Anglo-Saxons. Aethelberht thus became a Christian himself and accepted the mission of Augustine who came in the year 597 to establish the faith and was given Canterbury to build his church. From these small beginnings from Canterbury the church spread across the whole of England south of the River Humber.

His influence spread far and wide beyond the confines of Kent and was thus considered by the Venerable Bede to have succeeded Ceawlin of the West Saxons as Bretwalda.

Aethelbert died in the year of our Lord 516 and was followed by his son Eadbald but the honour of being Bretwalda passed not to his son but to Raedwald of East Anglia.

Also a king of East Anglia, son of Aethelred who preceded him upon the throne. All that is known of this Aethelbert is the time of his death, as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says of the year 792 that "This year Offa, King of Mercia, commanded that King Aethelbert should be beheaded".

Other sources say that he was killed by Quendritha, king Offa's who, on the occaision of a visit by Aethelbert to the court of Mercia, caused a deep pit to be dug in Aethelbert's bed chamber into which he fell and was smothered to death. His body was secretly buried, but later revealed by a light from heaven and taken to Hereford Catherdral, where its association with many miracles led to this Aethelbert being considered a saint.

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