Eorcenberht of Kent

Eorcenberht of Kent (also Ærconberht, Earconberht, or Earconbert) (died 14 July 664) was king of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Kent from 640 until his death, succeeding his father Eadbald.[1]

King of Kent
Reign20 January 640 – 14 July 664
Died14 July 664
Church of St Mary, Canterbury
SpouseSeaxburh of Ely
ReligionRoman Catholic

The Kentish Royal Legend (also known as the Mildrith legend[2]) suggests that he was the younger son of Eadbald and Emma of Austrasia, and that his older brother Eormenred was deliberately passed over, although another possibility is that they ruled jointly.

According to Bede (HE III.8), Eorcenberht was the first king in Britain to command that pagan "idols" (cult images) be destroyed and that Lent be observed. It has been suggested that these orders may have been officially committed to writing, in the tradition of Kentish law-codes initiated by Æthelberht, but no such text survives.[3]

After the death of Honorius, Archbishop of Canterbury, Eorcenberht appointed the first Saxon archbishop, Deusdedit, in 655.

Eorcenberht married Seaxburh of Ely,[4] daughter of king Anna of East Anglia. They had two sons, Ecgberht and Hlothhere, who each consecutively became king of Kent, and two daughters who both were eventually canonized: Saint Eorcengota became a nun at Faremoutiers Abbey on the continent, and Saint Ermenilda became abbess at Ely.

Eorcenberht was probably buried alongside his parents in the Church of St Mary, which his father had built in the precincts of the monastery of St Peter and St Paul in Canterbury, a church later incorporated within the Norman edifice of St Augustine's.[5] At that time, his relics were translated for reburial in the south transept ca. A.D. 1087.[6]


  1. ^ Bede; Jane, L. C. (translator) (1903), Ecclesiastical History of the English People, vol. 3 {{citation}}: |first2= has generic name (help)
  2. ^ D. W. Rollason, The Mildrith Legend: A Study in Early Medieval Hagiography in England (series "Studies in the Early History of Britain", Leicester University) 1983.
  3. ^ Dorothy Whitelock, English Historical Documents. Vol. 1. p. 361.
  4. ^ Ecclesiastical History of the English People
  5. ^ S. E. Kelly, Eorcenberht, Oxford Online Dictionary of National Biography, 2004
  6. ^ See, e.g., the guide booklet to St. Augustine's Abbey (London: English Heritage, 1997), 20, 25.


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Regnal titles
Preceded by King of Kent
Succeeded by