Claudius with four legions. His first engagement took
place at a river, possibly the Medway; his soldiers swam across and
routed the astonished Britons, who had regarded the river as a sure
obstruction to the Roman advance.7
Kent emerges from the obscurity in which the history of our island is
involved after the departure of the Romans, as the first part in which
the Teutonic invaders settled. The Jutish chiefs Hengist and Horsa are
said to have come to Kent during the joint reign of the Emperors Marcian
and Valentinian III (449-455).8 According to Bede, they came on the
invitation of Vortigern to defend Britain against the ravages of the
Picts and Scots. They landed at Ebbsfleet 9 in Thanet, and
soon turned their arms against the Britons. In 455 they reached
the line of the Medway and defeated Vortigern at Aylesford.10
was killed in the action,11 and Hengist, with his son Aesc, assumed
royal power.12 Next year there followed another engagement at
Crayford,13 near Dartford, where 4,000 of the Britons were
slain, and the rest ‘forsook Kent, and in great terror fled to London.’
But the conquest was not yet complete, for in 465 was fought the
battle of ‘Wippedesfleot’.14 Another victory at an unnamed place
in 473, when ‘countless booty’ was taken seems to mark the final
conquest of Kent.15 Such is the story of the Chronicle. The
rather confused account of Nennius 16 may perhaps be
combined with it by the suppositions that this second series of battles
was the result of a British rally under Ambrosius Aurelianus, ‘the
last of those so-called tyrants or usurpers who . . . attempted to
exercise Roman authority in Britain.17 He headed a rising
against the discredited rule of Vortigern, and drove the Jutish invaders
back into Thanet, so that they had to reconquer from him the land they
had already gained in their earlier advance.
Whatever may have been the exact sequence of events, the Kentish
was firmly established by 488, when Aesc came to the throne, presumably
on the death of Hengist.18 Its isolated position, hemmed in
as it was by forest, river and sea, at once prevented its expansion and
secured its independence. The crown descended through Octa and Hermauric
Ethelbert, who succeeded in 560.20 Attempting in 568 to extend
his kingdom to the west, he was driven back at Wimbledon 22
by Ceawlin, king of the West Saxons. This
7 Tacitus, Agricola, cap. xiv; Dion Cassius, lx,
a full discussion of the Roman remains in the county, see the section
dealing with that subject.
8 Bede, Hist. Eccl. i, 15.
Ang1.-Sax. Chron. sub anno
449. Bede calls them duces; the Chronicle, heretogan (i.e.
German herzog); the same word is used of Danish pirates (sub anno
794) and English commanders (anno 993).
9 ‘Ypwines fleot,’ ‘Heopwines fleot,’ in various MSS. of the Chronicle.
10 Angl.-Sax. Chron. sub anno. The name appears in the
extant MSS. as .‘ Aegeles prep,’ but Wheloc prints it from the lost
MS. A as ‘Aegelesford.’ Bede (bc. cit) simply says ‘in
orientalibus partibus Cantiae.’
11 The flint heap of Horsted seems to preserve his name, and is probably
the monument mentioned by Bede (bc. cit.), ‘ Horsa . . . monumentum
habet suo nomine insigne.’
12 ‘feng to rice,’ Angl.-Sax. Chron.
13 ‘Crecganford,’ ibid. sub anno 456 (457).
14 Angl.-Sax. Chron. sub anno. This place cannot be
identified; some, accepting the story of Nennius, have suggested
Ebbsfleet, but this is impossible if’ Ypwines fleot’ is Ebbsfleet.
15 See J. R. Green, Making of England, 27—40. Guest (Origines
Celticae, ii, 178) suggests that this was the conquest of the rich
land round Romney. See below, article on Social and Economic Hist.
16 § 46, 47 in Monumenta Hist.
17 Plummer, Baedae Op. Hist. ii, 30.
18 Angl.-Sax. Chron.
19 Bede, Hist. Eccl. ii, 5.
20 Bede, loc. cit., says he died in 616, having reigned 56 years. The Chronicle
places his succession in 565, and Florence of Worcester in
21 ‘Wibbadun,’ Angl.-Sax. Chron. sub