Eadbald of Kent
b.abt 0575 Kent, England
m. ABT 567
Facts and Events
Eadbald was King of Kent from 616 until his death in 640. He was the son of King Æthelberht and his wife Bertha, a daughter of the Merovingian king Charibert. Æthelberht made Kent the dominant force in England during his reign and became the first Anglo-Saxon king to convert to Christianity from Anglo-Saxon paganism. Eadbald's accession was a significant setback for the growth of the church, since he retained his indigenous paganism and did not convert to Christianity for at least a year, and perhaps for as much as eight years. He was ultimately converted by either Laurentius or Justus, and separated from his first wife, who had been his stepmother, at the insistence of the church. Eadbald's second wife was Emma, who may have been a Frankish princess. She bore him two sons, Eormenred and Eorcenberht, and a daughter, Eanswith.
Eadbald's influence was less than his father's, but Kent was powerful enough to be omitted from the list of kingdoms dominated by Edwin of Northumbria. Edwin's marriage to Eadbald's sister, Æthelburg, established a good relationship between Kent and Northumbria which appears to have continued into Oswald's reign. When Æthelburg fled to Kent on Edwin's death in about 633, she sent her children to Francia for safety, fearing the intrigues of both Eadbald and Oswald. The Kentish royal line made several strong diplomatic marriages over the succeeding years, including the marriage of Eanflæd, Eadbald's niece, to Oswiu, and of Eorcenberht to Seaxburh, daughter of King Anna of East Anglia.
Eadbald died in 640 and was buried in the Church of St Mary, which he 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). At that time, his relics were translated for reburial in the south transept ca. A.D. 1087.
He was succeeded by Eorcenberht. Eormenred may have been his oldest son, but if he reigned at all it was only as a junior king.