Æthelbert (ĕˈthəlbərt, ă–) [key], d. 616, king of Kent (560?–616). Although defeated by the West Saxons in 568, he became the strongest ruler in England S of the Humber River. His wife, Bertha, daughter of a Frankish king, was a Christian. Æthelbert received (597) the missionaries sent by Pope Gregory I to England and was converted by St. Augustine of Canterbury. The first Christian king in Anglo-Saxon England, he made his capital, Canterbury, a great Christian center. The code of laws issued by him is the earliest surviving document in the Anglo-Saxon vernacular.
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