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SS. Aethelred & Aethelbert of Eastry
(Died c.AD 670)

These two Princes of Kent, were the sons of Ermenred, an early 7th century sub-King in Kent under his father, King Edbald. He, unfortunately, predeceased his father and Edbald was succeeded in the kingdom by his younger son, Erconbert.

In AD 664, King Erconbert of Kent died and was followed by his own son, Egbert. King Egbert I was not confident in his new position and looked with paranoia upon his young and pious cousins, Aethelred and Aethelbert. His anxieties led him to listen too readily to the evil suggestions of one of his advisers name Thunnor and he was persuaded that he was not safe on his throne while these princes lived. Egbert never gave explicit consent to the destruction of his cousins, but his opposition to the evil designs of Thunnor became weaker and weaker.

Eventually, around AD 670, Thunnor murdered the two lads and buried them quietly, without prayers or honours, under the hall of the King's Palace at Eastry. However, a supernatural light shone over the concealed tomb and revealed the crime. The King, filled with horror and remorse, sent for his chief thanes and bishops, and confessed his guilty half-consent to the murder. He had the bodies removed and buried with Royal honours behind the high altar in the church of Wakering in Essex, where miracles were soon reported in testimony of their innocence and sanctity. They were later translated to Ramsey Abbey (17th October).

According to Saxon law, King Egbert was required to pay weregild, or 'the price of blood' in expiation for his crimes. He gave the Isle of Thanet to the princes' sister, St. Aebbe, and here she founded the monastery of Minster-in-Thanet in their honour.

 

    Nash Ford Publishing 2001. All Rights Reserved.