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Wihtred

Wihtred (d. 725), king of Kent (690 (as joint king), sole ruler 692, 694–725). Wihtred is chiefly remembered for laws issued in 695, the third and last of the surviving Kentish ‘codes’. Much of its emphasis is ecclesiastical. The first clause grants the church immunity from taxation. Others seek to enforce the church's rules on marriage, fasting, and the observance of the sabbath. We cannot assume that such laws were necessarily much more than indicative of the aspirations of ecclesiastics who played a large part in drawing them up. But it is important that they could have stood for much more; for an enforced godly regime. Certainly Wihtred was a major benefactor to monasteries. A characteristic of his Kent was wealth: an abundant silver coinage of ‘sceattas’ was minted there, and Kent lay at a great maritime crossroads. The silver coins and the pious efforts of Wihtred's reign must relate to this and to one another in ways no less important than hard to disentangle.

James Campbell

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