Kent battles and rebellions

Akin to any other place in the world, Kent's fate was often decided by the outcome of battles and leadership was gained through bloodshed. Points were made in a similar manner, through popular uprisings.

Battle of Aylesford, 445 AD

Seen as a treacherous deed with drastic ethnic and cultural consequences, the battle of Aylesford marked the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain. It consisted of a Jutish army attempting to take over the whole of Kent from its host, King Vortigern, who was using its services against northern tribes. The army was lead by brothers Hengist (also referred to as Hengest) and Horsa, two mercenaries who had settled on the island of Thanet a few years the Picts and Scots. From the sources mentioning it, namely the Historia Britonum and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, it appears that after obtaining increased privileges in Kent, Hengist and Horsa wanted full domination over the region and ambushed Vortigern's army by calling a false council. The Jutes were victorious, yet Horsa was killed in battle. As a result of this coup, Hengist became the founder of the Kingdom of Kent.

The Battle of Otford, 776

There is still a dispute between historians over the battle of Otford, as the sources are somewhat interpretable. The battle was mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles and the victor is not clearly identifiable, yet the circumstances are well known. After establishing the independent Kingdom of Kent, the Jutes maintained its status for a few hundred years, until the Kingdom of Mercia became an important threat to that independence, seeking to expand its influence. According to some, the battle between King Offa of Mercia and Egbert of Kent was won by the latter and independence was preserved for a number of years. Differing opinions exists as the Kingdom of Kent subsequently became part of Mercia, yet this is believed to have happened a number of years later.

The Peasant Revolt, 1381

Renowned for being the first popular uprising in England, the 1381 revolt started due to very high taxation, which the peasants ultimately refused to keep paying. The situation was very tense for a number of reasons, one being the peasants' obligation to provide free labour on church estates, which interfered with their own livelihood and had to be ended. The Poll Tax was introduced by King Richard II, who was very young at the time, in order to maintain an on-going war with France, and that supposedly pushed things over the edge. The leader of this revolt was Wat Tyler, a Maidstone man who killed a tax collector in legitimate defence of his daughter, who was being assaulted by him. He was joined by masses of people in the area, who refused to submit to tax collectors' demands any longer, including a group lead by two priests, one of whom was John Ball. They gathered as many as 100.000 people and marched to London, where they captured the Tower of London and generally caused havoc. On the 14th of June, Wat Tyler was killed, although news of his death was not immediately released to the public. The king met with the peasants twice, on the 14th and 15th of June, and lied to them on both occasions, which caused them to disperse and return to their homes. Not surprisingly, the promises he made to them were never fulfilled.

Maidstone Royalist rebellion, 1st of June 1648

The English Civil War was a lengthy and complicated process seeking to completely transform not only a political system but a way of life, and as expected, caused major rioting all over England's territory. Royalist forces were still determined to fight back and preserve the establishment as it existed before the war broke out in1642, yet by persevering, supporters of the Long Parliament finally succeeded in their quest to overturn monarchy. Following a tense winter in 1647, after general discontent following the Parliament's attempt to ban Christmas celebration and impose an austere, sombre approach to religion, a rebellion of mass proportions finally broke out in June 1648. The Royalists were lead by the Earl of Norwich and had gathered around 3000 men, yet poorly equipped for battle and with very little training, occupying and seeking to defend the town of Maidstone against Parliamentarian forces. The latter however, lead by General Fairfax, had an army almost three times larger and consisting of well trained soldiers. Fairfax secured his position by capturing a number of key objectives around Maidstone, which resulted in most of Norwich's army dispersing and fleeing.