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HENGEST and HORSA, the brother chieftains who led the first Saxon bands which settled in England. They were apparently called in by the British king Vortigern (q.v.)to defend him against the Picts. The place of their landing is said to have been Ebbsfleet in Kent. Its date is not certainly known, 450-455 being given by the English authorities, 428 by the Welsh (see KENT). The settlers of Kent are described by Bede as Jutes (q.v.), and there are traces in Kentish custom of differences from the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. Hengest and Horsa were at first given the island of Thanet as a home, but soon quarrelled with their British allies, and gradually possessed themselves of what became the kingdom of Kent. In 455 the Saxon Chronicle records a battle between Hengest and Horsa and Vortigern at a place called Aegaels threp, in which Horsa was slain. Thenceforward Hengest reigned in Kent, together with his son Aesc (Oisc). Both the Saxon Chronicle and the Historia Brittonum record three subsequent battles, though the two authorities disagree as to their issue. There is no doubt, however, that the net result was the expulsion of the Britons from Kent. According to the Chronicle, which probably derived its information from a lost list of Kentish kings, Hengest died in 488, while his son Aesc continued to reign until 512.

Bede, Hist. Eccl. (Plummet, 1896), i. 15, ii. 5; Saxon Chronicle (Earle and Plummer, 1899), s.a. 449, 455, 457, 465, 473; Nennius, Ilistoria Brittonum (San Marte, 1844), 31, 37, 38, 43-46, 58.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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