He attempted at one stage to wrest the position of Bretwalda from Ceawlin of Wessex but was unsuccesful. His standing was advanced by his marriage with Bertha, daughter of Charibert, king of the Franks, and after Ceawlin's death he succeeded in becoming Bretwalda.
The influence of Bertha, who had brought a Frankish priest with her as chaplain, may have led to the invitation to Pope Gregory I to send missionaries from Rome. Augustine arrived in Canterbury in 596.
He was later canonised.