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The Lathe was an administrative division of the county of Kent.
The seven Lathes of Aylesford, Milton, and Sutton (West Kent), and Borough, Eastry, Lympne, and Wye (East Kent), were the primary divisions of the county, intermediate between the county and Hundred. In this respect, they were similar to the Rapes of Sussex and the Ridings of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. They are first documented in the seventh century and probably go back to the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Kent, and so to the origins of English history, in the fifth century. The division between East and West Kent is another legacy from early Anglo-Saxon history, when the two halves of Kent were sometimes ruled by separate kings.
In the early centuries the Lathes were centred on royal vills and their main function would have been to provide food-rents and military manpower to the king. In 1086, their functions would have been similar to those of the Hundred, though how these were divided between the Hundred and the Lathe is unclear. In Domesday, the Lathes assented to laws while the Hundreds gave evidence in disputes.
For more detail, see Alan Everitt, Continuity and colonisation: the evolution of Kentish settlement (1986); and Stephen R. Bassett, The origins of the English kingdoms (1990).