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"Atilla" and "Attila the Hun" redirect here. For other uses, see Attila (disambiguation), Atilla (disambiguation), and Attila the Hun (disambiguation).


especially in Jordanes' The Origin and Deeds of the Goths, which contains numerous references to Priscus's history, and it is also an important source of information about the Hunnic empire and its neighbors. He describes the legacy of Attila and the Hunnic people for a century after Attila's death. Marcellinus Comes, a chancellor of Justinian during the same era, also describes the relations between the Huns and the Eastern Roman Empire.

Numerous ecclesiastical writings contain useful but scattered information, sometimes difficult to authenticate or distorted by years of hand-copying between the 6th and 17th centuries. The Hungarian writers of the 12th century wished to portray the Huns in a positive light as their glorious ancestors, and so repressed certain historical elements and added their own legends.

Indirectly, fragments of this oral history have reached us via the literature of the Scandinavians and Germans, neighbors of the Huns who wrote between the 9th and 13th centuries. Attila is a major character in many Medieval epics, such as the Nibelungenlied, as well as various Eddas and sagas.

Huns in battle with the Alans. An 1870s engraving after a drawing by Johann Nepomuk Geiger (1805–1880)Archaeological investigation has uncovered some details about the lifestyle, art, and warfare of the Huns. There are a few traces of battles and sieges, but the tomb of Attila and the location of his capital have not yet been found.

The origin and language of the Huns has been the subject of debate for centuries. According to some theories, their leaders at least may have spoken a Turkic language, perhaps closest to the modern Chuvash language. (Large numbers of Vandals, Alans, Suebi, and Burgundians crossed the Rhine and invaded Roman Gaul on December 31, 406 to escape the Huns.

The Huns were also the indirect source of many of the Romans' problems, driving various Germanic tribes into Roman territory, yet relations between the two empires were cordial: the Romans used the Huns as mercenaries against the Germans and even in their civil wars. Thus, the usurper Joannes was able to recruit thousands of Huns for his army against Valentinian III in 424. It was Aëtius, later Patrician of the West, who managed this operation. They exchanged ambassadors and hostages, the alliance lasting from 401 to 450 and permitting the Romans numerous military victories.

The Empire of the Huns and subject tribes at the time of Attila

Attila the Hun (r. 434-453 CE) was the leader of the ancient nomadic people known as the Huns and ruler of the Hunnic Empire, which he established. His name means "Little Father" and, according to some historians, may not have been his birth name but "a term of affection and respect conferred on his accession" (Man, 159). This name was synonymous with terror among his enemies and the general populace of the territories that his armies swept through. (Source: www.worldhistory.org and negotiated an advantageous treaty. The Romans agreed to return the fugitives, to double their previous tribute of 350 Roman pounds (c. 115 kg) of gold, to open their markets to Hunnish traders, and to pay a ransom of eight solidi for each Roman taken prisoner by the Huns. The Huns, satisfied with the treaty, decamped from the Roman Empire and returned to their home in the Great Hungarian Plain, perhaps to consolidate and strengthen their empire. Theodosius used this opportunity to strengthen the walls of Constantinople, building the city's first sea wall, and to build up his border defenses along the Danube. (Source:en.wikipedia.org))

Attila's incursions into the regions of Germania drove the populations across the borders of the Western Roman Empire and contributed to its decline in the late 5th century CE. The influx of the Visigoths, in particular, and their later revolt against Rome, is considered a significant contributor to Rome's fall. The Visigoth victory over the Romans at the Battle of Adrianople in 378 CE was an event the Roman military never fully recovered from. Further, that victory encouraged the Huns to join the Visigoths (their former adversaries) in plundering Roman territories. The apparent weakness of Rome encouraged Attila, once he became leader of the Huns, to make and break treaties (such as the Treaty of Margus in 439 CE) without fear of consequences, and his wide-scale destruction of Roman cities and towns met with little or no resistance for the most part, making it clear that the Roman army was no longer the kind of invincible fighting force it once had been. (Source: www.worldhistory.org)

Attila's ability to command a vast army of warriors (often comprised of different tribes such as the Alans, Alemanni, and Ostrogoths) was also in contrast to Roman generals of his time, who had difficulty keeping their non-Roman contingents under control (most clearly seen in the Roman general Litorius' campaign against the Goths in 439 CE, in which he could not stop his Hun allies from raiding the regions they passed through). Attila was a brilliant horseman and military leader, possessed a commanding presence, and held his empire together through the strength of his individual personality. He not only made the Huns the most effective fighting force of the time, but he also built a vast empire from virtually nothing in less than ten years. At its height, this empire stretched from central Asia across to modern-day France and down through the Danube Valley. After he died in 453 CE, his sons tried to hold his empire together but failed, and it broke apart by 469 CE. (Source: www.worldhistory.org Our ignorance of the Huns is astounding. It is not even clear what language they spoke. Most of the linguistic evidence we have comes in the form of personal names - Hunnic rulers and their henchmen - from the time of Attila. But by then, Germanic had become the lingua franca of the Hunnic Empire and many of the recorded names are either certainly or probably Germanic. Iranian, Turkish, and Finn-Ugrian (like the later Magyars) have all had their proponents [for the language of the Huns], but the truth is that we do not know what language the Huns spoke and probably never will. The direct evidence we have for the motivations and forms of Hunnic migration is equally limited. According to [the ancient writer] Ammianus, there was nothing to explain 'The origin and seedbed of all evils: the people of the Huns who dwell beyond the Sea of Azov near the frozen ocean, and are quite abnormally savage.' They were just so fierce that it was natural for them to go around hitting people. Similar images of Hunnic ferocity are found in other sources (209). (Source:www.worldhistory.org))

Although in the present day, his mother's name is sometimes given as Hungysung Vladdysurf, her name is actually not known, and this name is considered a recent fabrication. His father's name was Mundzuk, and his uncle, Rugila (also known as Rua and Ruga), was king of the Huns. As a young man, Attila, and his older brother Bleda (also known as Buda), were taught archery, how to ride and care for horses, and how to fight. They were also taught Latin and Gothic to enable them to do business with the Romans and Goths. Historians are divided on how much can be said with certainty regarding Attila's early years, however, and some (such as John Man) claim that nothing is known of his early life, not even his birth name, and nothing should be inferred based on his later accomplishments. (Source: www.worldhistory.org)

Whether Rugila had sons to succeed him is not known, and Mundzuk seems to have died early in the boys' lives, so it appears that either Bleda or Attila would be Rugila's heir and succeed him as king; therefore, their education and instruction in warfare would have prepared them for the responsibilities of leadership (although some historians, such as Christopher Kelly, suggest that Attila and Bleda may have assassinated Rugila's sons on campaign to assume power and, again, Man claims no such assumptions should be made). Both boys are thought to have been present at Hun war councils and negotiations from an early age. Even before Attila became king, the Huns were a formidable fighting force, although they would become more so later under his rule. They were expert horsemen whose steeds, according to ancient reports, would actually fight for them in battle with teeth and hooves. The historian and former US Army Lt. Col. Michael Lee Lanning describes the Hun army thusly: (Source: www.worldhistory.org)



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