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Attila the Hun (c. 406–453)

Little is actually known about Attila. Most of the records about him were written by his enemies! Scholars debate on whether Attila was his name or not, and what he looked like. Even his birth-date is open to question, with some researchers suggesting an earlier date of 395 AD. What is known, is that his father was a Hun chieftain called Mundzuk, and Attila had an elder brother called Bleda.

Attila - Wikipedia

Appearance: "Short of stature, with a broad chest and a large head; his eyes were small, his beard thin and sprinkled with grey; and he had a flat nose and tanned skin, showing evidence of his origin." (Priscus - 5th-century Roman diplomat.)

The Huns of the Eurasian steppes

Huns were people from Eastern Europe and Central Asia, noted for their horsemanship and experience in warfare. They had created a large empire which collided with the boundaries of the Eastern Roman Empire (the Roman Empire was divided into Latin West and Greek East by the time of Attila). It wouldn't be long before the Huns and the Romans clashed in battle...

Theodosian Walls of Constantinople

The Huns had already been fighting the Romans before Attila came to power. Their leader, Rugila, had been getting closer and closer to Constantinople, making the Romans nervous (so much so, they paid tribute to the Hunnic Kingdom for peace). Rugila died in around 434, and Attila and his brother Bleda were put in charge of the united tribes. Emperor Theodosius II recognized the threat of the Huns and had great walls built around Constantinople. When Bleda died (around 445), Attila became sole king of the Huns...

447-453 AD - spreading fear throughout Europe

Attila was restless. His forces invaded the Eastern Roman Empire in 447 and although they failed to take Constantinople, they conquered the surrounding lands. Attila then turned his eye toward Gaul (modern France) and his half-a-million strong army rampaged throughout the country. However, in 451, Attila failed to win the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains (against the Western Roman Empire and Visigoths). Attila retreated across the Rhine, but he wasn't finished yet...

The extent of Attila's Empire

Regardless of events in Gaul, Attila turned his attention to the Western Roman Empire. The Roman Emperor's sister, Justa Grata Honoria, had offered Attila her hand in marriage in return for saving her from marriage to a senator. Attila expected half the Western Roman Empire as a dowry, which Emperor Valentinian III unsurprisingly refused. Attila decided to use force in his claim...

Invasion...and death

The Huns invaded Italy and got as far as the River Po (northern Italy). However, the Romans managed to negotiate peace, which Attila had to accept because of the lack of food, disease spreading in his forces and from the threat of an Eastern Roman army attacking his homelands. Attila went back to his palace (near the Danube) and died in 453, before he could carry out his plan to attack the Eastern Roman Empire again. He choked to death at his own marriage celebration!

Dan the Info-man
The dominance of the Huns was destroyed at the Battle of Nedao in 454, when they were beaten by the Germanic king, Ardaric.
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