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  • ID: I63385
  • Given Name: ATTILA @
  • Surname: OF THE HUNS
  • Nickname: The Scourge of God
  • Sex: M
  • _UID: FEE248EDFC13E94A9EF19D5594E71600697B
  • Change Date: 13 Nov 2004
  • Note:
    Attila, called the Scourge of God (circa 406-53), king of the Huns (circa 433-53). He is called Etzel by the Germans and Ethele by the Hungarians.

    Little is known of Attila’s early life beyond the fact that he was a member of the ruling family of the Huns, a nomadic Asian people who spread from the Caspian steppes in repeated incursions on the Roman Empire. Before Attila’s birth the Huns reached the Danube River in raids against the Eastern Roman Empire; by ad 432, they had gained so much power that Attila’s uncle, the Hunnish king Roas, or Rugilas, was receiving a large annual tribute from Rome. Attila succeeded his uncle, at first sharing the throne with his brother Bleda, whom he put to death in 445. In 447 he advanced through Illyria and devastated the whole region between the Black and the Mediterranean seas. Those of the conquered who were not destroyed were compelled to serve in his armies. He defeated the Byzantine emperor Theodosius II; Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) was saved only because the Hunnish army, primarily a cavalry force, lacked the technique of besieging a great city. Theodosius, however, was compelled to cede a portion of territory south of the Danube River and to pay a tribute and annual subsidy.

    With great numbers of Ostrogoths, or East Goths, whom he had conquered, in his army, Attila invaded Gaul (451) in alliance with Gaiseric, king of the Vandals. He was met by the Roman general Flavius Aetius and defeated that same year in the great Battle of Châlons, fought near the present-day French city of Troyes; according to all accounts it was one of the most terrible battles of ancient history. The Romans were assisted by the Visigoths, or West Goths, under their king, Theodoric I (reigned 419-51). Historians of the period estimated the losses of the army of Attila at from 200,000 to 300,000 slain, a number now believed greatly exaggerated. Aetius wisely allowed the Huns to retreat, pursuing as far as the Rhine River.

    Partially recovered from the defeat, Attila in the next year turned his attention to Italy, where he devastated Aquileia, Milan, Padua (Padova), and other cities and advanced upon Rome. Rome was saved from destruction only by the mediation of Pope Leo I, who in a personal interview is said to have impressed the Hunnish king by the majesty of his presence. In 453 Attila prepared once more to invade Italy, but he died before the plan could be carried out.

    One notable result of Attila’s invasion of Italy was that some of the conquered people, notably the Veneti, of northeastern Italy, took refuge among the islands, marshes, and lagoons at the head of the Adriatic Sea and there founded a state that afterward grew into the republic of Venice.

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    Attila the Hun (c. 406-453), last and most powerful king of the European Huns, reigned from 434 until his death over what was then Europe's largest empire, which stretched from Central Europe to the Black Sea and from the Danube River to the Baltic. During his rule he was among the direst enemies of the Eastern and Western Roman Empires: he invaded the Balkans twice, encircling Constantinople in the second invasion; he marched through France as far as Orleans before being turned back at Chalons; and he drove the western emperor Valentinian III from his capital at Ravenna in 452.

    Though his empire died with him and he left no remarkable legacy, he has become a legendary figure in the history of Europe: he is remembered as the epitome of cruelty and rapacity in much of Western Europe; he is lionized as a great king in the national history of Hungary; and he plays major roles in two Norse sagas.

    Although there is little certainty, the European Huns seem to have been a western extension of the Xiongnu (Xiongn, a group of Mongolian nomadic tribes from north-eastern China and Mongolia. Establishment of the first Hun state is one of the first well-documented appearances of the culture of horseback migration in history. These tribes people achieved superiority over their rivals (most of them highly cultured) by their splendid state of readiness, amazing mobility and weapons like the Hun bow.

    Main article: Huns

    Shared kingship
    By 432, the Huns were united under Rua. In 434 Rua died, leaving his nephews Attila and Bleda, the sons of his brother Mundzuk, in control over all the united Hun tribes. At the time of their accession, the Huns were bargaining with Theodosius II's envoys over the return of several renegade tribes who had taken refuge within the Byzantine Empire. The following year, Attila and Bleda met with the imperial legation at Margus (present-day Pozarevac) and, all seated on horseback in the Hunnic manner, negotiated a successful treaty: the Romans agreed not only to return the fugitive tribes (who had been a welcome aid against the Vandals), but also to double their previous tribute of 350 pounds of gold, open their markets to Hunnish traders, and pay a ransom of eight solidi for each Roman taken prisoner by the Huns. The Huns, satisfied with the treaty, decamped from the empire and departed into the interior of the continent, 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.

    The Huns remained out of Roman sight for the next five years. In 440, they reappeared on the borders of the empire, attacking the merchants at the market on the north bank of the Danube that had been arranged for by the treaty. Attila and Bleda threatened further war, claiming that the Romans had failed to fulfil their treaty obligations and that the bishop of Margus (not far from modern Belgrade) had crossed the Danube to ransack and desecrate the royal Hun graves on the Danube's north bank. They crossed the Danube and laid waste Illyrian cities and forts on the river, among them, according to Priscus, Viminacium, which was a city of the Moesians in Illyria. Their advance began at Margus, for when the Romans discussed handing over the offending bishop, he slipped away secretly to the barbarians and betrayed the city to them.

    Theodosius had stripped the river's defenses in response to the Vandal Geiseric's capture of Carthage in 440 and the Sassanid Yazdegerd II's invasion of Armenia in 441. This left Attila and Bleda a clear path through Illyria into the Balkans, which they invaded in 441. The Hunnish army, having sacked Margus and Viminacium, took Sigindunum (modern Belgrade), and Sirmium before halting its operations. A lull followed during 442, when Theodosius recalled his troops from North Africa and ordered a large new issue of coins to finance operations against the Huns. Having made these preparations, he thought it safe to refuse the Hunnish kings' demands.

    Attila and Bleda responded by renewing their campaign in 443. Striking along the Danube, they overran the military centers of Ratiara and successfully besieged Naissus (modern Nis) with battering rams and rolling towers-military sophistication that was new in the Hun repertory-then pushing along the Nisava they took Sardica (Sofia), Philippopolis (Plovdiv), and Arcadiopolis. They encountered and destroyed the Roman force outside Constantinople and were only halted by their lack of siege equipment capable of breaching the city's massive walls. Theodosius admitted defeat and sent Anatolius to negotiate peace terms, which were harsher than the previous treaty: the Emperor agreed to hand over of 6,000 pounds of gold as punishment for having disobeyed the terms of the treaty during the invasion; the yearly tribute was tripled, rising to 2,100 pounds in gold; and the ransom for each Roman prisoner rose to 12 solidi.

    Their ambitions contented for a time, the Hun kings withdrew into the interior of their empire. According to Jordanes (following Priscus), sometime during the peace following the Huns' withdrawal from Byzantium (probably around 445), Bleda died, and Attila took the throne for himself. There is much historical speculation whether Attila murdered his brother, or whether Bleda died for another reason. In any case, Attila was now undisputed lord of the Huns, and again turned towards the eastern Empire.

    Sole ruler
    Constantinople suffered major natural (and man-made) disasters in the years following the Huns' departure: bloody riots between the racing factions of the Hippodrome; plagues in 445 and 446, the second following a famine; and a four-month series of earthquakes which levelled much of the city wall and killed thousands, causing another epidemic. This last struck in 447, just as Attila, having consolidated his power, again rode south into the empire through Moesia. The Roman army, under the Gothic magister militum Arnegisclus, met him on the river Vid and was defeated-though not without inflicting heavy losses. The Huns were left unopposed and rampaged through the Balkans as far as Thermopylae; Constantinople itself was saved by the intervention of the prefect Flavius Constantinus, who organized the citizenry to reconstruct the earthquake-damaged walls (and in some places, to construct a new line of fortification in front of the old). An account of this invasion survives: The barbarian nation of the Huns, which was in Thrace, became so great that more than a hundred cities were captured and Constantinople almost came into danger and most men fled from it. . . . And there were so many murders and blood-lettings that the dead could not be numbered. Ay, for they took captive the churches and monasteries and slew the monks and maidens in great numbers.

    - Callinicus, in his Life of Saint Hypatius

    "When evening began to draw in, torches were lighted, and two barbarians came forward in front of Attila and sang songs which they had composed, hymning his victories and his great deeds in war. And the banqueters gazed at them, and some were rejoiced at the songs, others became excited at heart when they remembered the wars, but others broke into tears those whose bodies were weakened by time and whose spirit was compelled to be at rest." Attila demanded, as a condition of peace, that the Romans should continue paying tribute in gold-and evacuate a strip of land stretching three hundred miles east from Sigindunum (Belgrade) and up to a hundred miles south of the Danube. Negotiations continued between Roman and Hun for approximately three years. The historian Priscus was sent as emissary to Attila's encampment in 448, and the fragments of his reports preserved by Jordanes offer the best glimpse of Attila among his numerous wives, his Scythian fool, and his Moorish dwarf, impassive and unadorned amid the splendor of the courtiers: A luxurious meal, served on silver plate, had been made ready for us and the barbarian guests, but Attila ate nothing but meat on a wooden trencher. In everything else, too, he showed himself temperate; his cup was of wood, while to the guests were given goblets of gold and silver. His dress, too, was quite simple, affecting only to be clean. The sword he carried at his side, the latchets of his Scythian shoes, the bridle of his horse were not adorned, like those of the other Scythians, with gold or gems or anything costly.

    "The floor of the room was covered with woollen mats for walking on," Priscus noted.

    During these three years, according to a legend recounted by Jordanes, Attila discovered the "Sword of Mars": The historian Priscus says it was discovered under the following circumstances: "When a certain shepherd beheld one heifer of his flock limping and could find no cause for this wound, he anxiously followed the trail of blood and at length came to a sword it had unwittingly trampled while nibbling the grass. He dug it up and took it straight to Attila. He rejoiced at this gift and, being ambitious, thought he had been appointed ruler of the whole world, and that through the sword of Mars supremacy in all wars was assured to him.

    - Jordanes, The Origin and Deeds of the Goths ch. XXXV (e-text) Later scholarship would identify this legend as part of a pattern of sword worship common among the nomads of the Central Asian steppes.

    Attila in the west
    As late as 450, Attila had proclaimed his intent to attack the powerful Visigoth kingdom of Toulouse in alliance with Emperor Valentinian III. He had previously been on good terms with the western Empire and its de facto ruler Flavius Aetius-Aetius had spent a brief exile among the Huns in 433, and the troops Attila provided against the Goths and Bagaudae had helped earn him the largely honorary title of magister militum in the west. The gifts and diplomatic efforts of Geiseric, who opposed and feared the Visigoths, may also have influenced Attila's plans.

    However Valentinian's sister Honoria, in order to escape her forced betrothal to a senator, had sent the Hunnish king a plea for help-and her ring-in the spring of 450. Though Honoria may not have intended a proposal of marriage, Attila chose to interpret her message as such; he accepted, asking for half of the western Empire as dowry. When Valentinian discovered the plan, only the influence of his mother Galla Placidia convinced him to exile, rather than kill, Honoria; he also wrote to Attila strenuously denying the legitimacy of the supposed marriage proposal. Attila, not convinced, sent an embassy to Ravenna to proclaim that Honoria was innocent, that the proposal had been legitimate, and that he would come to claim what was rightfully his.

    Meanwhile, Theodosius having died in a riding accident, his successor Marcian cut off the Huns' tribute in late 450; and multiple invasions, by the Huns and by others, had left the Balkans with little to plunder. The king of the Salian Franks had died, and the succession struggle between his two sons drove a rift between Attila and Aetius: Attila supported the elder son, while Aetius supported the younger1. J.B. Bury believes that Attila's intent, by the time he marched west, was to extend his kingdom-already the strongest on the continent-across Gaul to the Atlantic shore2. By the time Attila had gathered his vassals-Gepids, Ostrogoths, Rugians, Scirians, Heruls, Thuringians, Alans, Burgundians, et al.-and begun his march west, he had declared intent of alliance both with the Visigoths and with the Romans.

    In 451, his arrival in Belgica with an army said by Jordanes to be half a million strong soon made his intent clear. On April 7 he captured Metz, and Aetius moved to oppose him, gathering troops from among the Franks, the Burgundians, and the Celts. A mission by Avitus, and Attila's continued westward advance, convinced the Visigoth king Theodoric I (Theodorid) to ally with the Romans. The combined armies reached Orleans ahead of Attila, thus checking and turning back the Hunnish advance. Aetius gave chase and caught the Huns at a place usually assumed to be near Chalons-en-Champagne. The two armies clashed in the Battle of Chalons, which ended with a victory for the Gothic-Roman alliance, though Theodoric was killed in the fighting. Attila withdrew beyond the border, and the alliance quickly disbanded.

    Invasion of Italy and death
    Attila returned in 452 to claim his marriage to Honoria anew, invading and ravaging Italy along the way; his army sacked numerous cities and razed Aquileia completely, leaving no trace of it behind. Valentinian fled from Ravenna to Rome; Aetius remained in the field but lacked the strength to offer battle. Attila finally halted at the Po, where he met an embassy including the prefect Trigetius, the consul Aviennus, and Pope Leo I. After the meeting he turned his army back, having claimed neither Honoria's hand nor the territories he desired.

    Several explanations for his actions have been proffered. The plague and famine which coincided with his invasion may have caused his army to weaken, or the troops that Marcian sent across the Danube may have given him reason to retreat, or perhaps both. Priscus reports that superstitious fear of the fate of Alaric-who died shortly after sacking Rome in 410-gave the Hun pause. Prosper of Aquitaine's pious "fable which has been represented by the pencil of Raphael and the chisel of Algardi" (so Gibbon) says that the Pope, aided by Saint Peter and Saint Paul, convinced him to turn away from the city.

    Whatever his reasons, Attila left Italy and returned to his palace across the Danube. From there he planned to strike at Constantinople again and reclaim the tribute which Marcian had cut off. However, he died in the early months of 453; the conventional account, from Priscus, says that on the night after a feast celebrating his latest marriage (to a Goth named Ildico), he suffered a severe nosebleed and choked to death. His warriors, upon discovering his death, mourned him by cutting off their hair and gashing themselves with their swords so that, says Jordanes, "the greatest of all warriors should be mourned with no feminine lamentations and with no tears, but with the blood of men." He was buried in a triple coffin-of gold, silver, and iron-with the spoils of his conquest, and his funeral party was killed to keep his burial place secret. After his death, he lived on as a legendary figure: the characters of Etzel in the Nibelungenlied and Atli in the Volsunga saga were both loosely based on his life.

    (An alternate story of his death, first recorded eighty years after the fact by the Roman chronicler Count Marcellinus, reports: "Attila rex Hunnorum Europae orbator provinciae noctu mulieris manu cultroque confoditur." ("Attila, King of the Huns and ravager of the provinces of Europe, was pierced by the hand and blade of his wife.")4 The Volsunga saga, probably following this story, claims that King Atli died at the hands of his wife Gudrun.5 Most scholars reject these accounts as no more than romantic fables, preferring instead the version given by Attila's contemporary Priscus.) His sons Ellak (his appointed successor), Dengizik, and Ernak fought over his legacy and, divided, were defeated and scattered the following year in the Battle of Nedao. Attila's empire did not outlast him.

    Appearance, character, and name
    The main source for information on Attila is Priscus, a historian who traveled with Maximin on an embassy from Theodosius II in 448. He describes the village the nomadic Huns had built and settled down in as the size of the great city with solid wooden walls. He described Attila himself as: "short of stature, with a broad chest and a large head; his eyes were small, his beard thin and sprinkled with gray; and he had a flat nose and a swarthy complexion, showing the evidences of his origin."

    Attila is known in Western history and tradition as the grim "Scourge of God", and his name has become a byword for cruelty and barbarism. Some of this may arise from a conflation of his traits, in the popular imagination, with those perceived in later steppe warlords such as the Mongol Genghis Khan and Tamerlane: all run together as cruel, clever, and sanguinary lovers of battle and pillage. The reality of his character may be more complex. The Huns of Attila's era had been intermingling with Roman civilization for some time, largely through the Germanic foederati of the border-so that by the time of Theodosius's embassy in 448, Priscus could identify Hunnic, Gothic, and Latin as the three common languages of the horde. Priscus also recounts his meeting with an eastern Roman captive who had so fully assimilated into the Huns' way of life that he had no desire to return to his former country, and the Byzantine historian's description of Attila's humility and simplicity is unambiguous in its admiration.

    The historical context of Attila's life played a large part in determining his later public image: in the waning years of the western Empire, his conflicts with Aetius (often called the "last of the Romans") and the strangeness of his culture both helped dress him in the mask of the ferocious barbarian and enemy of civilization, as he has been portrayed in any number of films and other works of art. The Germanic epics in which he appears offer more nuanced depictions: he is both a noble and generous ally, as Etzel in the Nibelungenlied, and a cruel miser, as Atli in the Volsunga Saga. Some national histories, though, always portray him favorably; in Hungary and Turkey the names of Attila and his last wife Ildik remain popular to this day.

    The name Attila may mean "Little Father" in Gothic (atta "father" plus diminutive suffix -la) as many Goths were known to serve under Attila. It could also be of pre-Turkish (Altaic) origin (compare it with Atatürk and Alma-Ata, now called Almaty). It most probably originates from atta ("father") and il ("land"), meaning "Land-Father". Atil was also the Altaic name of the present-day Volga river which may have given its name to Attila.

    This younger son may have been Merovech, founder of the Merovingian line, though the sources-Gregory of Tours and a later roster from the Battle of Chalons-are not conclusive.
    J.B. Bury, The Invasion of Europe by the Barbarians, lecture IX (e-text)
    Later accounts of the battle place the Huns either already within the city or in the midst of storming it when the Roman-Visigoth army arrived; Jordanes mentions no such thing. See Bury, ibid.
    Marcellinus, quoted in Hector Munro Chadwick: The Heroic Age (London, Cambridge University Press, 1926), p. 39 n. 1
    Volsunga Saga, Chapter 39

    Classical texts include:
    Priscus: Byzantine History, available in the original Greek in Ludwig Dindorf : Historici Graeci Minores (Leipzig, B.G. Teubner, 1870) and available online as a translation by J.B. Bury: Priscus at the court of Attila
    Jordanes: The Origin and Deeds of the Goths

    Recommended modern works are:
    Blockley, R.C.: The Fragmentary Classicising Historians of the Later Roman Empire, vol. II (ISBN 0905205154) (a collection of fragments from Priscus, Olympiodorus, and others, with original text and translation)
    C.D. Gordon: The Age of Attila: Fifth-century Byzantium and the Barbarians (Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 1960) is a translated collection, with commentary and annotation, of ancient writings on the subject (including those of Priscus).
    J. Otto Maenchen-Helfen (ed. Max Knight): The World of the Huns: Studies in Their History and Culture (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1973) is a useful scholarly survey.
    E. A. Thompson : A History of Attila and the Huns (London, Oxford University Press, 1948) is the authoritative English work on the subject. It was reprinted in 1999 as The Huns in the Peoples of Europe series (ISBN 0631214437). Thompson did not enter controversies over Hunnic origins, and his revisionist view of Attila read his victories as achieved only while there was no concerted opposition.

    The Battle of Chalons, also called the Battle of the Catalaunian Fields or the Battle of the Catalun, occurred on September 20, 451 between the Roman general Aetius, assisted by the Visigoths under their king Theodorid and other foederati on one side, and the Huns led by their king Attila with their allies. The actual location of this battle is not known with certainty: Hodgkin, in his Italy and Her Invaders, stated the location to be near Mery-sur-Seine, but current consensus places the battlefield at Ch lons-en-Champagne.

    Our principal source for this battle is the Gothic History of Jordanes, who admits that his work is an abridgement of Cassiodorus' own Gothic History, written between 526 and 533. However, the philologist Theodor Mommsen argued that Jordanes' detailed description of the battle was copied from the now lost writings of the Greek historian Priscus. Jordanes states that Attila was enticed by Gaiseric, king of the Vandals, to wage war on the Visigoths, while simultaneously encouraging disharmony between the Visigoths and the Roman Empire. Despite Gaiseric's intrigues, upon Attila's invasion of Gaul, Aetius was able to secure the support of Theodorid and his army, as well as many independent peoples inhabiting Gaul. A common modern explanation for this unity against Attila is that the allied powers perceived Attila as their undeniable primary threat to existence.

    Attila met no significant resistance until he reached Aureliani, present-day Orl ans. Sangiban, king of the Alans, whose realm included Aureliani, had promised to open the gates of this city to Attila, but the Romans learned of this ploy ahead of time and were able to not only occupy Aureliani in force, but force Sangiban's troops into joining the allied army. Upon meeting the Roman-led forces, Attila at first began to retreat back to his own lands, but finally decided to make a stand where the battle took place. Jordanes explains Attila's change of mind to his learning that the Patrician Aetius was present in the opposing force, and hoped that by fighting Aetius would be slain, even at the risk of his own life.

    Both armies consisted of combatants from many people. Jordanes lists Aetius' allies as including (besides the Visigoths) both the Salic and Riparian Franks, Sarmatians, Armoricans, Liticians, Burgundians, Saxons, Olibrones (whom Jordanes describes as "once Roman soldiers and now the flower of the allied forces"), and other Celtic or German tribes. Attila had with him the Gepids under their king Ardaric, as well as an Ostrogothic army led by the brothers Valamir, Theodemir -- the father of the later Ostrogothic king Theodoric the Great -- and Vidimer, scions of the Amali.

    The night before the main battle, one of the Frankish forces on the Roman side encountered a band of the Gepids loyal to Attila. Jordanes records that this skirmish left 15,000 dead on either side.

    The Catalaunian plain rose on one side by a sharp slope to a ridge, which dominated the battlefield, and became the center of the battle. The Huns first seized the right side of this ridge while the Romans seized the left, with the crest unoccupied in the between them. When the Hunnish forces attemped to seize this decisive position, they were foiled by the Roman alliance, whose troops had arrived first, and repulsed the Hunnish advance. The Hunnic warriors fled in disorder back into their own forces, thereby disordering the rest of Attila's army.

    Attila attempted to rally his forces, struggling to hold his position. Meanwhile king Theodorid, while encouraging his own men in their advance, was killed in the assault without his men noticing. Jordanes states that Theodorid was thrown from his horse and trampled to death by his advancing men, but also mentions another story exists stating Theodorid was slain by the spear of the Ostrogoth Andag. Since Jordanes served as the notary of Andag's son Gunthigis, if this latter story is not true then it is certain that this version was a proud family claim.

    The Visigoths outstripped the speed of their Alani charges them and fell upon Attila's own Hunnish household unit, forcing Attila to seek refuge in his own camp, which he had fortified with wagons. The Romano-Gothic assault apparently swept past the Hunnish camp in pursuit of the fleeing enemy troops, for when night fell and Thorismund, son of king Theodorid, was retiring to friendly lines, mistakenly entered Attila's encampment, where he was wounded in the ensuing melee before his followers could rescue him. Darkness also separated Aetius from own men, and fearing that disaster had befallen them, searched for his Gothic allies, and on finding them, with whom he spent the rest of the night.

    On the following day, finding the battle fields "were piled high with bodies and the Huns did not venture forth", the Goths and Romans held a meeting on how to proceed. Knowing that Attila was low on provisions, and "was hindered from approaching by a shower of arrows placed within the confines of the Roman camp", they decided to besiege his camp. In this desperate situation, Attila remained unbowed and "heaped up a funeral pyre of horse saddles, so that if the enemy should attack him, he was determined to cast himself into the flames, that none might have the joy of wounding him and that the lord of so many races might not fall into the hands of his foes." During the siege of Attila's camp, the Visigoths went looking for their missing king, and Thorismund, the son of their king. After a long search, they found Theodrid's body beneath a mound of corpses, and bore him away with heroic songs in the sight of the enemy. Thorismund upon learning of his father's death, wanted to assault Attila's camp, but when he first conferred with Aetius, the Patrician had different advice. According to Jordanes, Aetius feared that if the Huns were completely destroyed by the Visigoths, then the Visigoths would break off their allegiance to the Roman Empire and become an even graver threat. So Aetius advised the Gothic king to quickly return home and secure the throne for himself, before his brothers could, which would force Thorismund into a war with his own countrymen. Thorismund quickly returned to Tolosa, present-day Toulouse, and became king without any resistance. On the Visigoth's withdrawal, Attila at first believed it to be a feigned retreat to draw his battered forces out into the open to be annihilated, and so remained within his defences for some time before he risked leaving his canton and at last returning to his homelands.

    Jordanes' figure for the number of dead in this battle is 165,000, excluding the casualties of the Franko-Gepid skirmish previous to the main battle. Hydatius, a historian who lived at the time of Attila's invasion, reports the number of 300,000 dead. Both figures are suspiciously high, and modern historians suggest a number far lower.

    One cannot deny that the number of combatants in this battle was large, far larger than any battle since Adrianople in 378, or any battle over the next several centuries. The large number of men, as well as their varied origins, left a deep impression on the minds of succeding generations. Add to this the progressive demonization of the Hunnish king Attila, who is often portrayed in contemporary entertainment as a medieval version of Adolf Hitler, and it is easy to see how this battle has become a decisive encounter of the forces of Good versus Evil. However, the battle itself was not decisive. The following year Attila invaded Italy, causing much destruction, only ending his campaign after Pope Leo I met with him at a ford of the river Minicio. On Attila's sudden death in 453, the Huns quickly vanished as a threat to the rest of Europe. Nor did the Roman Empire emerge from this victory more powerful, but instead likewise weakened but only more slowly than did the Huns, despite the assassinations of first Aetius, then emperor Valentinian III, followed by the sack of Rome by Gaiseric in 455. Despite these critical losses, a generation later there were still sufficient useful remains of the Western Roman Empire for the warlords to fight over.

    The quotations from Jordanes in this article were taken from a 1915 translation by Charles Christopher Mierow of Princeton University.

  • Birth: 392
  • Death: 454

    Marriage 1 Julia Gratia Honoria
    • Married:
    1. Has Children Elak of the Huns b: 416

    Marriage 2 Kriemhilt b: ABT 410
    • Married:
    1. Has Children Bel-Kermek of the Huns b: ABT 430

    Marriage 3 Spouse Unknown
      1. Has Children Ernak of the Huns b: ABT 432

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