attila the hun

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.
—  the myth of the Sword or Attila (also called the Sword of Mars or the Sword of God). The sceptical tone is probably from the Roman historian Priscus, who was quoted by other Roman historian Jordanes. They are the only sources on this myth and had no reason to like the Huns or their stories.

Battle of Nedao, 454 AD

After Attila’s loss at the Battle of Chalons, his vast empire quickly crumbled and the civil war that followed it became the last nail in the coffin.

Attila’s Hunnic Empire at its greatest extent

Attila’s Successors and Civil Strife: Divided

Attia’s sons were Ellac (the successor of Attila’s empire), Dengizich and Ernakh. After Attila’s funeral Ellac’s brothers fought over the division of his empire and over whom they ruled over (being that Attila ruled many diverse tribes and peoples) believing that he should not be the sole ruler 

“After they had fulfilled these (funeral) rites, a contest for the highest place arose among Attila’s successors — for the minds of young men are wont to be inflamed by ambition for power — and in their rash eagerness to rule they all alike destroyed his empire. Thus kingdoms are often weighed down by a superfluity rather than by a lack of successors. 

For the sons of Attila, who through the license of his lust formed almost a people of themselves, were clamoring that the nations should be divided among them equally and that warlike kings with their peoples should be apportioned to them by lot like a family estate” Jordanes, 1:25

The Empire of the Huns and subject groups

Ardaric’s Uprising

“When Ardaric, king of the Gepidae, learned this, he became enraged because so many nations were being treated like slaves of the basest condition, and was the first to rise against the sons of Attila.

Good fortune attended him, and he effaced the disgrace of servitude that rested upon him. For by his revolt he freed not only his own tribe, but all the others who were equally oppressed; since all readily strive for that which is sought for the general advantage.”
 Jordanes 1:25

Battle of Nedao, 454 AD: Defeat 

The Battle was fought in Pannonia near the Nedao river between the Ostrogoths under Theodemir and the Gepids under Ardaric (who had been Attila’s most prized chieftain) and the Hunnic forces under King Ellac.

“They took up arms against the destruction that menaced all and joined battle with the Huns in Pannonia, near a river called Nedao. There an encounter took place between the various nations Attila had held under his sway.

Kingdoms with their peoples were divided, and out of one body were made many members not responding to a common impulse. Being deprived of their head, they madly strove against each other. They never found their equals ranged against them without harming each other by wounds mutually given. And so the bravest nations tore themselves to pieces.

For then, I think, must have occurred a most [1:26] remarkable spectacle, where one might see the Goths fighting with pikes, the Gepidae raging with the sword, the Rugi breaking oft” the spears in their own wounds, the Snavi fighting on foot, the Huns with bows, the Alani drawing up a battle line of heavy-armed and the Herui of light-armed warriors.

Finally, after many bitter conflicts, victory fell unexpectedly to the Gepidae. For the sword and conspiracy of Ardaric destroyed almost thirty thousand men, Huns as well as those of the other nations who brought them aid. In this battle fell Ellac, the elder son of Attila, whom his father is said to have loved so much more than all the rest that he preferred him to any child or even to all the children of his kingdom. But fortune was not in accord with his father’s wish.

For after slaying many of the foe, it appears that he met his death so bravely that if his father had lived, he would have rejoiced at his glorious end.”
Jordanes 1:25- 26

After the Fall: Scattered

The influence of the Huns over most of German territory collapsed immediately.

“When Ellac was slain, his remaining brothers were put to flight near the shore of the Sea of Pontus, where we have said the Goths first settled. Thus did the Huns give way, a race to which men thought the whole world must yield.

So baneful a thing is division, that they who used to inspire terror when their strength was united, were overthrown separately. The cause of Ardaric, king of the Gepidae, was fortunate for the various nations who were unwillingly subject to the rule of the Huns, for it raised their long downcast spirits to the glad hope of freedom.

Hunnic Successors: Kutrigurs, Onugurs, Utrigurs
(It is believed that they merged with the Bulgars)

Many sent ambassadors to the Roman territory, where they were most graciously received by Marcian, who was then emperor, and took the abodes allotted them to dwell in. But the Gepidae by their own might won for themselves the territory of the Huns and ruled as victors over the extent of all Dacia, demanding of the Roman Empire nothing more than peace and an annual gift as a pledge of their friendly alliance. This the Emperor freely granted at the time, and to this day [1:27] that race receives its customary gifts from the Roman Emperor.” Jordanes 1:26 - 27 

The Hun - Scourge of God AD 375-565 by By Nic Fields

“Ardaric, the King of the Gepids and former confidant of Attila, led a rebellion against Attila’s sons, finally defeating them in AD 454 at the Nedae river in Pannonia. Attila’s eldest son Ellak was killed. His surviving brothers, with the remnants of their followers, fled to the shores of the Black Sea.

Meanwhile the eastern emperor, Marcianus 
(r. AD 450-57), recognized the Gepids as allies and granted Ardaric an annual tribute to the tune of 100 pounds of gold = one twentieth of the ruinous sum his predecessor had paid Attila’s – and the former Danubian lands of the Huns.” [Jordanes]

Scourge of God by Murushierago101 

Attila, more frequently referred to as Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns from 434 until his death in 453. He was leader of the Hunnic Empire, which stretched from the Ural River to the Rhine River and from the Danube River to the Baltic Sea.

During his reign he was one of the most feared enemies of the Western and Eastern Roman Empires. He crossed the Danube twice and plundered the Balkans, but was unable to take Constantinople. He also attempted to conquer Roman Gaul (modern France), crossing the Rhine in 451 and marching as far as Aurelianum (Orléans) before being defeated at the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains.

Subsequently he invaded Italy, devastating the northern provinces, but was unable to take Rome. He planned for further campaigns against the Romans but died in 453.

There is no surviving first-person account of Attila’s appearance. There is, however, a possible second-hand source, provided by Jordanes, who cites a description given by Priscus. It suggests a person of Asian features.

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.

The Huns were a group of Eurasian nomads, appearing from east of the Volga, who migrated into Europe c. 370 and built up an enormous empire there. Their main military techniques were mounted archery and javelin throwing. They were possibly the descendants of the Xiongnu who had been northern neighbours of China three hundred years before and may be the first expansion of Turkic people across Eurasia. 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. One scholar suggests a relationship to Yeniseian.

The death of Rugila (also known as Rua or Ruga) in 434 left the sons of his brother Mundzuk, Attila and Bleda (Buda), in control of the united Hun tribes. At the time of two brothers’ accession, the Hun tribes were bargaining with Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius II’s envoys for the return of several renegades (possibly Hunnic nobles who disagreed with the brothers’ assumption of leadership) who had taken refuge within the Eastern Roman Empire.

The following year Attila and Bleda met with the imperial legation at Margus (present-day Požarevac) and, all seated on horseback in the Hunnic manner, negotiated a successful treaty. The Romans agreed to not only return the fugitives, but to also double their previous tribute of 350 Roman pounds (ca. 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 Hungarian Great 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 defences along the Danube. The Huns remained out of Roman sight for the next few years while they invaded the Sassanid Empire. When defeated in Armenia by the Sassanids, the Huns abandoned their invasion and turned their attentions back to Europe. In 440 they reappeared in force on the borders of the Roman Empire, attacking the merchants at the market on the north bank of the Danube that had been established by the treaty.

Crossing the Danube, they laid waste to the cities of Illyricum and forts on the river, including (according to Priscus) Viminacium, a city of Moesia. Their advance began at Margus, where they demanded that the Romans turn over a bishop who had retained property that Attila regarded as his. While the Romans discussed turning the Bishop over, he slipped away secretly to the Huns and betrayed the city to them.

While the Huns attacked city-states along the Danube, the Vandals led by Geiseric captured the Western Roman province of Africa and its capital of Carthage. Carthage was the richest province of the Western Empire and a main source of food for Rome. The Sassanid Shah Yazdegerd II invaded Armenia in 441.

The Romans stripped the Balkan area of forces needed to defeat the Vandals in Africa which left Attila and Bleda a clear path through Illyricum into the Balkans, which they invaded in 441. The Hunnish army sacked Margus and Viminacium, and then took Singidunum (modern Belgrade) and Sirmium. During 442 Theodosius recalled his troops from Sicily and ordered a large issue of new coins to finance operations against the Huns. Believing he could defeat the Huns, he refused the Hunnish kings’ demands.

Attila responded with a campaign in 443. Striking along the Danube, the Huns, equipped with new military weapons like the battering rams and rolling siege towers, overran the military centres of Ratiara and successfully besieged Naissus (modern Niš).

Advancing along the Nisava River, the Huns next took Serdica, Philippopolis, and Arcadiopolis. They encountered and destroyed a Roman army outside Constantinople but were stopped by the double walls of the Eastern capital. They defeated a second army near Callipolis (modern Gallipoli). Theodosius, stripped of his armed forces, admitted defeat, sending the Magister militum per Orientem Anatolius to negotiate peace terms. The terms were harsher than the previous treaty: the Emperor agreed to hand over 6,000 Roman pounds (ca. 2000 kg) of gold as punishment for having disobeyed the terms of the treaty during the invasion; the yearly tribute was tripled, rising to 2,100 Roman pounds (ca. 700 kg) in gold; and the ransom for each Roman prisoner rose to 12 solidi. Their demands were met for a time, the Hun kings withdrew into the interior of their empire. Following the Huns’ withdrawal from Byzantium (probably around 445), Bleda died. Attila then took the throne for himself, becoming the sole ruler of the Huns.

In 447 Attila again rode south into the Eastern Roman Empire through Moesia. The Roman army under the Gothic magister militum Arnegisclus met him in the Battle of the Utus 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 Isaurian troops of the magister militum per Orientem Zeno and protected by the intervention of the prefect Constantinus, who organized the reconstruction of the walls that had been previously damaged by earthquakes, and, in some places, to construct a new line of fortification in front of the old.

Attila returned in 452 to claim his marriage to Honoria anew, invading and ravaging Italy along the way. The city of Venice was founded as a result of these attacks when the residents fled to small islands in the Venetian Lagoon. His army sacked numerous cities and razed Aquileia completely, leaving no trace of it behind. After Attila left Italy and returned to his palace across the Danube, he planned to strike at Constantinople again and reclaim the tribute which Marcian had stopped. (Marcian was the successor of Theodosius and had ceased paying tribute in late 450 while Attila was occupied in the west; multiple invasions by the Huns and others had left the Balkans with little to plunder). However, Attila died in the early months of 453. 

A Man Named Mike

I have only three enemies.  My favorite enemy, the one most easily influenced for the better, is the British Empire.  My second enemy the Indian people is far more difficult.  But my most formidable opponent is a man named Mohandas K. Gandhi.  With him I seem to have very little influence.

Gandhi via Jack Kornfield “A Path With Heart”

Greetings my friends, and I hope this wonderful day finds you and yours well.  I had promised at least two friends Kittygory and Lzlabs that I would share this with them when I found it.  I love this quote and personally find it to be dead on the money.  Though clearly most of us will never be world leaders or spiritual guides like Gandhi, we all have “enemies” or people who trouble us.   While they can be frustrating and quite annoying, I can think of no one who even comes close to causing the amount of difficulties and conflicts in my life as does a man named Mike.  Over the years I’ve slowly learned that my world is always exactly as perfect and filled with beauty, or as cruel, random, unfair and ugly as he perceives it to be, and though it seems easier and often even justifiable to blame our problems on others or life, that line of thought or any actions arising from it will never solve them.  In this one instance it truly is all about you.  The simple fact is the world, our enemies, or anyone else will never change for us no matter how badly we may wish them to.  Tough choice though it may be, this leaves us with basically two options.  The first is to be miserable and continue to suffer at the whims and actions of “them”.  The only other albeit difficult choice is to change us, in my case a man named Mike.  As I’ve jokingly told a few friends I’m usually either one of two people.  Gandhi at which times I’m kind, tolerant, understanding and generally quite easy to get along with.  However I’m also too frequently a selfish and extremely whiny Attila the Hun.  It probably doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out which of the two is more pleasant to have around.  Fortunately Attila doesn’t write very often but he has made a few unpleasant guest appearances on my blog, and every single time venomous hurtful words have been the result.  Obviously I don’t like him very much, but the truth is that he is a part of me.  In perhaps the unkindest irony of all, he is not actually nor does he wish to be mean or cruel, he is simply sadly like so many of you, a wounded child running amok in an adult body.  At various times over the years I’ve tried to vanquish or control him, and as you’ve probably already guessed, it never worked.   As many spiritually enlightened souls have stated, you can never defeat or eliminate anger, hatred or darkness by fighting them with their own weapons.  Apparently they can however be transformed by love. I can assure you from my own personal experience that’s it’s pretty darn difficult to love someone you don’t even like, but it seems to be the only viable solution.  Today I’m willing to try.  I have no doubt that all of you have a “Gandhi” as well, you know that natural, beautiful loving child that we all inherently are.  I’m reasonably certain that many if not even most of you also have a problem child known as a man or woman named ____.  Last but not least I’d also be willing to bet that many of you are carrying a wounded Attila around with you as well.  Can we all please pause and think about it for a moment?  Is waging a perpetual war with yourself and therefore the world actually a pleasant or desirable way to live?  I think not, and I also believe that all of us, yes even that trouble maker Mike are curable and totally deserving of love.  Beginning today I’m going to work on loving him and I hope you’ll do the same for the beautiful, innocent wounded child in your life.     

Rory McCann in Attila

The BBC historical drama is a hard to find must see for Rory fans. The BBC hasn’t released it in a long time and they police the internet for copyright infringement better than anyone else out there. But you can stream it online ~ here ~
Hungary: Archeologists Discover Tomb of Attila the Hun

Budapest| Construction workers building the foundations of a new bridge over the Danube River in the Hungarian capitol, have unearthed a spectacular 6th century sepulchre. The analysis of the monument revealed that it was the burial chamber of a great hunnic leader, most likely  that of King Attila himself. “This site is absolutely incredible!” explains Albrecht…

Let’s get down to business