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The Huns were a
nomadic people A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation which regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherers, pastoral nomads (owning livestock), and tink ...
who lived in
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in which stretches from the in the west to and in the east, and from and in the south to in the north, including the former of , , , , and . It is also colloquially referred to as "the stans" as the countries all ...

Central Asia
, the
Caucasus The Caucasus (), or Caucasia (), is a region spanning Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the of Eurasia, it shares the contin ...
, and
Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because the term has a wide range of , geographical, ethnic, cultural, and connotations. , located in Eastern Europe, is both the ...

Eastern Europe
between the 4th and 6th century AD. According to European tradition, they were first reported living east of the
Volga River The Volga (; russian: Во́лга, a=Ru-Волга.ogg, p=ˈvoɫɡə) is the longest river in Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rat ...
, in an area that was part of
Scythia lands (shown in orange) c. 170 BC Scythia (, ; from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ) was a region of Central Eurasia in classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultur ...
at the time; the Huns' arrival is associated with the migration westward of an
Iranian people The Iranian peoples or Iranic peoples are a diverse Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern ...
, the
Alans The Alans or Alāns (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...

Alans
. By 370 AD, the Huns had arrived on the Volga, and by 430 the Huns had established a vast, if short-lived, dominion in Europe, conquering the
Goths The Goths ( got, 𐌲𐌿𐍄𐌸𐌹𐌿𐌳𐌰, translit=''Gutþiuda''; la, Gothi) were a Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern ...
and many other
Germanic peoples The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe and Scandinavia. Since the 19th century, they have traditionally been defined by the use of ancient and early medieval Germanic languages and are thus equated at lea ...

Germanic peoples
living outside of Roman borders, and causing many others to flee into Roman territory. The Huns, especially under their King
Attila Attila (; ), frequently called Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns The Huns were a nomadic people who lived in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe between the 4th and 6th century AD. According to European tradition, ...

Attila
, made frequent and devastating raids into the
Eastern Roman Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Eastern Roman Empire
. In 451, the Huns invaded the
Western Roman The Western Roman Empire comprises the western provinces of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republic ...

Western Roman
province of
Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rat ...

Gaul
, where they fought a combined army of Romans and
Visigoths The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European t ...
at the
Battle of the Catalaunian Fields The Battle of the Catalaunian Plains (or Fields), also called the Battle of the Campus Mauriacus, Battle of Châlons, Battle of Troyes or the Battle of Maurica, took place on June 20, 451 AD, between a coalition led by the Roman Roman or Roma ...
, and in 452 they invaded
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of Italian Peninsula, a peninsula delimited by the Alps and List of islands of Italy, several islands surrounding it, whose ...

Italy
. After Attila's death in 453, the Huns ceased to be a major threat to Rome and lost much of their empire following the
Battle of Nedao The Battle of Nedao was a battle fought in Pannonia in 454 CE between the Huns and their former Germanic vassals. Nedao is believed to be a tributary of the Sava River. Battle After the death of Attila the Hun, allied forces of the subject peoples ...
(454?). Descendants of the Huns, or successors with similar names, are recorded by neighbouring populations to the south, east, and west as having occupied parts of
Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because the term has a wide range of , geographical, ethnic, cultural, and connotations. , located in Eastern Europe, is both the ...

Eastern Europe
and Central Asia from about the 4th to 6th centuries. Variants of the Hun name are recorded in the Caucasus until the early 8th century. In the 18th century, French scholar
Joseph de Guignes __NOTOC__ Joseph de Guignes (19 October 1721 – 19 March 1800) was a French orientalist, sinologist Sinology or Chinese studies, is an academic discipline that focuses on the study of China China, officially the People's Republic of China ...
became the first to propose a link between the Huns and the
Xiongnu The Xiongnu (, ) were a tribal confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a formal ...

Xiongnu
people, who were northern neighbours of
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and 14 different countries, the in the world after . Covering an area of ap ...
from the 3rd century BC to the late 1st century AD. Since Guignes' time, considerable scholarly effort has been devoted to investigating such a connection. The issue remains controversial. Their relationships with other entities such as the
Iranian Huns The term Iranian Huns is sometimes used for a group of different tribes that lived in Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto/Dari language, Dari: , Pashto: , Dari: ), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country at the ...
and the Indian
Huna people Hunas or Huna (Middle Brahmi Brahmi (; ISO 15919 ISO 15919 "Transliteration of Devanagari and related Indic scripts into Latin characters" is one of a series of international standards for romanization Romanization or romanisation, i ...
have also been disputed. Very little is known about Hunnic culture and very few archaeological remains have been conclusively associated with the Huns. They are believed to have used bronze cauldrons and to have performed
artificial cranial deformation Artificiality (the state of being artificial or man-made) is the state of being the product of intentional human manufacture, rather than occurring naturally through processes not involving or requiring human activity. Connotations Artificiality o ...
. No description exists of the Hunnic religion of the time of Attila, but practices such as
divination Divination (from Latin ''divinare'', 'to foresee, to foretell, to predict, to prophesy') is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occult The occult, in the broadest sense, is a category of supernatural The ...

divination
are attested, and the existence of
shamans Shamanism is a religious practice that involves a practitioner (shaman) interacting with what they believe to be a spirit world through altered states of consciousness An altered state of consciousness (ASC), also called altered state of min ...

shamans
likely. It is also known that the Huns had a language of their own, however only three words and personal names attest to it. Economically, they are known to have practiced a form of
nomadic pastoralism Nomadic pastoralism is a form of pastoralism Pastoralism is a form of animal husbandry where domesticated animals known as livestock are released onto large vegetated outdoor lands (pastures) for grazing, historically by nomadic people who mo ...
; as their contact with the Roman world grew, their economy became increasingly tied with Rome through tribute, raiding, and trade. They do not seem to have had a unified government when they entered Europe, but rather to have developed a unified tribal leadership in the course of their wars with the Romans. The Huns ruled over a variety of peoples who spoke various languages and some of whom maintained their own rulers. Their main military technique was
mounted archery A horse archer is a cavalry Cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldiers or warriors who Horses in warfare, fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the most mobile of ...
. The Huns may have stimulated the Great Migration, a contributing factor in the collapse of the
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprises the western provinces of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican ...

Western Roman Empire
. The memory of the Huns also lived on in various Christian saints' lives, where the Huns play the roles of antagonists, as well as in
Germanic heroic legend Germanic heroic legend (german: germanische Heldensage) is the heroic literary tradition of the Germanic-speaking peoples, most of which originates or is set in the Migration Period (4th-6th centuries AD). Stories from this time period, to which o ...
, where the Huns are variously antagonists or allies to the Germanic main figures. In
Hungary Hungary ( hu, Magyarország ) is a in . Spanning of the , it is bordered by to the north, to the northeast, to the east and southeast, to the south, and to the southwest and to the west. Hungary has a population of 10 million, mostl ...

Hungary
, a legend developed based on medieval chronicles that the
Hungarians Hungarians, also known as Magyars ( ; hu, magyarok ), are a nation and native to (Hungarian: Magyarország) and who share a common , , and . The Hungarian language belongs to the . There are an estimated 14.2–14.5 million ethnic Hungari ...
, and the Székely ethnic group in particular, are descended from the Huns. However, mainstream scholarship dismisses a close connection between the Hungarians and Huns. Modern culture generally associates the Huns with extreme cruelty and barbarism.


Origin

The origins of the Huns and their links to other steppe people remain uncertain: scholars generally agree that they originated in Central Asia but disagree on the specifics of their origins. Classical sources assert that they appeared in Europe suddenly around 370. Most typically, Roman writers' attempts to elucidate the origins of the Huns simply equated them with earlier steppe peoples. Roman writers also repeated a tale that the Huns had entered the domain of the Goths while they were pursuing a wild stag, or else one of their cows that had gotten loose, across the
Kerch Strait The Kerch Strait (russian: link=no, Керченский пролив, uk, Керченська протока, crh, Keriç boğazı, ady, Хы ТӀуалэ) is a strait connecting the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, separating the Kerch P ...
into
Crimea Crimea; crh, Къырым, translit=Kirim/Qırım; grc, Κιμμερία/Ταυρική, translit=Kimmería/Taurikḗ is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on mos ...

Crimea
. Discovering the land good, they then attacked the Goths.
Jordanes Jordanes (), also written as Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th-century bureaucrat widely believed to be of who became a historian later in life. Late in life he wrote two works, one on Roman history and the other on the Goths. The latter, alon ...
' ''
Getica ''De origine actibusque Getarum'' (''The Origin and Deeds of the Getae oths'), commonly abbreviated ''Getica'', written in by in or shortly after 551 AD, claims to be a summary of a voluminous account by of the origin and history of the , w ...
'' relates that the Goths held the Huns to be offspring of "unclean spirits" and Gothic witches.


Relation to the Xiongnu and other peoples called Huns

Since
Joseph de Guignes __NOTOC__ Joseph de Guignes (19 October 1721 – 19 March 1800) was a French orientalist, sinologist Sinology or Chinese studies, is an academic discipline that focuses on the study of China China, officially the People's Republic of China ...
in the , modern historians have associated the Huns who appeared on the borders of Europe in the with the
Xiongnu The Xiongnu (, ) were a tribal confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a formal ...

Xiongnu
who had invaded China from the territory of present-day
Mongolia Mongolia (, mn, Монгол Улс, Mongol Uls, Mongolian script, Traditional Mongolian: '; literal translation, lit. "Mongol Nation" or "State of Mongolia") is a landlocked country in East Asia. It is bordered by Russia Mongolia–Russia ...

Mongolia
between the and the . Due to the devastating defeat by the Chinese Han dynasty, the northern branch of the Xiongnu had retreated north-westward; their descendants may have migrated through
Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a ...

Eurasia
and consequently they may have some degree of cultural and genetic continuity with the Huns. Scholars also discussed the relationship between the Xiongnu, the Huns, and a number of people in central Asia who were also known as or came to be identified with the name "Hun" or "
Iranian Huns The term Iranian Huns is sometimes used for a group of different tribes that lived in Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto/Dari language, Dari: , Pashto: , Dari: ), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country at the ...
". The most prominent of these were
Chionites Xionites, Chionites, or Chionitae (Middle Persian: ''Xiyōn'' or ''Hiyōn''; Avestan: ''Xiiaona''; Sogdian language, Sogdian ''xwn''; Zoroastrian Middle Persian, Pahlavi ''Xyon'') were a nomadic people in Transoxiana and Bactria. The Xionites ap ...
, the
Kidarites The Kidarites, or Kidara Huns, were a dynasty that ruled Bactria and adjoining parts of Central Asia and South Asia in the 4th and 5th centuries. The Kidarites belonged to a complex of peoples known collectively in India as the Huna people, Huna, ...
, and the
Hephthalites The Hephthalites ( xbc, ηβοδαλο, translit= Ebodalo), sometimes called the White Huns (also known as the White Hunas, in as the ''Spet Xyon'' and in as the ''Sveta-huna''), were a people who lived in during the 5th to 8th centuries CE. ...

Hephthalites
. Otto J. Maenchen-Helfen was the first to challenge the traditional approach, based primarily on the study of written sources, and to emphasize the importance of archaeological research. Since Maenchen-Helfen's work, the identification of the Xiongnu as the Huns' ancestors has become controversial. Additionally, several scholars have questioned the identification of the "Iranian Huns" with the European Huns. Walter Pohl cautions that
none of the great confederations of steppe warriors was ethnically homogenous, and the same name was used by different groups for reasons of prestige, or by outsiders to describe their lifestyle or geographic origin. ..It is therefore futile to speculate about identity or blood relationships between H(s)iung-nu, Hephthalites, and Attila's Huns, for instance. All we can safely say is that the name ''Huns'', in late antiquity, described prestigious ruling groups of steppe warriors.
Recent scholarship, particularly by Hyun Jin Kim and Etienne de la Vaissière, has revived the hypothesis that the Huns and the Xiongnu are one and the same. De la Vaissière argues that ancient Chinese and Indian sources used ''Xiongnu'' and ''Hun'' to translate each other, and that the various "Iranian Huns" were similarly identified with the Xiongnu. Kim believes that the term Hun was "not primarily an ethnic group, but a political category" and argues for a fundamental political and cultural continuity between the Xiongnu and the European Huns, as well as between the Xiongnu and the "Iranian Huns".


Name and etymology

The name ''Hun'' is attested in classical European sources as Greek ''Οὖννοι'' (''Ounnoi'') and Latin ''Hunni'' or ''Chuni''.
John Malalas John Malalas ( el, , ''Iōánnēs Malálas'';  – 578) was a Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late ...
records their name as ''Οὖννα'' (''Ounna''). Another possible Greek variant may be ''Χοὖνοι'' (''Khounoi''), although this group's identification with the Huns is disputed. Classical sources also frequently use the names of older and unrelated steppe nomads instead of the name ''Hun'', calling them
Massagetae The Massagetae, or Massageteans, (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its popul ...
,
Scythians The Scythians (from grc, Σκύθης , ) or Scyths, also known as Saka and Sakae ( ; egy, 𓋴𓎝𓎡𓈉 The ancient Egyptian Hill-country or "Foreign land" hieroglyph (𓈉) is a member of the sky, earth, and water hieroglyphs. A ...
and
Cimmerians The Cimmerians (also Kimmerians; Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...
, among other names. The etymology of ''Hun'' is unclear. Various proposed etymologies generally assume at least that the names of the various Eurasian groups known as Huns are related. There have been a number of proposed
Turkic Turkic may refer to: * anything related to the country of Turkey * Turkic languages, a language family of at least thirty-five documented languages ** Turkic alphabets (disambiguation) ** Turkish language, the most widely spoken Turkic language * T ...

Turkic
etymologies, deriving the name variously from Turkic ''ön'', ''öna'' (to grow), ''qun'' (glutton), ''kün'', ''gün'', a plural suffix "supposedly meaning 'people'", ''qun'' (force), and ''hün'' (ferocious). Otto Maenchen-Helfen dismisses all of these Turkic etymologies as "mere guesses". Maenchen-Helfen himself proposes an
Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, جمهوری اسلامی ایران ), is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia ...
etymology, from a word akin to
Avestan Avestan , also known historically as Zend, comprises two languages: Old Avestan (spoken in the 2nd millennium BCE) and Younger Avestan (spoken in the 1st millennium BCE). The languages are known only from their use as the language of Zoroastrian ...
''hūnarā'' (skill), ''hūnaravant-'' (skillful), and suggests that it may originally have designated a rank rather than an ethnicity. Robert Werner has advanced an etymology from
Tocharian
Tocharian
''ku'' (dog), suggesting—as the Chinese called the Xiongnu dogs—that the dog was the
totem A totem (from oj, ᑑᑌᒼ, italics=no or ''doodem The Anishinaabe The Anishinaabe are a group of culturally related Indigenous peoples resident in what are now called Canada and the United States. They include the Odawa, Saulteaux, O ...

totem
animal of the Hunnic tribe. He also compares the name ''Massagetae'', noting that the element ''saka'' in that name means dog. Others such as Harold Bailey, S. Parlato, and Jamsheed Choksy have argued that the name derives from an Iranian word akin to Avestan ''Ẋyaona'', and was a generalized term meaning "hostiles, opponents". Christopher Atwood dismisses this possibility on phonological and chronological grounds. While not arriving at an etymology ''per se'', Atwood derives the name from the Ongi River in Mongolia, which was pronounced the same or similar to the name Xiongnu, and suggests that it was originally a dynastic name rather than an ethnic name.


Physical appearance

Ancient descriptions of the Huns are uniform in stressing their strange appearance from a Roman perspective. These descriptions typically caricature the Huns as monsters. Jordanes stressed that the Huns were short of stature, had tanned skin and round and shapeless heads. Various writers mention that the Huns had small eyes and flat noses. The Roman writer Priscus gives the following eyewitness description of Attila: "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." Many scholars take these to be unflattering depictions of East Asian ("
Mongoloid Mongoloid () is an Historical race concepts, obsolete racial grouping of various people indigenous to large parts of Asia, the Americas, and some regions in Oceania. The term is derived from a now-disproven theory of biological race. In the past, ...
") racial characteristics. Maenchen-Helfen argues that, while many Huns had East Asian racial characteristics, they were unlikely to have looked as Asiatic as the Yakut or
Tungus Tungusic peoples are an ethno-linguistic group formed by the speakers of Tungusic languages The Tungusic languages (also known as Manchu-Tungus and Tungus) form a language family spoken in Eastern Siberia and Manchuria by Tungusic peoples. Many ...

Tungus
. He notes that archaeological finds of presumed Huns suggest that they were a racially mixed group containing only some individuals with East Asian features. Kim similarly cautions against seeing the Huns as a homogenous racial group, while still arguing that they were "partially or predominantly of Mongoloid extraction (at least initially)." Some archaeologists have argued that archaeological finds have failed to prove that the Huns had any "Mongoloid" features at all, and some scholars have argued that the Huns were predominantly "
Caucasian Caucasian may refer to: Anthropology *Anything from the Caucasus region **Peoples of the Caucasus, humans from the Caucasus region **Languages of the Caucasus, languages spoken in the Caucasus region ** ''Caucasian Exarchate'' (1917–1920), an ...
" in appearance. Other archaeologists have argued that "Mongoloid" features are found primarily among members of the Hunnic aristocracy, which, however, also included Germanic leaders who were integrated into the Hun polity. Kim argues that the composition of the Huns became progressively more "Caucasian" during their time in Europe; he notes that by the Battle of Chalons (451), "the vast majority" of Attila's entourage and troops appears to have been of European origin, while Attila himself seems to have had East Asian features.


Genetics

found that the Huns were of mixed
East Asian East Asia is the eastern region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and ...
and West Eurasian origin. The authors of the study suggested that the Huns were descended from Xiongnu who expanded westwards and mixed with
Saka The Saka, Śaka, Shaka, Śāka or Sacae ( ; Kharosthi The Kharosthi script, also spelled Kharoshthi or Kharoṣṭhī (Kharosthi: 𐨑𐨪𐨆𐨯𐨠𐨁) was an ancient Indian script used in Gandhara (now Pakistan and north-eastern Afg ...

Saka
s. examined the remains of three males from three separate 5th century Hunnic cemeteries in the
Pannonian Basin alt=The Roman empire in red with a land in darker red; water is in pale blue, and non-Roman land in grey, The highlighted borders of the province of Pannonia within the Roman Empire The Pannonian Basin, or Carpathian Basin, is a large basin s ...

Pannonian Basin
. They were found to be carrying the paternal haplogroups Q1a2,
R1b1a1b1a1a1
R1b1a1b1a1a1
and R1a1a1b2a2. In modern Europe, Q1a2 is rare and has its highest frequency among the
Székelys The Székelys (), sometimes also referred to as Szeklers ( hu, Székelyek, ro, Secui, german: Szekler, la, Siculi, sk, Sikuli) are a subgroup of the Hungarian people Hungarians, also known as Magyars ( hu, magyarok), are a nation and et ...
. All of the Hunnic males studied were determined to have had
brown eyes Eye color is a polygene, polygenic phenotypic character determined by two distinct factors: the pigmentation of the eye's Iris (anatomy), iris and the frequency-dependence of the scattering of light by the Turbidity, turbid medium in the Stro ...

brown eyes
and
black Black is a color which results from the absence or complete absorption of visible light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that can be visual perception, perceived by t ...
or
brown hair Brown hair is the second most common human hair color Hair color is the pigmentation of hair follicles due to two types of melanin: eumelanin and pheomelanin. Generally, if more melanin is present, the color of the hair is darker; if less mel ...

brown hair
, and to have been of mixed European and East Asian ancestry. The results were consistent with a
Xiongnu The Xiongnu (, ) were a tribal confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a formal ...

Xiongnu
origin of the Huns. In an interdiciplinary study, found no clear evidence of continuity between the Xiongnu and the Huns, and concluded that no genetic evidence suggest that the steppe component of the Huns was derived from the Xiongnu or other populations of the eastern steppe. found that the Xiongnu shared certain paternal and maternal haplotypes with the Huns, and suggested on this basis that the Huns were descended from Xiongnu, who they in turn suggested were descended from Scytho-Siberians.


History


Before Attila

The Romans became aware of the Huns when the latter's invasion of the
Pontic steppes Pontic, from the Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 millio ...
forced thousands of Goths to move to the Lower Danube to seek refuge in the Roman Empire in 376. The Huns conquered the
Alans The Alans or Alāns (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...

Alans
, most of the
Greuthungi 250px, The Greuthungi (also spelled Greutungi) were a Gothic people who lived on the Pontic steppe between the Dniester and Don rivers in what is now Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraina, ) is a country in Eastern Europe. ...
or Eastern Goths, and then most of the
Thervingi The Thervingi, Tervingi, or Teruingi (sometimes pluralised Tervings or Thervings) were a Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and languages *Goths or Gothic people, the ethnonym of a group of East Germanic tribes **Gothic language, a ...
or Western Goths, with many fleeing into the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
. In 395 the Huns began their first large-scale attack on the Eastern Roman Empire. Huns attacked in Thrace, overran
Armenia Armenia (; hy, Հայաստան, translit=Hayastan, ), officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is ...

Armenia
, and pillaged
Cappadocia Cappadocia (; also ''Capadocia''; tr, Kapadokya, grc, label=Ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past events
. They entered parts of
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
, threatened
Antioch Antioch on the Orontes (; grc, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου, ''Antiókheia hē epì Oróntou''; also Syrian Antioch) grc-koi, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου; or Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Δάφνῃ ...
, and passed through the province of Euphratesia. At the same time, the Huns invaded the
Sasanian Empire The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians (, ''Iran (word), Ērānshahr''), and also called the Neo-Persian Empire by historians, was the last Persian Empire, Persian imperial dynasty before the spread of I ...

Sasanian Empire
. This invasion was initially successful, coming close to the capital of the empire at
Ctesiphon Ctesiphon ( ; Middle Persian: 𐭲𐭩𐭮𐭯𐭥𐭭 ''tyspwn'' or ''tysfwn''; fa, تیسفون; grc-gre, Κτησιφῶν, ; syr, ܩܛܝܣܦܘܢThomas A. Carlson et al., “Ctesiphon — ܩܛܝܣܦܘܢ ” in The Syriac Gazetteer last modi ...

Ctesiphon
; however, they were defeated badly during the
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
counterattack. During their brief diversion from the
Eastern Roman The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages ...
Empire, the Huns may have threatened tribes further west.
Uldin Uldin, also spelled Huldin (died before 412) is the first ruler of the Huns The Huns were a nomadic people who lived in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe between the 4th and 6th century AD. According to European tradition, they w ...
, the first Hun identified by name in contemporary sources, headed a group of Huns and Alans fighting against Radagaisus in defense of Italy. Uldin was also known for defeating Gothic rebels giving trouble to the East Romans around the Danube and beheading the Goth
Gainas Gainas was a Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and languages *Goths or Gothic people, the ethnonym of a group of East Germanic tribes **Gothic language, an extinct East Germanic language spoken by the Goths **Crimean Gothic, the G ...
around 400–401. The East Romans began to feel the pressure from Uldin's Huns again in 408. Uldin crossed the Danube and pillaged Thrace. The East Romans tried to buy Uldin off, but his sum was too high so they instead bought off Uldin's subordinates. This resulted in many desertions from Uldin's group of Huns. Uldin himself escaped back across the Danube, after which he is not mentioned again. Hunnish mercenaries are mentioned on several occasions being employed by the East and West Romans, as well as the Goths, during the late 4th and 5th century. In 433 some parts of
Pannonia Pannonia (, ) was a Roman province, province of the Roman Empire bounded on the north and east by the Danube, coterminous westward with Noricum and upper Roman Italy, Italy, and southward with Dalmatia (Roman province), Dalmatia and upper Moesia ...

Pannonia
were ceded to them by
Flavius Aetius Flavius Aetius (spelled also Aëtius; ; c. 391 – 454) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened t ...
, the
magister militum 300px, The original command structure of the Late Roman army, with a separate ''magister equitum'' and a ''magister peditum'' in place of the later overall ''magister militum'' in the command structure of the army of the Western Roman Empire. (L ...
of the
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprises the western provinces of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican ...

Western Roman Empire
.


Under Attila

From 434 the brothers
Attila Attila (; ), frequently called Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns The Huns were a nomadic people who lived in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe between the 4th and 6th century AD. According to European tradition, ...

Attila
and
Bleda Bleda () was a Huns, Hunnic ruler, the brother of Attila the Hun. As nephews to Rugila, Attila and his elder brother Bleda succeeded him to the throne. Bleda's reign lasted for eleven years until his death. While it has been speculated by Jordanes ...

Bleda
ruled the Huns together. Attila and Bleda were as ambitious as their uncle
Rugila Rugila or Ruga (also Ruas; died second half of the 430s AD),Lee, A.D. (2013) ''From Rome to Byzantium AD 363 to 565: The Transformation of Ancient Rome''. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press Edinburgh University Press is a scholarly publisher ...
. In 435 they forced the Eastern Roman Empire to sign the Treaty of Margus, giving the Huns trade rights and an annual tribute from the Romans. When the Romans breached the treaty in 440, Attila and Bleda attacked Castra Constantias, a Roman fortress and marketplace on the banks of the
Danube The Danube ( ; ) is the List of rivers of Europe#Longest rivers, second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga in Russia. It flows through much of Central Europe, Central and Southeastern Europe, from the Black Forest into the Black Sea. It ...

Danube
. War broke out between the Huns and Romans, and the Huns overcame a weak
Roman army The Roman army (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in ...

Roman army
to raze the cities of Margus,
Singidunum Singidunum ( sr, Сингидунум/''Singidunum'') was an ancient city which later evolved into modern Belgrade Belgrade ( ; sr-cyr, Београд, Beograd, lit='White City', ; names in other languages) is the capital Capital most c ...
and
Viminacium Viminacium (VIMINACIUM) or ''Viminatium'' was a major city (provincial capital) and military camp of the Roman Empire, Roman province of Moesia (today's Serbia), and the capital of ''Moesia Superior'' (hence once Metropolitan archbishopric, now a ...
. Although a truce was concluded in 441, two years later
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germa ...

Constantinople
again failed to deliver the tribute and war resumed. In the following campaign, Hun armies approached Constantinople and sacked several cities before defeating the Romans at the
Battle of Chersonesus
Battle of Chersonesus
. The Eastern Roman Emperor
Theodosius II Theodosius II ( grc-gre, Θεοδόσιος ; 10 April 401 – 28 July 450), commonly called Theodosius the Younger, was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial pe ...
gave in to Hun demands and in autumn 443 signed the Peace of Anatolius with the two Hun kings. Bleda died in 445, and Attila became the sole ruler of the Huns. In 447, Attila invaded the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rathe ...

Balkans
and Thrace. The war came to an end in 449 with an agreement in which the Romans agreed to pay Attila an annual tribute of 2100 pounds of gold. Throughout their raids on the Eastern Roman Empire, the Huns had maintained good relations with the Western Empire. However, Honoria, sister of the Western Roman Emperor
Valentinian III Valentinian III ( la, Placidus Valentinianus; 2 July 41916 March 455) was Roman emperor in the Western Roman Empire, West from 425 to 455. Made emperor in childhood, his reign over the Roman Empire was one of the longest, but was dominated by powe ...
, sent Attila a ring and requested his help to escape her betrothal to a senator. Attila claimed her as his bride and half the
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprises the western provinces of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican ...

Western Roman Empire
as dowry. Additionally, a dispute arose about the rightful heir to a king of the
Salian Franks The Salian Franks, also called the Salians (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
. In 451, Attila's forces entered
Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rat ...

Gaul
. Once in Gaul, the Huns first attacked
Metz Metz ( , , lat, Divodurum Mediomatricorum, then ) is a city in northeast France located at the confluence of the Moselle (river), Moselle and the Seille (Moselle), Seille rivers. Metz is the Prefectures in France, prefecture of the Moselle (de ...

Metz
, then their armies continued westward, passing both Paris and
Troyes Troyes () is a Communes of France, commune and the capital of the Departments of France, department of Aube in the Grand Est region of north-central France. It is located on the Seine river about south-east of Paris. Troyes is situated within ...
to lay siege to
Orléans Orléans (;"Orleans"
(US) and
,
.
Flavius Aetius Flavius Aetius (spelled also Aëtius; ; c. 391 – 454) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened t ...
was given the duty of relieving Orléans by Emperor Valentinian III. A combined army of Roman and
Visigoths The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European t ...
then defeated the Huns at the
Battle of the Catalaunian Plains The Battle of the Catalaunian Plains (or Fields), also called the Battle of the Campus Mauriacus, Battle of Châlons, Battle of Troyes or the Battle of Maurica, took place on June 20, 451 AD, between a coalition led by the Roman Roman or Ro ...
. The following year, Attila renewed his claims to Honoria and territory in the Western Roman Empire. Leading his army across the Alps and into Northern Italy, he sacked and razed a number of cities. Hoping to avoid the sack of Rome, Emperor Valentinian III sent three envoys, the high civilian officers Gennadius Avienus and Trigetius, as well as
Pope Leo I Pope Leo I ( 400 – 10 November 461), also known as Leo the Great, was bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authori ...

Pope Leo I
, who met Attila at
Mincio The Mincio (; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in rel ...

Mincio
in the vicinity of
Mantua Mantua ( ; it, Mantova ; Lombard language, Lombard and la, Mantua) is a city and ''comune'' in Lombardy, Italy, and capital of the Province of Mantua, province of the same name. In 2016, Mantua was designated as the Italian Capital of Culture ...

Mantua
, and obtained from him the promise that he would withdraw from Italy and negotiate peace with the emperor. The new Eastern Roman Emperor
Marcian Marcian (; la, Marcianus, link=no; grc-gre, Μαρκιανός, link=no ; 392 – 27 January 457) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a ...

Marcian
then halted tribute payments, resulting in Attila planning to attack Constantinople. However, in 453 Attila died of a haemorrhage on his wedding night.


After Attila

After Attila's death in 453, the Hunnic Empire faced an internal power struggle between its vassalized Germanic peoples and the Hunnic ruling body. Led by Ellak, Attila's favored son and ruler of the Akatziri, the Huns engaged the Gepids, Gepid king Ardaric at the
Battle of Nedao The Battle of Nedao was a battle fought in Pannonia in 454 CE between the Huns and their former Germanic vassals. Nedao is believed to be a tributary of the Sava River. Battle After the death of Attila the Hun, allied forces of the subject peoples ...
, who led a coalition of Germanic Peoples to overthrow Hunnic imperial authority. The Amali dynasty, Amali Goths would revolt the same year under Valamir, allegedly defeating the Huns in a separate engagement. However, this did not result in the complete collapse of Hunnic power in the Carpathian region, but did result in the loss of many of their Germanic vassals. At the same time, the Huns were also dealing with the arrival of more Oghur (tribe), Oghur Turkic languages, Turkic-speaking peoples from the East, including the Oghur (tribe), Oghurs, Saragurs, Onogurs, and the Sabirs. In 463, the Saragurs defeated the Akatziri, or Akatir Huns, and asserted dominance in the Pontic region. The western Huns under Dengizich experienced difficulties in 461, when they were defeated by Valamir in a war against the Sadages, a people allied with the Huns. His campaigning was also met with dissatisfaction from Ernak, ruler of the Akatziri Huns, who wanted to focus on the incoming Oghur speaking peoples. Dengzich attacked the Romans in 467, without the assistance of Ernak. He was surrounded by the Romans and besieged, and came to an agreement that they would surrender if they were given land and his starving forces given food. During the negotiations, a Hun in service of the Romans named Chelchel persuaded the enemy Goths to attack their Hun overlords. The Romans, under their General Aspar and with the help of his bucellarii, then attacked the quarreling Goths and Huns, defeating them. In 469, Dengizich was defeated and killed in Thrace. After Dengizich's death, the Huns seem to have been absorbed by other ethnic groups such as the Bulgars. Kim, however, argues that the Huns continued under Ernak, becoming the Kutrigurs, Kutrigur and Utigurs, Utigur Hunno-Bulgars. This conclusion is still subject to some controversy. Some scholars also argue that another group identified in ancient sources as Huns, the North Caucasian Huns, were genuine Huns. The rulers of various post-Hunnic steppe peoples are known to have claimed descent from Attila in order to legitimize their right to the power, and various steppe peoples were also called "Huns" by Western and Byzantine sources from the fourth century onward.


Lifestyle and economy


Pastoral nomadism

The Huns have traditionally been described as Nomad#Pastoralism, pastoral nomads, living off of herding and moving from pasture to pasture to graze their animals. Hyun Jin Kim, however, holds the term "nomad" to be misleading:
[T]he term 'nomad', if it denotes a wandering group of people with no clear sense of territory, cannot be applied wholesale to the Huns. All the so-called 'nomads' of Eurasian steppe history were peoples whose territory/territories were usually clearly defined, who as pastoralists moved about in search of pasture, but within a fixed territorial space.
Maenchen-Helfen notes that pastoral nomads (or "seminomads") typically alternate between summer pastures and winter quarters: while the pastures may vary, the winter quarters always remained the same. This is, in fact, what Jordanes writes of the Hunnic Altziagiri tribe: they pastured near Chersonesus, Cherson on the
Crimea Crimea; crh, Къырым, translit=Kirim/Qırım; grc, Κιμμερία/Ταυρική, translit=Kimmería/Taurikḗ is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on mos ...

Crimea
and then wintered further north, with Maenchen-Helfen holding the Syvash as a likely location. Ancient sources mention that the Huns' herds consisted of various animals, including cattle, horses, and goats; sheep, though unmentioned in ancient sources, "are more essential to the steppe nomad even than horses" and must have been a large part of their herds. Additionally, Maenchen-Helfen argues that the Huns may have kept small herds of Bactrian camels in the part of their territory in modern Romania and Ukraine, something attested for the Sarmatians. Ammianus Marcellinus says that the majority of the Huns' diet came from the meat of these animals, with Maenchen-Helfen arguing, on the basis of what is known of other steppe nomads, that they likely mostly ate mutton, along with sheep's cheese and milk. They also "certainly" ate horse meat, drank mare's milk, and likely made cheese and kumis. In times of starvation, they may have boiled their horses' blood for food. Ancient sources uniformly deny that the Huns practiced any sort of agriculture. Thompson, taking these accounts at their word, argues that "[w]ithout the assistance of the settled agricultural population at the edge of the steppe they could not have survived". He argues that the Huns were forced to supplement their diet by hunting and gathering. Maenchen-Helfen, however, notes that archaeological finds indicate that various steppe nomad populations did grow grain; in particular, he identifies a find at Kunya Uaz in Khwarezm on the Ob River of agriculture among a people who practiced artificial cranial deformation as evidence of Hunnic agriculture. Kim similarly argues that all steppe empires have possessed both pastoralist and sedentary populations, classifying the Huns as "agro-pastoralist".


Horses and transportation

As a nomadic people, the Huns spent a great deal of time riding horses: Ammianus claimed that the Huns "are almost glued to their horses", Zosimus claimed that they "live and sleep on their horses", and Sidonius claimed that "[s]carce had an infant learnt to stand without his mother's aid when a horse takes him on his back". They appear to have spent so much time riding that they walked clumsily, something observed in other nomadic groups. Roman sources characterize the Hunnic horses as ugly. It is not possible to determine the exact breed of horse the Huns used, despite relatively good Roman descriptions. Sinor believes that it was likely a breed of Mongolian pony. However, horse remains are absent from all identified Hun burials. Based on anthropological descriptions and archaeological finds of other nomadic horses, Maenchen-Helfen believes that they rode mostly geldings. Besides horses, ancient sources mention that the Huns used wagons for transportation, which Maenchen-Helfen believes were primarily used to transport their tents, booty, and the old people, women, and children.


Economic relations with the Romans

The Huns received a large amount of gold from the Romans, either in exchange for fighting for them as mercenaries or as tribute. Raiding and looting also furnished the Huns with gold and other valuables. Denis Sinor has argued that at the time of Attila, the Hunnic economy became almost entirely dependent on plunder and tribute from the Roman provinces. Civilians and soldiers captured by the Huns might also be ransomed back, or else sold to Roman slave dealers as slaves. The Huns themselves, Maenchen-Helfen argued, had little use for slaves due to their nomadic pastoralist lifestyle. More recent scholarship, however, has demonstrated that pastoral nomadists are actually more likely to use slave labor than sedentary societies: the slaves would have been used to manage the Huns' herds of cattle, sheep, and goats. Priscus attests that slaves were used as domestic servants, but also that educated slaves were used by the Huns in positions of administration or even architects. Some slaves were even used as warriors. The Huns also traded with the Romans. E. A. Thompson argued that this trade was very large scale, with the Huns trading horses, furs, meat, and slaves for Roman weapons, linen, and grain, and various other luxury goods. While Maenchen-Helfen concedes that the Huns traded their horses for what he considered to have been "a very considerable source of income in gold", he is otherwise skeptical of Thompson's argument. He notes that the Romans strictly regulated trade with the barbarians and that, according to Priscus, trade only occurred at a fair once a year. While he notes that smuggling also likely occurred, he argues that "the volume of both legal and illegal trade was apparently modest". He does note that wine and silk appear to have been imported into the Hunnic Empire in large quantities, however. Roman gold coins appear to have been in circulation as currency within the whole of the Hunnic Empire.


Connections to the Silk Road

Christopher Atwood has suggested that the purpose of the original Hunnic incursion into Europe may have been to establish an outlet to the Black Sea for the Sogdian people, Sogdian merchants under their rule, who were involved in the trade along the Silk Road to China. Atwood notes that Jordanes describes how the Crimean city of Chersonesus, Cherson, "where the avaricious traders bring in the goods of Asia", was under the control of the Akatziri Huns in the sixth century.


Government

Hunnic governmental structure has long been debated. Peter Heather argues that the Huns were a disorganized confederation in which leaders acted completely independently and that eventually established a ranking hierarchy, much like Germanic societies. Denis Sinor similarly notes that, with the exception of the historically uncertain Balamber, no Hun leaders are named in the sources until
Uldin Uldin, also spelled Huldin (died before 412) is the first ruler of the Huns The Huns were a nomadic people who lived in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe between the 4th and 6th century AD. According to European tradition, they w ...
, indicating their relative unimportance. Thompson argues that permanent kingship only developed with the Huns' invasion of Europe and the near-constant warfare that followed. Regarding the organization of Hunnic rule under Attila, Peter Golden comments "it can hardly be called a state, much less an empire". Golden speaks instead of a "Hunnic confederacy". Kim, however, argues that the Huns were far more organized and centralized, with some basis in organization of the Xiongnu state. Walter Pohl notes the correspondences of Hunnic government to those of other steppe empires, but nevertheless argues that the Huns do not appear to have been a unified group when they arrived in Europe. Ammianus wrote that the Huns of his day had no kings, but rather that each group of Huns instead had a group of leading men (''primates'') for times of war . E.A. Thompson supposes that, even in war, the leading men had little actual power. He further argues that they most likely did not acquire their position purely hereditarily. Heather, however, argues that Ammianus merely meant that the Huns didn't have a single ruler; he notes that Olympiodorus mentions the Huns having several kings, with one being the "first of the kings". Ammianus also mentions that the Huns made their decisions in a general council (''omnes in commune'') while seated on horseback. He makes no mention of the Huns being organized into tribes, but Priscus and other writers do, naming some of them. The first Hunnic ruler known by name is
Uldin Uldin, also spelled Huldin (died before 412) is the first ruler of the Huns The Huns were a nomadic people who lived in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe between the 4th and 6th century AD. According to European tradition, they w ...
. Thompson takes Uldin's sudden disappearance after he was unsuccessful at war as a sign that the Hunnic kingship was "democratic" at this time rather than a permanent institution. Kim however argues that Uldin is actually a title and that he was likely merely a subking. Priscus calls Attila "king" or "emperor" (''βασιλέυς''), but it is unknown what native title he was translating. With the exception of the sole rule of Attila, the Huns often had two rulers; Attila himself later appointed his son Ellac as co-king. Subject peoples of the Huns were led by their own kings. Priscus also speaks of "picked men" or ''logades'' (''λογάδες'') forming part of Attila's government, naming five of them. Some of the "picked men" seem to have been chosen because of birth, others for reasons of merit. Thompson argued that these "picked men" "were the hinge upon which the entire administration of the Hun empire turned": he argues for their existence in the government of Uldin, and that each had command over detachments of the Hunnic army and ruled over specific portions of the Hunnic empire, where they were responsible also for collecting tribute and provisions. Maenchen-Helfen, however, argues that the word ''logades'' denotes simply prominent individuals and not a fixed rank with fixed duties. Kim affirms the importance of the ''logades'' for Hunnic administration, but notes that there were differences of rank between them, and suggests that it was more likely lower ranking officials who gathered taxes and tribute. He suggests that various Roman defectors to the Huns may have worked in a sort of imperial bureaucracy.


Society and culture


Art and material culture

There are two sources for the material culture and art of the Huns: ancient descriptions and archaeology. Unfortunately, the nomadic nature of Hun society means that they have left very little in the archaeological record. Indeed, although a great amount of archaeological material has been unearthed since 1945, as of 2005 there were only 200 positively identified Hunnic burials producing Hunnic material culture. It can be difficult to distinguish Hunnic archaeological finds from those of the Sarmatians, as both peoples lived in close proximity and seem to have had very similar material cultures. Kim thus cautions that it is difficult to assign any artifact to the Huns ethnically. It is also possible that the Huns in Europe adopted the material culture of their Germanic subjects. Roman descriptions of the Huns, meanwhile, are often highly biased, stressing their supposed primitiveness. Archaeological finds have produced a large number of cauldrons that have since the work of Paul Reinecke in 1896 been identified as having been produced by the Huns. Although typically described as "bronze cauldrons", the cauldrons are often made of copper, which is generally of poor quality. Maenchen-Helfen lists 19 known finds of Hunnish cauldrons from all over Central and Eastern Europe and Western Siberia. He argues from the state of the bronze castings that the Huns were not very good metalsmiths, and that it is likely that the cauldrons were cast in the same locations where they were found. They come in various shapes, and are sometimes found together with vessels of various other origins. Maenchen-Helfen argues that the cauldrons were cooking vessels for boiling meat, but that the fact that many are found deposited near water and were generally not buried with individuals may indicate a sacral usage as well. The cauldrons appear to derive from those used by the Xiongnu. Ammianus also reports that the Huns had iron swords. Thompson is skeptical that the Huns cast them themselves, but Maenchen-Helfen argues that "[t]he idea that the Hun horsemen fought their way to the walls of Constantinople and to the Marne with bartered and captured swords is absurd." Both ancient sources and archaeological finds from graves confirm that the Huns wore elaborately decorated golden or gold-plated diadems. Maenchen-Helfen lists a total of six known Hunnish diadems. Hunnic women seem to have worn necklaces and bracelets of mostly imported beads of various materials as well. The later common early medieval practice of decorating jewelry and weapons with gemstones appears to have originated with the Huns. They are also known to have made small mirrors of an originally Chinese type, which often appear to have been intentionally broken when placed into a grave. Archaeological finds indicate that the Huns wore gold plaques as ornaments on their clothing, as well as imported glass beads. Ammianus reports that they wore clothes made of linen or the furs of marmots and leggings of goatskin. Ammianus reports that the Huns had no buildings, but in passing mentions that the Huns possessed tents and wagons. Maenchen-Helfen believes that the Huns likely had "tents of felt and sheepskin": Priscus once mentions Attila's tent, and Jordanes reports that Attila lay in state in a silk tent. However, by the middle of the fifth century, the Huns are also known to have owned permanent wooden houses, which Maenchen-Helfen believes were built by their Gothic subjects.


Artificial cranial deformation

Various archaeologists have argued that the Huns, or the nobility of the Huns, as well as Germanic tribes influenced by them, practiced
artificial cranial deformation Artificiality (the state of being artificial or man-made) is the state of being the product of intentional human manufacture, rather than occurring naturally through processes not involving or requiring human activity. Connotations Artificiality o ...
, the process of artificially lengthening the skulls of babies by binding them. The goal of this process was "to create a clear physical distinction between the nobility and the general populace". While Eric Crubézy has argued against a Hunnish origin for the spread of this practice, the majority of scholars hold the Huns responsible for the spread of this custom in Europe. The practice was not originally introduced to Europe by the Huns, however, but rather with the
Alans The Alans or Alāns (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...

Alans
, with whom the Huns were closely associated, and Sarmatians. It was also practiced by other peoples called Huns in Asia.


Languages

A variety of languages were spoken within the Hun Empire. Priscus noted that the Hunnic language differed from other languages spoken at Attila's court. He recounts how Attila's jester Zerco made Attila's guests laugh also by the "promiscuous jumble of words, Latin mixed with Hunnish and Gothic." Priscus said that Attila's "Scythian" subjects spoke "besides their own barbarian tongues, either Hunnish, or Gothic, or, as many have dealings with the Western Romans, Latin; but not one of them easily speaks Greek, except captives from the Thracian or Illyrian frontier regions". Some scholars have argued that Gothic language, Gothic was used as the ''lingua franca'' of the Hunnic Empire. Hyun Jin Kim argues that the Huns may have used as many as four languages at various levels of government, without any one being dominant: Hunnic, Gothic, Latin language, Latin, and Scythian languages, Sarmatian. As to the Hunnic language itself, only three words are recorded in ancient sources as being "Hunnic," all of which appear to be from an Indo-European languages, Indo-European language. All other information on Hunnic is contained in personal names and tribal ethnonyms. On the basis of these names, scholars have proposed that Hunnic may have been a Turkic languages, Turkic language, a language between Mongolic languages, Mongolic and Turkic, or a Yeniseian languages, Yeniseian language. However, given the small corpus, many hold the language to be unclassifiable.


Marriage and the role of women

The elites of the Huns practiced polygamy, while the commoners were probably monogamous. Ammianus Marcellinus claimed that the Hunnish women lived in seclusion, however the first-hand account of Priscus shows them freely moving and mixing with men. Priscus describes Hunnic women swarming around Attila as he entered a village, as well as the wife of Attila's minister Onegesius offering the king food and drink with her servants. Priscus was able to enter the tent of Attila's chief wife, Kreka, Hereca, without difficulty. Priscus also attests that the widow of Attila's brother Bleda was in command of a village that the Roman ambassadors rode through: her territory may have included a larger area. Thompson notes that other steppe peoples such as the Utigurs and the Sabirs, are known to have had female tribal leaders, and argues that the Huns probably held widows in high respect. Due to the pastoral nature of the Huns' economy, the women likely had a large degree of authority over the domestic household.


Religion

Almost nothing is known about the religion of the Huns. Roman writer Ammianus Marcellinus claimed that the Huns had no religion, while the fifth-century Christian writer Salvian classified them as Paganism, Pagans. Jordanes' ''Getica'' also records that the Huns worshipped "the sword of Mars", an ancient sword that signified Attila's right to rule the whole world. Maenchen-Helfen notes a widespread worship of a war god in the form of a sword among steppe peoples, including among the
Xiongnu The Xiongnu (, ) were a tribal confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a formal ...

Xiongnu
. Denis Sinor, however, holds the worship of a sword among the Huns to be apocryphal. Maenchen-Helfen also argues that, while the Huns themselves do not appear to have regarded Attila as divine, some of his subject people clearly did. A belief in prophecy and
divination Divination (from Latin ''divinare'', 'to foresee, to foretell, to predict, to prophesy') is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occult The occult, in the broadest sense, is a category of supernatural The ...

divination
is also attested among the Huns. Maenchen-Helfen argues that the performers of these acts of soothsaying and divination were likely shamans. Sinor also finds it likely that the Huns had shamans, although they are completely unattested. Maenchen-Helfen also deduces a belief in Water spirit, water-spirits from a custom mentioned in Ammianus. He further suggests that the Huns may have made small metal, wooden, or stone idols, which are attested among other steppe tribes, and which a Byzantine source attests for the Huns in Crimea in the sixth century. He also connects archaeological finds of Hunnish bronze cauldrons found buried near or in running water to possible rituals performed by the Huns in the Spring. John Man argues that the Huns of Attila's time likely worshipped the sky and the steppe deity Tengri, who is also attested as having been worshipped by the Xiongnu. Maenchen-Helfen also suggests the possibility that the Huns of this period may have worshipped Tengri, but notes that the god is not attested in European records until the ninth century. Worship of Tengri under the name "T'angri Khan" is attested among the North Caucasian Huns, Caucasian Huns in the Armenian chronicle attributed to Movses Dasxuranci during the later seventh-century. Movses also records that the Caucasian Huns worshipped trees and burnt horses as sacrifices to Tengri, and that they "made sacrifices to fire and water and to certain gods of the roads, and to the moon and to all creatures considered in their eyes to be in some way remarkable." There is also some evidence for human sacrifice among the European Huns. Maenchen-Helfen argues that humans appear to have been sacrificed at Attila's funerary rite, recorded in Jordanes under the name ''strava''. Priscus claims that the Huns sacrificed their prisoners "to victory" after they entered Scythia, but this is not otherwise attested as a Hunnic custom and may be fiction. In addition to these Pagan beliefs, there are numerous attestations of Huns Conversion to Christianity, converting to Christianity and receiving Christian missionaries. The missionary activities among the Huns of the Caucasus seem to have been particularly successful, resulting in the conversion of the Hunnish prince Alp Ilteber. Attila appears to have tolerated both Nicene Christianity, Nicene and Arianism, Arian Christianity among his subjects. However, a pastoral letter by Pope Leo the Great to the church of Aquileia indicates that Christian slaves taken from there by the Huns in 452 were forced to participate in Hunnic religious activities.


Warfare


Strategy and tactics

Hun warfare as a whole is not well studied. One of the principal sources of information on Hunnic warfare is Ammianus Marcellinus, who includes an extended description of the Huns' methods of war:
They also sometimes fight when provoked, and then they enter the battle drawn up in wedge-shaped masses, while their medley of voices makes a savage noise. And as they are lightly equipped for swift motion, and unexpected in action, they purposely divide suddenly into scattered bands and attack, rushing about in disorder here and there, dealing terrific slaughter; and because of their extraordinary rapidity of movement they are never seen to attack a rampart or pillage an enemy's camp. And on this account you would not hesitate to call them the most terrible of all warriors, because they fight from a distance with missiles having sharp bone, instead of their usual points, joined to the shafts with wonderful skill; then they gallop over the intervening spaces and fight hand to hand with swords, regardless of their own lives; and while the enemy are guarding against wounds from the sabre-thrusts, they throw strips of cloth plaited into nooses over their opponents and so entangle them that they fetter their limbs and take from them the power of riding or walking.
Based on Ammianus' description, Maenchen-Helfen argues that the Huns' tactics did not differ markedly from those used by other nomadic horse archers. He argues that the "wedge-shaped masses" (''cunei'') mentioned by Ammianus were likely divisions organized by tribal clans and families, whose leaders may have been called a ''cur''. This title would then have been inherited as it was passed down the clan. Like Ammianus, the sixth-century writer Zosimus (historian), Zosimus also emphasizes the Huns' almost exclusive use of horse archers and their extreme swiftness and mobility. These qualities differed from other nomadic warriors in Europe at this time: the Sarmatians, for instance, relied on heavily armored cataphracts armed with lances. The Huns' use of terrible war cries are also found in other sources. However, a number of Ammianus's claims have been challenged by modern scholars. In particular, while Ammianus claims that the Huns knew no metalworking, Maenchen-Helfen argues that a people so primitive could never have been successful in war against the Romans. Hunnic armies relied on their high mobility and "a shrewd sense of when to attack and when to withdraw". An important strategy used by the Huns was a feigned retreat—pretending to flee and then turning and attacking the disordered enemy. This is mentioned by the writers Zosimus and Agathias. They were, however, not always effective in pitched battle, suffering defeat at Battle of Toulouse (439), Toulouse in 439, barely winning at the Battle of the Utus in 447, likely losing or stalemating at the
Battle of the Catalaunian Plains The Battle of the Catalaunian Plains (or Fields), also called the Battle of the Campus Mauriacus, Battle of Châlons, Battle of Troyes or the Battle of Maurica, took place on June 20, 451 AD, between a coalition led by the Roman Roman or Ro ...
in 451, and losing at the
Battle of Nedao The Battle of Nedao was a battle fought in Pannonia in 454 CE between the Huns and their former Germanic vassals. Nedao is believed to be a tributary of the Sava River. Battle After the death of Attila the Hun, allied forces of the subject peoples ...
(454?). Christopher Kelly argues that Attila sought to avoid "as far as possible, ..large-scale engagement with the Roman army". War and the threat of war were frequently-used tools to extort Rome; the Huns often relied on local traitors to avoid losses. Accounts of battles note that the Huns fortified their camps by using portable fences or creating a circle of wagons. The Huns' nomadic lifestyle encouraged features such as excellent horsemanship, while the Huns trained for war by frequent hunting.Several scholars have suggested that the Huns had trouble maintaining their horse cavalry and nomadic lifestyle after settling on the Hungarian Plain, and that this in turn led to a marked decrease in their effectiveness as fighters. The Huns are almost always noted as fighting alongside non-Hunnic, Germanic or Iranian subject peoples or, in earlier times, allies. As Heather notes, "the Huns' military machine increased, and increased very quickly, by incorporating ever larger numbers of the Germani of central and eastern Europe". At the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains, Attila is noted by Jordanes to have placed his subject peoples in the wings of the army, while the Huns held the center. A major source of information on steppe warfare from the time of the Huns comes from the 6th-century ''Strategikon of Maurice, Strategikon'', which describes the warfare of "Dealing with the Scythians, that is, Avars, Turks, and others whose way of life resembles that of the Hunnish peoples." The ''Strategikon'' describes the Avars and Huns as devious and very experienced in military matters. They are described as preferring to defeat their enemies by deceit, surprise attacks, and cutting off supplies. The Huns brought large numbers of horses to use as replacements and to give the impression of a larger army on campaign. The Hunnish peoples did not set up an entrenched camp, but spread out across the grazing fields according to clan, and guarded their necessary horses until they began forming the battle line under the cover of early morning. The ''Strategikon'' states the Huns also stationed sentries at significant distances and in constant contact with each other in order to prevent surprise attacks. According to the ''Strategikon'', the Huns did not form a battle line using the method that the Romans and Persians used, but in irregularly-sized divisions in a single line, and keeping a separate force nearby for ambushes and as a reserve. The ''Strategikon'' also states the Huns used deep formations with a dense and even front. The ''Strategikon'' states that the Huns kept their spare horses and baggage train to either side of the battle line at about a mile away, with a moderate sized guard, and would sometimes tie their spare horses together behind the main battle line. The Huns preferred to fight at long range, utilizing ambush, encirclement, and the feigned retreat. The ''Strategikon'' also makes note of the wedge-shaped formations mentioned by Ammianus, and corroborated as familial regiments by Maenchen-Helfen. The ''Strategikon'' states the Huns preferred to pursue their enemies relentlessly after a victory and then wear them out by a long siege after defeat. Peter Heather notes that the Huns were able to successfully besiege walled cities and fortresses in their campaign of 441: they were thus capable of building siege engines. Heather makes note of multiple possible routes for acquisition of this knowledge, suggesting that it could have been brought back from service under Flavius Aetius, Aetius, acquired from captured Roman engineers, or developed through the need to pressure the wealthy silk road city states, and carried over into Europe. David Nicolle agrees with the latter point, and even suggests they had a complete set of engineering knowledge including skills for constructing advanced fortifications, such as the fortress of Igdui-Kala in Kazakhstan.


Military equipment

The Strategikon states the Huns typically used Mail (armour), mail, swords, bows, and lances, and that most Hunnic warriors were armed with both the bow and lance and used them interchangeably as needed. It also states the Huns used quilted linen, wool, or sometimes iron barding for their horses and also wore quilted coifs and kaftans. This assessment is largely corroborated by archaeological finds of Hun military equipment, such as the Volnikovka and Brut Burials. A late Roman ridge helmet of the Berkasovo-Type was found with a Hun burial at Concești, Concesti. A Hunnic helmet of the ''Segmentehelm'' type was found at Chudjasky, a Hunnic ''Spangenhelm'' at Tarasovsky grave 1784, and another of the ''Bandhelm'' type at Turaevo. Fragments of lamellar helmets dating to the Hunnic period and within the Hunnic sphere have been found at Iatrus, Illichevka, and Kalkhni. Hun lamellar armour has not been found in Europe, although two fragments of likely Hun origin have been found on the Upper Ob and in West Kazakhstan dating to the 3rd–4th centuries. A find of lamellar dating to about 520 from the Toprachioi warehouse in the fortress of Halmyris near Badabag, Romania, suggests a late 5th- or early 6th-century introduction. It is known that the Eurasian Avars introduced lamellar armor to the Roman army and migration-era Germanic people in the mid 6th century, but this later type does not appear before then. It is also widely accepted that the Huns introduced the Seax, langseax, a cutting blade that became popular among the migration era Germanics and in the Late Roman army, into Europe. It is believed these blades originated in China and that the Sarmatians and Huns served as a transmission vector, using shorter seaxes in Central Asia that developed into the narrow langseax in Eastern Europe during the late 4th and first half of the 5th century. These earlier blades date as far back as the 1st century AD, with the first of the newer type appearing in Eastern Europe being the Wien-Simmerming example, dated to the late 4th century AD. Other notable Hun examples include the Langseax from the more recent find at Volnikovka in Russia. The Huns used a type of spatha in the Iranic or Sasanian Empire, Sassanid style, with a long, straight approximately blade, usually with a diamond-shaped iron guard plate. Swords of this style have been found at sites such as Altlussheim, Szirmabesenyo, Volnikovka, Novo-Ivanovka, and Tsibilium 61. They typically had gold foil hilts, gold sheet scabbards, and scabbard fittings decorated in the polychrome style. The sword was carried in the "Iranian style" attached to a swordbelt, rather than on a baldric. The most famous weapon of the Huns is the Qum Darya-type composite recurve bow, often called the "Hunnish bow". This bow was invented some time in the third or second centuries BC with the earliest finds near Lake Baikal, but spread across Eurasia long before the Hunnic migration. These bows were typified by being asymmetric in cross-section between in length, having between 4–9 lathes on the grip and in the siyahs. Although whole bows rarely survive in European climatic conditions, finds of bone Siyahs are quite common and characteristic of steppe burials. Complete specimens have been found at sites in the Tarim Basin and Gobi Desert such as Niya, Qum Darya, and Shombuuziin-Belchir. Eurasian nomads such as the Huns typically used trilobate diamond-shaped iron arrowheads, attached using birch tar and a tang, with typically shafts and fletching attached with tar and sinew whipping. Such trilobate arrowheads are believed to be more accurate and have better penetrating power or capacity to injure than flat arrowheads. Finds of bows and arrows in this style in Europe are limited but archaeologically evidenced. The most famous examples come from Wien-Simmerming, although more fragments have been found in the Northern Balkans and Carpathian regions.


Legacy


In Christian hagiography

After the fall of the Hunnic Empire, various legends arose concerning the Huns. Among these are a number of Christian hagiography, hagiographic legends in which the Huns play a role. In an anonymous medieval biography of
Pope Leo I Pope Leo I ( 400 – 10 November 461), also known as Leo the Great, was bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authori ...

Pope Leo I
, Attila's march into Italy in 452 is stopped because, when he meets Leo outside Rome, the apostles Saint Peter, Peter and Paul the Apostle, Paul appear to him holding swords over his head and threatening to kill him unless he follows the pope's command to turn back. In other versions, Attila takes the pope hostage and is forced by the saints to release him. In the legend of Saint Ursula, Ursula and her 11,000 holy virgins arrive at Cologne on their way back from a pilgrimage just as the Huns, under an unnamed prince, are besieging the city. Ursula and her virgins are killed by the Huns with arrows after they refuse the Huns' sexual advances. Afterwards, the souls of the slaughtered virgins form a heavenly army that drives away the Huns and saves Cologne. Other cities with legends regarding the Huns and a saint include
Orléans Orléans (;"Orleans"
(US) and
,
,
Troyes Troyes () is a Communes of France, commune and the capital of the Departments of France, department of Aube in the Grand Est region of north-central France. It is located on the Seine river about south-east of Paris. Troyes is situated within ...
, Dieuze,
Metz Metz ( , , lat, Divodurum Mediomatricorum, then ) is a city in northeast France located at the confluence of the Moselle (river), Moselle and the Seille (Moselle), Seille rivers. Metz is the Prefectures in France, prefecture of the Moselle (de ...

Metz
, Modena, and Reims. In legends surrounding Saint Servatius of Tongeren dating to at least the eighth century, Servatius is said to have converted Attila and the Huns to Christianity, before they later became apostates and returned to their paganism.


In Germanic legend

The Huns also play an important role in
Germanic heroic legend Germanic heroic legend (german: germanische Heldensage) is the heroic literary tradition of the Germanic-speaking peoples, most of which originates or is set in the Migration Period (4th-6th centuries AD). Stories from this time period, to which o ...
s, which frequently convey versions of events from the migration period and were originally transmitted orally. Memories of the conflicts between the Goths and Huns in Eastern Europe appear to be maintained in the Old English poem ''Widsith'' as well as in the Old Norse poem "The Battle of the Goths and Huns", which is transmitted in the thirteenth-century Icelandic ''Hervarar Saga''. ''Widsith'' also mentions Attila having been ruler of the Huns, placing him at the head of a list of various legendary and historical rulers and peoples and marking the Huns as the most famous. The name Attila, rendered in Old English as ''Ætla'', was a given name in use in Anglo-Saxons, Anglo-Saxon England (e.g. Bishop Ætla of Dorchester) and its use in England at the time may have been connected to the heroic kings legend represented in works such as ''Widsith''. Maenchen-Helfen, however, doubts the use of the name by the Anglo-Saxons had anything to do with the Huns, arguing that it was "not a rare name." Bede, in his ''Ecclesiastical History of the English People'', lists the Huns among other peoples living in Germany when the Anglo-Saxons invaded England. This may indicate that Bede viewed the Anglo-Saxons as descending partially from the Huns. The Huns and Attila also form central figures in the two most-widespread Germanic legendary cycles, that of the Nibelungs and of Dietrich von Bern (the historical Theoderic the Great). The Nibelung legend, particularly as recorded in the Old Norse ''Poetic Edda'' and ''Völsunga saga'', as well as in the German ''Nibelungenlied'', connects the Huns and Attila (and in the Norse tradition, Attila's death) to the destruction of the Burgundians, Burgundian kingdom on the Rhine in 437. In the legends about Dietrich von Bern, Attila and the Huns provide Dietrich with a refuge and support after he has been driven from his kingdom at Verona. A version of the events of the Battle of Nadao may be preserved in a legend, transmitted in two differing versions in the Middle High German ''Rabenschlacht'' and Old Norse ''Thidrekssaga'', in which the sons of Attila fall in battle. The legend of Walter of Aquitaine, meanwhile, shows the Huns to receive child hostages as tribute from their subject peoples. Generally, the continental Germanic traditions paint a more positive picture of Attila and the Huns than the Scandinavian sources, where the Huns appear in a distinctly negative light. In medieval German legend, the Huns were identified with the Hungarians, with their capital of ''Etzelburg'' (Attila-city) being identified with Esztergom or Buda. The Old Norse ''Thidrekssaga'', however, which is based on North German sources, locates ''Hunaland'' in northern Germany, with a capital at Soest, Germany, Soest in Westphalia. In other Old Norse sources, the term Hun is sometimes applied indiscriminately to various people, particularly from south of Scandinavia. From the thirteenth-century onward, the Middle High German word for Hun, ''hiune'', became a synonym for giant, and continued to be used in this meaning in the forms ''Hüne'' and ''Heune'' into the modern era. In this way, various prehistoric megalithic structures, particularly in Northern Germany, came to be identified as ''Hünengräber'' (Hun graves) or ''Hünenbetten'' (Hun beds).


Links to the Hungarians

Beginning in the High Middle Ages, Hungarian sources have claimed descent from or a close relationship between the Hungarians (Magyars) and the Huns. The claim appears to have first arisen in non-Hungarian sources and only gradually been taken up by the Hungarians themselves because of its negative connotations. The Anonymous ''Gesta Hungarorum'' (after 1200) is the first Hungarian source to mention that the line of Hungary#Medieval Hungary (895–1526), Árpádian kings were descendants of Attila, but he makes no claim that the Hungarian and Hun peoples are related. The first Hungarian author to claim that Hun and Hungarian ''peoples'' were related was Simon of Kéza in his ''Gesta Hunnorum et Hungarorum'' (1282–1285). Simon claimed that the Huns and Hungarians were descended from two brothers, named Hunor and Magor. These claims gave the Hungarians an ancient pedegree and served to legitimize their conquest of
Pannonia Pannonia (, ) was a Roman province, province of the Roman Empire bounded on the north and east by the Danube, coterminous westward with Noricum and upper Roman Italy, Italy, and southward with Dalmatia (Roman province), Dalmatia and upper Moesia ...

Pannonia
. Modern scholars largely dismiss these claims. Regarding the claimed Hunnish origins found in these chronicles, Jenő Szűcs writes:
The Hunnish origin of the Magyars is, of course, a fiction, just like the Trojan origin of the French or any of the other ''origo gentis'' theories fabricated at much the same time. The Magyars in fact originated from the Ugrian branch of the Finno-Ugrian peoples; in the course of their wanderings in the steppes of Eastern Europe they assimilated a variety of (especially Iranian and different Turkic) cultural and ethnic elements, but they had neither genetic nor historical links to the Huns.
Generally, the proof of the relationship between the Hungarian language, Hungarian and the Finno-Ugric languages in the nineteenth century is taken to have scientifically disproven the Hunnic origins of the Hungarians. Another claim, also derived from Simon of Kéza, is that the Hungarian-speaking Székely people of Transylvania are descended from Huns, who fled to Transylvania after Attila's death, and remained there until the Hungarian conquest of Pannonia. While the origins of the Székely are unclear, modern scholarship is skeptical that they are related to the Huns. László Makkai notes as well that some archaeologists and historians believe Székelys were a Hungarian tribe or an Onogur-Bulgar tribe drawn into the Carpathian Basin at the end of the 7th century by the Pannonian Avars, Avars (who were identified with the Huns by contemporary Europeans). Unlike in the legend, the Székely were resettled in Transylvania from Western Hungary in the eleventh century. Their language similarly shows no evidence of a change from any non-Hungarian language to Hungarian, as one would expect if they were Huns. While the Hungarians and the Székelys may not be descendants of the Huns, they were historically closely associated with Turkic peoples. Pál Engel notes that it "cannot be wholly excluded" that Arpadian kings may have been descended from Attila, however, and believes that it is likely the Hungarians once lived under the rule of the Huns. Hyun Jin Kim supposes that the Hungarians might be linked to the Huns via the Bulgars and Avars, both of whom he holds to have had Hunnish elements. While the notion that the Hungarians are descended from the Huns has been rejected by mainstream scholarship, the idea has continued to exert a relevant influence on Hungarian nationalism and national identity. A majority of the Hungarian aristocracy continued to ascribe to the Hunnic view into the early twentieth century. The Fascism, Fascist Arrow Cross Party similarly referred to Hungary as ''Hunnia'' in its propaganda. Hunnic origins also played a large role in the ideology of the modern radical right-wing party Jobbik's ideology of Turanism, Pan-Turanism. Legends concerning the Hunnic origins of the Székely minority in Romania, meanwhile, continue to play a large role in that group's ethnic identity. The Hunnish origin of the Székelys remains the most widespread theory of their origins among the Hungarian general public.


20th-century use in reference to Germans

On 27 July 1900, during the Boxer Rebellion in Qing dynasty, China, Kaiser Wilhelm II, German Emperor, Wilhelm II of German Empire, Germany gave the order to act ruthlessly towards the rebels: "Mercy will not be shown, No quarter, prisoners will not be taken. Just as a thousand years ago, the Huns under Attila won a reputation of might that lives on in legends, so may the name of Germany in China, such that no Chinese will even again dare so much as to look askance at a German."''Weser-Zeitung'', 28 July 1900, second morning edition, p. 1: 'Wie vor tausend Jahren die Hunnen unter ihrem König Etzel sich einen Namen gemacht, der sie noch jetzt in der Überlieferung gewaltig erscheinen läßt, so möge der Name Deutschland in China in einer solchen Weise bekannt werden, daß niemals wieder ein Chinese es wagt, etwa einen Deutschen auch nur schiel anzusehen'. This comparison was later heavily employed by British and English-language propaganda during World War I, and to a lesser extent during World War II, in order to paint the Germans as savage barbarians.


See also

* Amal dynasty * List of rulers of the Huns * Nomadic empire *
Huna people Hunas or Huna (Middle Brahmi Brahmi (; ISO 15919 ISO 15919 "Transliteration of Devanagari and related Indic scripts into Latin characters" is one of a series of international standards for romanization Romanization or romanisation, i ...


Endnotes


Citations


References

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External links

* Dorn'eich, Chris M. 2008
Chinese sources on the History of the Niusi-Wusi-Asi(oi)-Rishi(ka)-Arsi-Arshi-Ruzhi and their Kueishuang-Kushan Dynasty.
''Shiji 110/Hanshu 94A: The Xiongnu: Synopsis of Chinese original Text and several Western Translations with Extant Annotations''. A blog on Central Asian history. * * {{Authority control Huns, 469 disestablishments Nomadic groups in Eurasia Migration Period Ancient Hungary Invasions of Europe States and territories established in the 370s States and territories disestablished in the 5th century Barbarian kingdoms