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Attila
Attila
(/ˈætɪlə, əˈtɪlə/; fl. circa 406–453), frequently called Attila
Attila
the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns
Huns
from 434 until his death in March 453. He was also the leader of a tribal empire consisting of Huns, Ostrogoths, and Alans
Alans
among others, on the territory of Central and Eastern Europe. During his reign, he was one of the most feared enemies of the Western and Eastern Roman Empires. He crossed the Danube
Danube
twice and plundered the Balkans, but was unable to take Constantinople. His unsuccessful campaign in Persia
Persia
was followed in 441 by an invasion of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, the success of which emboldened Attila
Attila
to invade the West.[3] He also attempted to conquer Roman Gaul
Roman Gaul
(modern France), crossing the Rhine
Rhine
in 451 and marching as far as Aurelianum (Orléans) before being defeated at the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains. He subsequently invaded Italy, devastating the northern provinces, but was unable to take Rome. He planned for further campaigns against the Romans, but died in 453. After Attila's death, his close adviser, Ardaric
Ardaric
of the Gepids, led a Germanic revolt against Hunnic rule, after which the Hunnic Empire
Hunnic Empire
quickly collapsed.

Contents

1 Appearance and character 2 Etymology 3 Historiography and source 4 Early life and background 5 Campaigns against the Eastern Roman Empire 6 Solitary kingship 7 In the west 8 Invasion of Italy
Italy
and death

8.1 Death

9 Later folklore and iconography 10 Depictions of Attila 11 Notes 12 External links

Appearance and character

" Attila
Attila
the Hun" portrait by sculptor George S. Stuart

Figure of Attila in a museum in Hungary.

There is no surviving first-hand account of Attila's appearance, but there is a possible second-hand source provided by Jordanes, who cites a description given by Priscus.[4][5]

He was a man born into the world to shake the nations, the scourge of all lands, who in some way terrified all mankind by the dreadful rumors noised abroad concerning him. He was haughty in his walk, rolling his eyes hither and thither, so that the power of his proud spirit appeared in the movement of his body. He was indeed a lover of war, yet restrained in action, mighty in counsel, gracious to suppliants and lenient to those who were once received into his protection. 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.[6]:182–183

Some scholars have suggested that this description is typically East Asian, because it has all the combined features that fit the physical type of people from Eastern Asia, and Attila's ancestors may have come from there.[5][7]:202 Other historians also believed that the same descriptions were also evident on some Scythian
Scythian
people.[8][9] Etymology The origin of the name "Attila" is unclear, and there is no consensus among scholars.[10]:177 Otto J. Maenchen-Helfen considered an East Germanic origin; Attila
Attila
is formed from Gothic or Gepidic noun atta, "father", by means of the diminutive suffix -ila,[11]:386 meaning "little father".[12] The Gothic etymology can be tracked up to Jacob Grimm
Jacob Grimm
and Wilhelm Grimm
Wilhelm Grimm
in the early 19th century.[12] Maenchen-Helfen noted that Hunnic names were "not the true names of the Hun
Hun
princes and lords. What we have are Hunnic names in Germanic dress, modified to fit the Gothic tongue, or popular Gothic etymologies, or both".[11]:389 Peter Heather, who strongly considered Germanic etymology of the name Attila
Attila
and some of noble Huns,[10]:29–30, 177 stated that the possibility Attila
Attila
was of Germanic ancestry cannot be ruled out.[13] The names of Attila's brother Bleda, and most powerful minister Onegesius, also have hypothetical Germanic etymology. The only credible Germanic etymologies are for Attila's blood relative Laudaricus,[11]:388 and the Hun-Goth Ragnaris.[11]:383, 389 Hyun Jin Kim argued that the "Germanization of Hunnic names may have been a conscious policy among the Hunnic elite in the West in order to ease the transition to their rule of formerly independent German tribal unions".[10]:93 In the Western part of Hunnic Empire, where mostly lived subjected Gothic tribes, Huns
Huns
probably spoke both Hunnic and Gothic language, and as such bore Germanized or Germanic name, like Laudaricus.[10]:30 Maenchen-Helfen also expressed concern over orthography of the writer, possible morphological change, that some names writers heard from the Goths, the tendency of Roman and Byzantine writers to alter foreign names, and manuscript corruption.[11]:381–382 However, Kim noted that those names considered by Heather to be Gothic, especially in this case of Attila
Attila
and Bleda, have more natural and probable Turkic etymology.[10]:30 Heather also ignored the fact that all Hunnic rulers before Attila, as well his father Mundzuk, paternal uncles Octar, Ruga and Oebarsius, wife Kreka, father-in-law Eskam, and sons Ellac, Dengizich and Ernak, have names of Turkic origin.[10]:30 Omeljan Pritsak considered ̕Άττίλα (Atilla) a composite title-name which derived from Turkic *es (great, old), and *t il (sea, ocean), and the suffix /a/.[14]:444 The stressed back syllabic til assimilated the front member es, so it became *as.[14]:444 It is a nominative, in form of attíl- (< *etsíl < *es tíl) with the meaning "the oceanic, universal ruler".[14]:444 Peter Golden, citing Pritsak, like László Rásonyi connected Attila's name with Menander note in which used term Attilan as the name of the Volga River
Volga River
(Turkic Atil/Itil; "great river").[15]:90[16] J.J. Mikkola
J.J. Mikkola
connected it with Turkic āt (name, fame).[12] H. Althof considered it was related to Turkish atli (horseman, cavalier), or Turkish at (horse) and dil (tongue).[12] Tom Shippey
Tom Shippey
in his work Goths
Goths
and Huns: The Rediscovery of Northern Cultures in the Nineteenth Century (1982), argued that the Gothic etymology is a product of 19th century Germanic romantic philological revisionism.[10]:177 M. Snædal casts doubt on the Germanic origin of the name Attila
Attila
in a recently published article. "The Gothic origin of the name Attila
Attila
is questionable," Snædal writes. "It is at least as likely to be of Hunnic origin". The article points out that the word atta is a migratory term for "father/forefather" common in multiple languages, including many Turkic languages
Turkic languages
(see Ata). The article also indicates that Attila's name could have originated from Turkic-Mongolian at, adyy/agta (gelding, warhorse) and Turkish atli (horseman, cavalier), meaning "possessor of geldings, provider of warhorses", a suitable name for a warlord. He concludes:

Of course we do not know how the name sounded in the language of the Huns. Sometime, somewhere, somehow a proto-form like *agtala- changed to *attila. We cannot tell if the assimilation of "gt" to "tt", and/or if loss of a final consonant took place in Hunnic or if these changes were part of the adaptation process into Latin, Gothic and Greek... Truly, our knowledge of the Hunnic language is almost zero. One can only guess a solution to this riddle of Attila's name.[12]

The name has many variants in several languages: Atli and Atle in Old Norse; Etzel in Middle High German
Middle High German
(Nibelungenlied); Ætla in Old English; Attila, Atilla, and Etele in Hungarian ( Attila
Attila
is the most popular); Attila, Atilla, Atilay, or Atila in Turkish; and Adil and Edil in Kazakh or Adil ("same/similar") or Edil ("to use") in Mongolian. Historiography and source The historiography of Attila
Attila
is faced with a major challenge, in that the only complete sources are written in Greek and Latin
Latin
by the enemies of the Huns. Attila's contemporaries left many testimonials of his life, but only fragments of these remain.[17]:25 Priscus
Priscus
was a Byzantine diplomat and historian who wrote in Greek, and he was both a witness to and an actor in the story of Attila, as a member of the embassy of Theodosius II at the Hunnic court in 449. He was obviously biased by his political position, but his writing is a major source for information on the life of Attila, and he is the only person known to have recorded a physical description of him. He wrote a history of the late Roman Empire in eight books covering the period from 430 to 476.[18] Today we have only fragments of Priscus' work, but it was cited extensively by 6th-century historians Procopius
Procopius
and Jordanes,[19]:413 especially in Jordanes' The Origin and Deeds of the Goths. It contains numerous references to Priscus's history, and it is also an important source of information about the Hunnic empire and its neighbors. He describes the legacy of Attila
Attila
and the Hunnic people for a century after Attila's death. Marcellinus Comes, a chancellor of Justinian during the same era, also describes the relations between the Huns
Huns
and the Eastern Roman Empire.[17]:30 Numerous ecclesiastical writings contain useful but scattered information, sometimes difficult to authenticate or distorted by years of hand-copying between the 6th and 17th centuries. The Hungarian writers of the 12th century wished to portray the Huns
Huns
in a positive light as their glorious ancestors, and so repressed certain historical elements and added their own legends.[17]:32 The literature and knowledge of the Huns
Huns
themselves was transmitted orally, by means of epics and chanted poems that were handed down from generation to generation.[19]:354 Indirectly, fragments of this oral history have reached us via the literature of the Scandinavians and Germans, neighbors of the Huns
Huns
who wrote between the 9th and 13th centuries. Attila
Attila
is a major character in many Medieval epics, such as the Nibelungenlied, as well as various Eddas and sagas.[17]:32[19]:354 Archaeological investigation has uncovered some details about the lifestyle, art, and warfare of the Huns. There are a few traces of battles and sieges, but today the tomb of Attila
Attila
and the location of his capital have not yet been found.[17]:33–37 Early life and background Main article: Huns

Huns
Huns
in battle with the Alans. An 1870s engraving after a drawing by Johann Nepomuk Geiger (1805–1880).

The Huns
Huns
were a group of Eurasian nomads, appearing from east of the Volga, who migrated further into Western Europe c. 370[20] and built up an enormous empire there. Their main military techniques were mounted archery and javelin throwing. They were in the process of developing settlements before their arrival in Western Europe, yet the Huns
Huns
were a society of pastoral warriors[19]:259 whose primary form of nourishment was meat and milk, products of their herds. The origin and language of the Huns
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.[14]:444 One scholar suggests a relationship to Yeniseian.[21] According to the Encyclopedia of European Peoples, "the Huns, especially those who migrated to the west, may have been a combination of central Asian Turkic, Mongolic, and Ugric stocks".[22] Attila's father Mundzuk was the brother of kings Octar and Ruga, who reigned jointly over the Hunnic empire in the early fifth century. This form of diarchy was recurrent with the Huns, but historians are unsure whether it was institutionalized, merely customary, or an occasional occurrence.[17]:80 His family was from a noble lineage, but it is uncertain whether they constituted a royal dynasty. Attila's birthdate is debated, journalist Éric Deschodt and writer Herman Schreiber have proposed a date of 395.[23][24] However, historian Iaroslav Lebedynsky and archaeologist Katalin Escher prefer an estimate between the 390s and the first decade of the fifth century.[17]:40 Several historians have proposed 406 as the date.[1]:92[2]:202 Attila
Attila
grew up in a rapidly changing world. His people were nomads who had only recently arrived in Europe.[25] They crossed the Volga
Volga
river during the 370s and annexed the territory of the Alans, then attacked the Gothic kingdom between the Carpathian mountains
Carpathian mountains
and the Danube. They were a very mobile people, whose mounted archers had acquired a reputation of invincibility, and the Germanic tribes seemed unable to withstand them.[19]:133–151 Vast populations fleeing the Huns
Huns
moved from Germania
Germania
into the Roman Empire in the west and south, and along the banks of the Rhine
Rhine
and Danube. In 376, the Goths
Goths
crossed the Danube, initially submitting to the Romans but soon rebelling against Emperor Valens, whom they killed in the Battle of Adrianople
Battle of Adrianople
in 378.[19]:100 Large numbers of Vandals, Alans, Suebi, and Burgundians crossed the Rhine
Rhine
and invaded Roman Gaul
Roman Gaul
on December 31, 406 to escape the Huns.[17]:233 The Roman Empire had been split in half since 395 and was ruled by two distinct governments, one based in Ravenna
Ravenna
in the West, and the other in Constantinople
Constantinople
in the East. The Roman Emperors, both East and West, were generally from the Theodosian family in Attila's lifetime (despite several power struggles).[26]:13 The Huns
Huns
dominated a vast territory with nebulous borders determined by the will of a constellation of ethnically varied peoples. Some were assimilated to Hunnic nationality, whereas many retained their own identities and rulers but acknowledged the suzerainty of the king of the Huns.[26]:11 The Huns
Huns
were also the indirect source of many of the Romans' problems, driving various Germanic tribes into Roman territory, yet relations between the two empires were cordial: the Romans used the Huns
Huns
as mercenaries against the Germans and even in their civil wars. Thus, the usurper Joannes
Joannes
was able to recruit thousands of Huns
Huns
for his army against Valentinian III in 424. It was Aëtius, later Patrician of the West, who managed this operation. They exchanged ambassadors and hostages, the alliance lasting from 401 to 450 and permitting the Romans numerous military victories.[19]:111 The Huns
Huns
considered the Romans to be paying them tribute, whereas the Romans preferred to view this as payment for services rendered. The Huns
Huns
had become a great power by the time that Attila
Attila
came of age during the reign of his uncle Ruga, to the point that Nestorius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, deplored the situation with these words: "They have become both masters and slaves of the Romans".[19]:128 Campaigns against the Eastern Roman Empire

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

The death of Rugila (also known as Rua or Ruga) in 434 left the sons of his brother Mundzuk, Attila
Attila
and Bleda, in control of the united Hun tribes. At the time of the two brothers' accession, the Hun
Hun
tribes were bargaining with Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius II's envoys for the return of several renegades who had taken refuge within the Eastern Roman Empire, possibly Hunnic nobles who disagreed with the brothers' assumption of leadership. The following year, Attila
Attila
and Bleda met with the imperial legation at Margus (Požarevac), all seated on horseback in the Hunnic manner,[27] and negotiated an advantageous treaty. The Romans agreed to return the fugitives, to double their previous tribute of 350 Roman pounds (c. 115 kg) of gold, to open their markets to Hunnish traders, and to pay a ransom of eight solidi for each Roman taken prisoner by the Huns. The Huns, satisfied with the treaty, decamped from the Roman Empire and returned to their home in the Great Hungarian Plain, perhaps to consolidate and strengthen their empire. Theodosius used this opportunity to strengthen the walls of Constantinople, building the city's first sea wall, and to build up his border defenses along the Danube. The Huns
Huns
remained out of Roman sight for the next few years while they invaded the Sassanid Empire. They were defeated in Armenia
Armenia
by the Sassanids, 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
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
Attila
regarded as his. While the Romans discussed the bishop's fate, he slipped away secretly to the Huns
Huns
and betrayed the city to them. While the Huns
Huns
attacked city-states along the Danube, the Vandals
Vandals
(led by Geiseric) captured the Western Roman province of Africa and its capital of Carthage. 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
Armenia
in 441. The Romans stripped the Balkan area of forces, sending them to Sicily in order to mount an expedition against the Vandals
Vandals
in Africa. This left Attila
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
Singidunum
(Belgrade) and Sirmium. During 442, Theodosius recalled his troops from Sicily
Sicily
and ordered a large issue of new coins to finance operations against the Huns. He believed that he could defeat the Huns
Huns
and refused the Hunnish kings' demands. Attila
Attila
responded with a campaign in 443.[28] The Huns
Huns
were equipped with new military weapons as they advanced along the Danube, such as battering rams and rolling siege towers, and they overran the military centers of Ratiara and successfully besieged Naissus (Niš). Advancing along the Nišava
Nišava
River, the Huns
Huns
next took Serdica (Sofia), Philippopolis (Plovdiv), and Arcadiopolis (Lüleburgaz). They encountered and destroyed a Roman army outside Constantinople
Constantinople
but were stopped by the double walls of the Eastern capital. They defeated a second army near Callipolis (Gelibolu). Theodosius, stripped of his armed forces, admitted defeat, sending the Magister militum
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 (c. 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 (c. 700 kg) in gold; and the ransom for each Roman prisoner rose to 12 solidi. Their demands were met for a time, and the Hun
Hun
kings withdrew into the interior of their empire. Bleda died following the Huns' withdrawal from Byzantium (probably around 445). Attila
Attila
then took the throne for himself, becoming the sole ruler of the Huns.[29] Solitary kingship

Mór Than's painting The Feast of Attila, based on a fragment of Priscus

In 447, Attila
Attila
again rode south into the Eastern Roman Empire
Eastern Roman Empire
through Moesia. The Roman army, under Gothic magister militum Arnegisclus, met him in the Battle of the Utus and was defeated, though not without inflicting heavy losses. The Huns
Huns
were left unopposed and rampaged through the Balkans
Balkans
as far as Thermopylae. Constantinople
Constantinople
itself was saved by the Isaurian troops of magister militum per Orientem Zeno and protected by the intervention of 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. An account of this invasion survives:

The barbarian nation of the Huns, which was in Thrace, became so great that more than a hundred cities were captured and Constantinople almost came into danger and most men fled from it. ... And there were so many murders and blood-lettings that the dead could not be numbered. Ay, for they took captive the churches and monasteries and slew the monks and maidens in great numbers. — Callinicus, in his Life of Saint Hypatius

In the west

The general path of the Hun
Hun
forces in the invasion of Gaul

In 450, Attila
Attila
proclaimed his intent to attack the Visigoth
Visigoth
kingdom of Toulouse
Toulouse
by making an alliance with Emperor Valentinian III. He had previously been on good terms with the Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
and its influential general Flavius Aëtius. Aëtius had spent a brief exile among the Huns
Huns
in 433, and the troops that Attila
Attila
provided against the Goths
Goths
and Bagaudae had helped earn him the largely honorary title of magister militum in the west. The gifts and diplomatic efforts of Geiseric, who opposed and feared the Visigoths, may also have influenced Attila's plans. However, Valentinian's sister was Honoria, who had sent the Hunnish king a plea for help—and her engagement ring—in order to escape her forced betrothal to a Roman senator in the spring of 450. Honoria may not have intended a proposal of marriage, but Attila
Attila
chose to interpret her message as such. He accepted, asking for half of the western Empire as dowry. When Valentinian discovered the plan, only the influence of his mother Galla Placidia
Galla Placidia
convinced him to exile Honoria, rather than killing her. He also wrote to Attila, strenuously denying the legitimacy of the supposed marriage proposal. Attila
Attila
sent an emissary to Ravenna
Ravenna
to proclaim that Honoria was innocent, that the proposal had been legitimate, and that he would come to claim what was rightfully his. Attila
Attila
interfered in a succession struggle after the death of a Frankish ruler. Attila
Attila
supported the elder son, while Aëtius supported the younger. (The location and identity of these kings is not known and subject to conjecture.) Attila
Attila
gathered his vassals—Gepids, Ostrogoths, Rugians, Scirians, Heruls, Thuringians, Alans, Burgundians, among others–and began his march west. In 451, he arrived in Belgica
Belgica
with an army exaggerated by Jordanes
Jordanes
to half a million strong. On April 7, he captured Metz. Other cities attacked can be determined by the hagiographic vitae written to commemorate their bishops: Nicasius was slaughtered before the altar of his church in Rheims; Servatus
Servatus
is alleged to have saved Tongeren
Tongeren
with his prayers, as Saint Genevieve
Genevieve
is said to have saved Paris.[30] Lupus, bishop of Troyes, is also credited with saving his city by meeting Attila
Attila
in person.[3][31] Aëtius moved to oppose Attila, gathering troops from among the Franks, the Burgundians, and the Celts. A mission by Avitus
Avitus
and Attila's continued westward advance convinced the Visigoth
Visigoth
king Theodoric I (Theodorid) to ally with the Romans. The combined armies reached Orléans
Orléans
ahead of Attila, thus checking and turning back the Hunnish advance. Aëtius gave chase and caught the Huns
Huns
at a place usually assumed to be near Catalaunum (modern Châlons-en-Champagne). Attila
Attila
decided to fight the Romans on plains where he could use his cavalry.[32] The two armies clashed in the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains, the outcome of which is commonly considered to be a strategic victory for the Visigothic-Roman alliance. Theodoric was killed in the fighting, and Aëtius failed to press his advantage, according to Edward Gibbon and Edward Creasy, because he feared the consequences of an overwhelming Visigothic triumph as much as he did a defeat. From Aëtius' point of view, the best outcome was what occurred: Theodoric died, Attila
Attila
was in retreat and disarray, and the Romans had the benefit of appearing victorious. Invasion of Italy
Italy
and death

Raphael's The Meeting between Leo the Great and Attila
Attila
depicts Leo, escorted by Saint Peter
Saint Peter
and Saint Paul, meeting with the Hun
Hun
emperor outside Rome

Attila
Attila
returned in 452 to renew his marriage claim with Honoria, invading and ravaging Italy
Italy
along the way. Communities became established in what would later become Venice 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 so completely that it was afterwards hard to recognize its original site.[33]:159 Aëtius lacked the strength to offer battle, but managed to harass and slow Attila's advance with only a shadow force. Attila finally halted at the River Po. By this point, disease and starvation may have taken hold in Attila's camp, thus helping to stop his invasion.[citation needed] Emperor Valentinian III sent three envoys, the high civilian officers Gennadius Avienus and Trigetius, as well as the Bishop of Rome
Rome
Leo I, who met Attila
Attila
at Mincio
Mincio
in the vicinity of Mantua and obtained from him the promise that he would withdraw from Italy and negotiate peace with the Emperor.[34] Prosper of Aquitaine gives a short description of the historic meeting, but gives all the credit to Leo for the successful negotiation. Priscus
Priscus
reports that superstitious fear of the fate of Alaric gave him pause—as Alaric died shortly after sacking Rome
Rome
in 410. Italy
Italy
had suffered from a terrible famine in 451 and her crops were faring little better in 452. Attila's devastating invasion of the plains of northern Italy
Italy
this year did not improve the harvest.[33]:161 To advance on Rome
Rome
would have required supplies which were not available in Italy, and taking the city would not have improved Attila's supply situation. Therefore, it was more profitable for Attila
Attila
to conclude peace and retreat back to his homeland.[33]:160–161 Furthermore, an East Roman force had crossed the Danube
Danube
under the command of another officer also named Aetius—who had participated in the Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
the previous year—and proceeded to defeat the Huns
Huns
who had been left behind by Attila
Attila
to safeguard their home territories. Attila, hence, faced heavy human and natural pressures to retire "from Italy
Italy
without ever setting foot south of the Po".[33]:163 As Hydatius writes in his Chronica Minora:

The Huns, who had been plundering Italy
Italy
and who had also stormed a number of cities, were victims of divine punishment, being visited with heaven-sent disasters: famine and some kind of disease. In addition, they were slaughtered by auxiliaries sent by the Emperor Marcian
Marcian
and led by Aetius, and at the same time, they were crushed in their [home] settlements ... Thus crushed, they made peace with the Romans and all returned to their homes.[35]

Death

The Huns, led by Attila, invade Italy
Italy
(Attila, the Scourge of God, by Ulpiano Checa, 1887).

Marcian
Marcian
was the successor of Theodosius, and he had ceased paying tribute to the Huns
Huns
in late 450 while Attila
Attila
was occupied in the west. Multiple invasions by the Huns
Huns
and others had left the Balkans
Balkans
with little to plunder.[citation needed] After Attila
Attila
left Italy
Italy
and returned to his palace across the Danube, he planned to strike at Constantinople
Constantinople
again and reclaim the tribute which Marcian
Marcian
had stopped. However, he died in the early months of 453. The conventional account from Priscus
Priscus
says that Attila
Attila
was at a feast celebrating his latest marriage, this time to the beautiful young Ildico
Ildico
(the name suggests Gothic or Ostrogoth origins).[33]:164 In the midst of the revels, however, he suffered a severe nosebleed and choked to death in a stupor. An alternative theory is that he succumbed to internal bleeding after heavy drinking, possibly a condition called esophageal varices, where dilated veins in the lower part of the esophagus rupture leading to death by hemorrhage.[36] Another account of his death was first recorded 80 years after the events by Roman chronicler Marcellinus Comes. It reports that "Attila, King of the Huns
Huns
and ravager of the provinces of Europe, was pierced by the hand and blade of his wife".[37] The Volsunga saga[38] and the Poetic Edda[39] claim that King Atli (Attila) died at the hands of his wife Gudrun. Most scholars reject these accounts as no more than hearsay, preferring instead the account given by Attila's contemporary Priscus. Priscus' version, however, has recently come under renewed scrutiny by Michael A. Babcock.[40] Based on detailed philological analysis, Babcock concludes that the account of natural death given by Priscus
Priscus
was an ecclesiastical "cover story", and that Emperor Marcian (who ruled the Eastern Roman Empire
Eastern Roman Empire
from 450 to 457) was the political force behind Attila's death.[40] Jordanes
Jordanes
recounts:

On the following day, when a great part of the morning was spent, the royal attendants suspected some ill and, after a great uproar, broke in the doors. There they found the death of Attila
Attila
accomplished by an effusion of blood, without any wound, and the girl with downcast face weeping beneath her veil. Then, as is the custom of that race, they plucked out the hair of their heads and made their faces hideous with deep wounds, that the renowned warrior might be mourned, not by effeminate wailings and tears, but by the blood of men. Moreover a wondrous thing took place in connection with Attila's death. For in a dream some god stood at the side of Marcian, Emperor of the East, while he was disquieted about his fierce foe, and showed him the bow of Attila
Attila
broken in that same night, as if to intimate that the race of Huns
Huns
owed much to that weapon. This account the historian Priscus says he accepts upon truthful evidence. For so terrible was Attila thought to be to great empires that the gods announced his death to rulers as a special boon. His body was placed in the midst of a plain and lay in state in a silken tent as a sight for men's admiration. The best horsemen of the entire tribe of the Huns
Huns
rode around in circles, after the manner of circus games, in the place to which he had been brought and told of his deeds in a funeral dirge in the following manner: "The chief of the Huns, King Attila, born of his sire Mundiuch, lord of bravest tribes, sole possessor of the Scythian
Scythian
and German realms—powers unknown before—captured cities and terrified both empires of the Roman world and, appeased by their prayers, took annual tribute to save the rest from plunder. And when he had accomplished all this by the favor of fortune, he fell, not by wound of the foe, nor by treachery of friends, but in the midst of his nation at peace, happy in his joy and without sense of pain. Who can rate this as death, when none believes it calls for vengeance?" When they had mourned him with such lamentations, a strava, as they call it, was celebrated over his tomb with great revelling. They gave way in turn to the extremes of feeling and displayed funereal grief alternating with joy. Then in the secrecy of night they buried his body in the earth. They bound his coffins, the first with gold, the second with silver and the third with the strength of iron, showing by such means that these three things suited the mightiest of kings; iron because he subdued the nations, gold and silver because he received the honors of both empires. They also added the arms of foemen won in the fight, trappings of rare worth, sparkling with various gems, and ornaments of all sorts whereby princely state is maintained. And that so great riches might be kept from human curiosity, they slew those appointed to the work—a dreadful pay for their labor; and thus sudden death was the lot of those who buried him as well as of him who was buried. — Jordanes, in his Getica[6]:254–259

Attila's sons Ellac, Dengizich and Ernak, "in their rash eagerness to rule they all alike destroyed his empire".[6]:259 They "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".[6]:259 Against the treatment as "slaves of the basest condition" a Germanic alliance led by the Gepid ruler Ardaric
Ardaric
(who was noted for great loyalty to Attila[6]:199) revolted and fought with the Huns
Huns
in Pannonia in the Battle of Nedao 454 AD.[6]:260–262 Attila's eldest son Ellac was killed in that battle.[6]:262 Attila's sons "regarding the Goths
Goths
as deserters from their rule, came against them as though they were seeking fugitive slaves", attacked Ostrogothic co-ruler Valamir (who also fought alongside Ardaric
Ardaric
and Attila
Attila
at the Catalaunian Plains[6]:199), but were repelled, and some group of Huns moved to Scythia (probably those of Ernak).[6]:268–269 His brother Dengizich attempted a renewed invasion across the Danube
Danube
in 468 AD, but was defeated at the Battle of Bassianae by the Ostrogoths.[6]:272–273 Dengizich was killed by Roman-Gothic general Anagast the following year, after which the Hunnic dominion ended.[11]:168 Attila's many children and relatives are known by name and some even by deeds, but soon valid genealogical sources all but dried up, and there seems to be no verifiable way to trace Attila's descendants. This has not stopped many genealogists from attempting to reconstruct a valid line of descent for various medieval rulers. One of the most credible claims has been that of the Nominalia of the Bulgarian khans for mythological Avitohol and Irnik from the Dulo clan
Dulo clan
of the Bulgars.[15]:103[10]:59, 142[41] Later folklore and iconography Further information: Attila
Attila
the Hun
Hun
in popular culture

Illustration of the meeting between Attila
Attila
and Pope Leo from the Chronicon Pictum, c. 1360

Attila
Attila
himself is said to have claimed the titles "Descendant of the Great Nimrod", and "King of the Huns, the Goths, the Danes, and the Medes"—the last two peoples being mentioned to show the extent of his control over subject nations even on the peripheries of his domain.[42] Jordanes
Jordanes
embellished the report of Priscus, reporting that Attila
Attila
had possessed the "Holy War Sword of the Scythians", which was given to him by Mars and made him a "prince of the entire world".[43][44] By the end of the 12th century the royal court of Hungary
Hungary
proclaimed their descent from Attila. Lampert of Hersfeld's contemporary chronicles report that shortly before the year 1071, the Sword of Attila
Attila
had been presented to Otto of Nordheim
Otto of Nordheim
by the exiled queen of Hungary, Anastasia of Kiev.[45] This sword, a cavalry sabre now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum
Kunsthistorisches Museum
in Vienna, appears to be the work of Hungarian goldsmiths of the ninth or tenth century.[46] An anonymous chronicler of the medieval period represented the meeting of Pope Leo and Atilla as attended also by Saint Peter
Saint Peter
and Saint Paul, "a miraculous tale calculated to meet the taste of the time"[47] This apotheosis was later portrayed artistically by the Renaissance
Renaissance
artist Raphael
Raphael
and sculptor Algardi, whom eighteenth-century historian Edward Gibbon praised for establishing "one of the noblest legends of ecclesiastical tradition".[48] According to a version of this narrative related in the Chronicon Pictum, a mediaeval Hungarian chronicle, the Pope promised Attila
Attila
that if he left Rome
Rome
in peace, one of his successors would receive a holy crown (which has been understood as referring to the Holy Crown of Hungary). Some histories and chronicles describe him as a great and noble king, and he plays major roles in three Norse sagas: Atlakviða,[39] Volsunga saga,[38] and Atlamál.[39] The Polish Chronicle represents Attila's name as Aquila.[49][citation needed] Frutolf of Michelsberg and Otto of Freising
Otto of Freising
pointed out that some songs as "vulgar fables" made Theoderic the Great, Attila
Attila
and Ermanaric contemporaries, when any reader of Jordanes
Jordanes
knew that this was not the case.[50] In 1812, Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
conceived the idea of writing an opera about Attila
Attila
and approached August von Kotzebue
August von Kotzebue
to write the libretto. It was, however, never written.[51] In World War I, Allied propaganda referred to Germans as the "Huns", based on a 1900 speech by Emperor Wilhelm II praising Attila
Attila
the Hun's military prowess, according to Jawaharlal Nehru's Glimpses of World History.[52] Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel
commented on November 6, 1948, that the Sword of Attila was hanging menacingly over Austria.[53] American writer Cecelia Holland wrote The Death of Attila
Attila
(1973), a historical novel in which Attila
Attila
appears as a powerful background figure whose life and death deeply impact the protagonists, a young Hunnic warrior and a Germanic one. In modern Hungary
Hungary
and in Turkey, "Attila" and its Turkish variation "Atilla" are commonly used as a male first name. In Hungary, several public places are named after Attila; for instance, in Budapest
Budapest
there are 10 Attila
Attila
Streets, one of which is an important street behind the Buda Castle. When the Turkish Armed Forces
Turkish Armed Forces
invaded Cyprus
Cyprus
in 1974, the operations were named after Attila
Attila
("The Attila
Attila
Plan").[54] The 1954 Universal International film Sign of the Pagan
Sign of the Pagan
starred Jack Palance as Attila. Depictions of Attila

Attila
Attila
the Hun, also known as Atli.

Attila
Attila
the Hun, also known as Atli, in an illustration to the Poetic Edda.

A nineteenth century depiction of Attila. Certosa di Pavia
Certosa di Pavia
- Medallion at the base of the facade. The Latin
Latin
inscription tells that this is Attila, the scourge of God.

Renaissance
Renaissance
medal with the legend, Atila, Flagelum Dei (dubiously-spelled Latin
Latin
for "Attila, Scourge of God")

Image of Attila

The Meeting of Leo I and Attila by Alessandro Algardi (1646–1653)

Notes

^ a b Harvey, Bonnie (2003) [1st Published in 1821 by Chelsea House Publications]. Attila
Attila
the Hun
Hun
(Ancient World Leaders). Infobase Publishing. ASIN B01FJ1LTIQ.  ^ a b Cooper, Alan D (2008). The Geography of Genocide. University Press of America. ISBN 978-0761840978.  ^ a b Peterson, John Bertram (1907). "Attila". The Catholic Encyclopedia vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved May 18, 2014.  ^ Bakker, Marco. " Attila
Attila
the Hun". Gallery of reconstructed portraits. Reportret. Retrieved March 9, 2013.  ^ a b Wolfram, Herwig (1997). The Roman Empire and its Germanic Peoples (Hardcover). Dunlap, Thomas (translator) (1st ed.). University of California Press. p. 143. ISBN 978-0-520-08511-4. Retrieved May 18, 2014.  ^ a b c d e f g h i j Jordanes
Jordanes
(1908). The Origin and Deeds of the Goths. Project Gutenberg. Translated by Mierow, Charles Christopher. Princeton: Princeton University.  ^ Sinor, Denis (1990). The Cambridge History of Early Inner Asia. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-24304-9.  ^ Wolff, Larry. Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment. Stanford University Press; 1 edition (January 1, 1994). pp. 299-230. ISBN 978-0804727020 ^ Fields, Nic. Attila
Attila
the Hun
Hun
(Command). Osprey Publishing; UK ed. edition (August 18, 2015). p. 58-60. ISBN 978-1472808875 ^ a b c d e f g h Hyun Jin Kim (2013). The Huns, Rome
Rome
and the Birth of Europe. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-107-00906-6.  ^ a b c d e f Maenchen-Helfen, Otto (August 1973). The World of the Huns: Studies in Their History and Culture. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-01596-8.  ^ a b c d e Snædal, Magnús (2015). "Attila" (PDF). Studia Etymologica Cracoviensia. 20 (3): 211–219. (Registration required (help)).  ^ Bruhns, Annette (March 26, 2013). "Die Epoche der Völkerwanderung: Bestien auf zwei Beinen" [The Age of Mass Migration: Beasts on Two Legs]. Spiegel Online: Wissenschaft [Science] (in German). SPIEGELnet GmbH. Archived from the original on April 28, 2014. Retrieved May 18, 2014.  ^ a b c d Pritsak, Omeljan (December 1982). "The Hunnic Language of the Attila
Attila
Clan" (PDF). Harvard Ukrainian Studies. Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University. VI (4): 428–476. ISSN 0363-5570. Retrieved May 18, 2014.  ^ a b Golden, Peter Benjamin (1992). An introduction to the History of the Turkic peoples: ethnogenesis and state formation in medieval and early modern Eurasia and the Middle East. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. ISBN 978-3-447-03274-2.  ^ Van Ruysbroeck, Willem (January 1, 1998). The Journey of William of Rubruck to the Eastern Parts of the World, 1253–1255. Rockhill, William Woodville (translator) (New ed. of 1900 ed.). Asian Educational Services. p. 107. ISBN 978-81-206-1338-6.  ^ a b c d e f g h Lebedynsky, Iaroslav; Escher, Katalin (December 1, 2007). Le dossier Attila
Attila
[The Attila
Attila
Report] (Paperback) (in French). Editions Errance. ISBN 978-2-87772-364-0.  ^ Given, John (2014). The Fragmentary History of Priscus: Attila, the Huns
Huns
and the Roman Empire, AD 430–476 (Paperback). Arx Publishing. ISBN 978-1-935228-14-1.  ^ a b c d e f g h Rouche, Michel (July 3, 2009). Attila: la violence nomade [Attila: the Nomadic Violence] (Paperback) (in French). [Paris]: Fayard. ISBN 978-2-213-60777-1.  ^ Grousset, Rene (1970). The Empire of the Steppes. Rutgers University Press. p. 38. ISBN 978-0-8135-1304-1.  ^ Vovin, Alexander (2000). "Did the Xiongnu
Xiongnu
speak a Yeniseian language?". Central Asiatic Journal. 44 (1). ISBN 978-3-447-09164-0. ISSN 0008-9192.  ^ Waldman, Carl; Mason, Catherine (April 1, 2006). Encyclopedia of European Peoples. Facts On File. p. 393. ISBN 978-0-8160-4964-6.  ^ Deschodt, Éric (May 1, 2006). Folio Biographies (Book 13): Attila (in French). Paris: Éditions Gallimard. p. 24. ISBN 978-2-07-030903-0.  ^ Schreiber, Hermann (1976). Die Hunnen: Attila
Attila
probt den Weltuntergang [The Huns: Attila
Attila
Rehearses the End of the World] (Hardcover) (in German) (1st ed.). Düsseldorf: Econ. p. 314. ISBN 978-3-430-18045-0.  ^ Bóna, István (April 8, 2002). Les Huns: le grand empire barbare d'Europe (IVe-Ve siècles) [The Huns: The Great Empire of Barbaric Europe IVth–Vth Century] (in French). Escher, Katalin (translation of the Hungarian). Paris: Errance. p. 15. ISBN 978-2-87772-223-0.  ^ a b Lebedynsky, Iaroslav (2011). La campagne d' Attila
Attila
en Gaule [The Campaign of Attila
Attila
in Gaul] (in French). Clermont-Ferrand: Lemme edit. ISBN 978-2-917575-21-5.  ^ Howarth, Patrick (1995). Attila, King of the Huns: The Man and The Myth. Barnes & Noble Books. pp. 36–37. ISBN 978-0-7607-0033-4.  ^ Dupuy, R. Ernest; Dupuy, Trevor N. (March 1993). The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History: From 3500 BC to the Present (4th ed.). HarperCollins. p. 189. ISBN 978-0-06-270056-8.  ^ Haas, Christopher. "Embassy to Attila: Priscus
Priscus
of Panium". Villanova University. Archived from the original on February 21, 2014. Retrieved May 18, 2014.  ^ Hodgkin, Thomas (2011). Italy
Italy
and Her Invaders: 376–476. Volume II. Book 2. The Hunnish Invasion; Book 3. The Vandal Invasion and the Herulian Mutiny. New York: Adegi Graphics LLC. ISBN 978-0-543-95157-1.  ^ Goyau, Georges (1912). "Troyes". The Catholic Encyclopedia vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company.  ^ " Rome
Rome
Halts the Huns". 2017-01-17. Retrieved 2017-01-28.  ^ a b c d e Thompson, Edward Arthur (1948). The Huns. Peoples of Europe Series (1999 ed.). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-21443-4.  ^ Kirsch, Johann Peter (1910). "Pope St. Leo I (the Great)". The Catholic Encyclopedia vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company.  ^ Burgess, R. W., ed. (1993). The Chronicle of Hydatius and the Consularia Constantinopolitana. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 103. ISBN 0198147872. Retrieved 22 March 2018.  ^ Man, John (February 17, 2009). Attila: the Barbarian King Who Challenged Rome. New York: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press. p. 264. ISBN 978-0-312-53939-9.  ^ Chadwick, Hector Munro (1926). The Heroic Age. London: Cambridge University Press. p. 39, n 1.  ^ a b "Völsunga Saga" (Online). Morris, William; Magnússon, Eiríkr (translators). The Northvegr Foundation. 1888. Archived from the original on July 25, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2014.  ^ a b c "Atlakvitha en Grönlenzka" [The Greenland Lay of Atli]. The Poetic Edda. Bellows, Henry Adams (translator). Internet Sacred Text Archive. 1936. Archived from the original on April 9, 2014. Retrieved May 20, 2014.  ^ a b Babcock, Michael A. (July 5, 2005). The Night Attila
Attila
Died: Solving the Murder of Attila
Attila
the Hun. Berkley Books. ISBN 978-0-425-20272-2.  ^ Biliarsky, Ivan (2013). The Tale of the Prophet Isaiah: The Destiny and Meanings of an Apocryphal Text. Brill. pp. 255–257. ISBN 978-90-04-25438-1.  ^ Creasy, Edward Shepherd (1969). "Chapter VI. The Battle of Chalons, A.D. 451". Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World from Marathon to Waterloo (Harper ed.). Heritage Press/BiblioLife. p. 149. ASIN B000LF91OK. In the title which he assumed, we shall see the skill with which he availed himself of the legends and creeds of other nations as well as of his own. He designated himself 'Attila, Descendant of the Great Nimrod. Nurtured in Engaddi. By the grace of God, King of the Huns, the Goths, the Danes, and the Medes. The Dread of the World.'  ^ Geary, Patrick J. (October 28, 1994). "Chapter 3. Germanic Tradition and Royal Ideology in the Ninth Century: The Visio Karoli Magni". Living with the Dead in the Middle Ages. Cornell University Press. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-8014-8098-0.  ^ Oakeshott, Ewart (May 17, 2012). "Chapter Eight. The Curved and Single-Edged Swords of the Sixteenth Century". European Weapons and Armour: From the Renaissance
Renaissance
to the Industrial Revolution. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press. p. 151. ISBN 978-1-84383-720-6.  ^ Róna-Tas, András (July 1, 1999). "Chapter XIV. Historical Traditions, Attila
Attila
and the Hunnish-Magyar Kinship". Hungarians and Europe in the Early Middle Ages: An Introduction to Early Hungarian History. Bodoczky, Nicholas (translator). Budapest: Central European University Press. p. 425. ISBN 978-963-9116-48-1.  ^ Fillitz, Hermann (1986). Die Schatzkammer in Wien: Symbole abendländischen Kaisertums [The Vault in Vienna: Symbols of Occidental Imperial Rule] (in German). Salzburg: Residenz. ISBN 978-3-7017-0443-9.  ^ Robinson, James Harvey (January 1996). "Medieval Sourcebook: Leo I and Attila". Fordham University. Archived from the original on January 28, 2014. Retrieved May 20, 2014.  ^ Gibbon, Edward (1776–1789). History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Milman, Rev. H. H. (notes). London: Strahan & Cadell.  ^ Urbańczyk, Przemysław (1997). Early christianity in central and east Europe: Volume 1 of Christianity in east central Europe and its relations with the west and the east. Instytut Europy Środkowo-Wschodniej. p. 200. ISBN 9788386951338 – via Google Books.  ^ Innes, Matthew (June 26, 2000). Hen, Yitzhak; Innes, Matthew, eds. The Uses of the Past in the Early Middle Ages. Cambridge University Press. p. 245. ISBN 978-0-521-63998-9.  ^ Thayer, Alexander Wheelock (1921). Forbes, Elliot, ed. Thayer's Life of Beethoven (Revised 1967 ed.). Princeton University
Princeton University
Press (published 1991). p. 524. ISBN 978-0-691-02717-3. ... I could not refrain from the lively wish to possess an opera from your unique talent .... I should prefer one from the darker periods, Attila, etc., for instance, ...  ^ Nehru, Jawaharlal (1934). Glimpses of World History. London: Penguin Books India (published March 30, 2004). p. 919. ISBN 978-0-14-303105-5.  ^ "Attilas Schwert über Oesterreich: Mit ferngelenktem "New Look"" [Attila's Sword over Austria: With remote-controlled "New Look"] (Online). Vol. 45/1948 (in German). Der Spiegel. November 6, 1948. Archived from the original on May 20, 2014. Retrieved May 20, 2014.  ^ Martin, Elizabeth, ed. (December 2006). A Dictionary of World History (2nd ed.). Oxford
Oxford
University Press. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-19-920247-8. The invasion, which was likened to the action of Attila
Attila
the Hun, put into effect Turkey's scheme for the partition of Cyprus
Cyprus
(Atilla Plan). 

Other sources

Frazee, Charles A. (November 2002). Two Thousand Years Ago: the World at the Time of Jesus. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-8028-4805-5.  Heather, Peter (2010). Empires and Barbarians: The Fall of Rome
Rome
and the Birth of Europe. Oxford
Oxford
University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-975272-0.  Heather, Peter (2007). The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome
Rome
and the Barbarians. Oxford
Oxford
University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-532541-6. 

External links

Wikiquote has quotations related to: Attila

Media related to Attila
Attila
the Hun
Hun
at Wikimedia Commons

Regnal titles

Preceded by Ruga Hunnic rulers Joint rule Bleda & Attila c. 435–453 Succeeded by Ellac

v t e

The Dietrich von Bern Cycle

Legends about Theoderic the Great

The Historical Poems

Dietrichs Flucht Die Rabenschlacht Alpharts Tod Dietrich und Wenezlan

The Fantastic Poems

Virginal Laurin Der Rosengarten zu Worms Das Eckenlied Goldemar Sigenot Der Wunderer

Related works

Hildebrandslied Nibelungenlied Thidrekssaga Jüngeres Hildebrandslied Ermenrichs Tod Wolfdietrich Ortnit

Sources

Ambraser Heldenbuch Heldenbuch

Legendary characters

Theoderic the Great Etzel (Attila) Hildebrand Ermanaric Witige Heime King Laurin King Goldemar

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 48005872 LCCN: n50030729 GND: 118504959 HDS: 10327 NDL: 0062

.