Attila was the ruler of the Huns. He took the empire to unprecedented heights, conquering huge parts of Europe, but also parts of Asia, and Russia. The Huns were nomads who lived in Europe and Asia from the first to the seventh century AD. They developed a reputation for being fierce warriors, but Attila was the military leader who managed to bring them the greatest glory. Attila is still one of the few warriors and leaders that have managed to bring fear to Rome, and he nearly brought the Roman Empire to its knees.
Here are some facts about Attila, his reign, and the Empire.
In 440, the Huns attacked a Roman fortress, and the Romans stopped delivery of the yearly tribute. That is when war broke between the two empires. Led by Attila, and his brother Bleda, the Huns handed defeat after defeat on the Eastern Roman Empire. In 443, the Huns destroyed a Roman army outside Constantinople.
After several years of war, Attila was even able to conquer parts of Italy, including invading and sacking cities like Padua, Verona, and Milan. Roman Emperors were not able to stop him. In 453, then Roman Emperor Valentinian III sent three envoys including the current Pope to negotiate with Attila. And the Pope was successful in telling Attila to stop his invasion. Although, some modern theories suggest that his army was depleted of food at the time, and he had to go back and recharge.
During his reign, he managed to cross the Danube twice, and plundered the Balkans. He was not able to take Constantinople, but he almost came close to invading France. He crossed the Rhine in 451, and marched as far as Orleans. He was defeated at the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains, which is his only defeat.
One of the reasons he was able to defeat the Romans was his surprise. For the first time, as far as the Romans knew, he used battering rams and rolling siege towers. With them, he managed to successfully assault the military centers of cities and massacre the inhabitants.
Fun fact, Attila claimed half the Western Roman Empire after a message from the Emperor’s sister. He maintained friendly relations with the Western Roman Empire, despite being in war with them. He was friends with Flavius Aetius, a powerful general considered the most influential man in the empire at the time. In 450 AD, Honoria, sister of Valentinian III, ruler of Western Roman Empire, sent him a ring and requested him to rescue her from a wedding to a Roman senator. He responded by claiming her as his wife and half of the Western Roman Empire as his dowry.
There are many legends linked to Attila. One is the Sword of the War God, which is also known as the Sword of Mars and Sword of Attila. It was his primary military weapon, and according to some legends, it was granted to him by Mars himself, the god of war. He thought he had been granted invincibility in war through the sword, which contributed to his reputation as the “Scourge of God”, or a divinely appointed punisher.
Attila had many wives during his life, but his marriage to a maid named Ildico was his last. He suffocated in his own blood. He went to bed the night, but didn’t wake up. Severe nosebleed, which caused suffocation, killed him while he slept. There are many theories whether he was killed, or it was just a natural death. His passing remains a mystery, as he perished under mysterious circumstances at his own wedding.