Attila was the most powerful ruler and king of the Huns, the violent tribes of Central Asia. He ruled over a vast empire that extended from the Black Sea to Central Europe and from the Baltic to River Danube. The Huns, tribes of Central Asia, saw a leader in him. Attila was gifted with great military skills. He also possessed good negotiation and diplomatic skills.
The Romans called Attila, the Hun, "Scourge of God" because he attacked and looted their empire. He was one of the direst foes of the Western and Eastern Roman Empires. Priscus, the Roman diplomat and historian, described the features of Attila as a short man with large head, deep-set eyes, flat nose, and a thin beard. The words that best describe his personality are cruel, truculent, and blustering.
Facts about Attila, the Hun
▶ Attila, the Hun was born in 406 CE in Pannonia which is currently known as Transdanubia (located in Hungary).
▶ At the age of 12, Attila was sent as a child hostage to the Roman Court and in return, the Romans sent Flavius Aetius to the Huns. Not much has been recorded about his childhood.
▶ In 433 CE, Rugila, the king of the Huns died. He left the empire to his nephews, Attila and Breda (Attila's brother). The Huns had invaded the Eastern Roman Empire during the reign of Rugila. To avoid further invasion, annually, the Roman Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire paid the Huns certain amount of money.
▶ In 435 CE, the Hun rulers Attila and Breda renewed the treaty with Theodosius II, the Roman Emperor. This treaty was known as Treaty of Margus. As per the treaty, the Romans had to pay double the previous amount.
▶ In 441 CE, Attila invaded the Eastern Roman Empire because the Romans refused to pay the annual treaty amount. The Huns conquered the Balkans, Belgrade, and Sofia. The army of Attila reached Constantinople and camped outside the gates of the city. The Roman Emperor renewed the peace treaty and agreed to pay thrice the original amount.
▶ Attila was not happy sharing his empire with his brother. In 444 AD, he and his allies murdered Breda.
▶ In 447 CE, Attila again raided the Eastern Roman Empire and conquered the Thermopylae. Theodosius II again signed the peace treaty, and this time, the Romans had to pay four times the original amount.
▶ In 450 CE, Attila received a letter from Honoria, the half-sister of the Emperor, Valentinian III, of the Western Roman Empire. She wanted him to make her his bride to escape from marrying someone whom she disliked. Attila declared war against the Western Roman Empire. The Roman army combined with Visigoths (Germanic tribes of Gothic origin) defeated Attila at the Battle of Chalons. After this defeat, Attila never troubled the Romans; he was never able to rescue or marry the Roman princess Honoria.
▶ In 453, CE he married a young Barbarian princess, Ildico. The same night he suffered heavy nose bleeding. This condition choked him to death. However, the cause of his death still remains a mystery.
▶ Historians say he was laid to rest in a coffin made of gold, silver, and iron. A section of the river Tisza, one of the major rivers whose origin is in Ukraine, was diverted to bury his coffin in the riverbed. Later, the people who buried him were executed by his sons. This was probably done to keep the exact location of his burial a secret.
▶ He had five children namely, Ellac, Ernak, Eitil, Erp, and Dengizich. However, he was inherited by only one of them, Ellac. However, the other sons of Attila were fighting over the acquisition and division of the Hun territory, which led to the division of the great Hun Empire of Central Asia. The legacy of the Huns was lost after the death of Attila.