Attila, or as he was better known, Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Hun people from 434 up until his death in 453. He was the leader of the Hunnic Empire, which ran from the Ural River to the Rhine River and from the Danube River to the Baltic Sea. During his time of being a ruler he was one of the most feared enemies of the Western and Eastern Roman Empires. Attila was a great and revered warlord, and was master of swordsmanship and archery. He blossomed at a young age, and it was clear to other he would do great things for his people.
Attila the Hun first gained power as the general of the Hunnic war machine, a brilliant and devastating force. After the death of his father Rua who was king at the time, Attila and his brother Bleda were put into power and given control over the Huns. Bleda tried to gain sole power but was unable to, it’s believed because the people thought Attila a stronger more intelligent leader. Together the brothers attempted to expand their empire, first into Persia in the late 430s. They were driven out and defeated by the Sassanid people. Instead they attacked and ransacked Eastern Roman cities; this was only ended when Constantinople bought peace at a price of an annual tribute to the Huns of 700lbs of gold, in 435.
In 455 Bleda died suddenly and it was unknown how he did although many believed Attila was responsible in some way. Attila claimed the throne and became king of the Huns and then after a poorly attempted assassination by the romans he began a war against the Roman Emperor. He lead his armies to many easier victories and expanded his empire. He invaded Italy in search of the Princess Honoria to marry her. He conquered many parts that had been affected by a two year famine. It was told that his pillage of Italy was only ended when the Pope visited Attila and convinced him to turn back and return home, but this is unproven.
After returning home, Atilla married a teenager and on the night of their wedding after the parties they retired to their room but Attila never awoke to see the following morning. It was unknown how he died, some accused his wife and others said it was medical related. After his death his empire crumbled, his three sons took over and split his land and fought for the right to be High King. Ellac gained this right but was killed just like Dengzich and their people. Ernakh avoided his brother and left his brother and merged into the Bulgars. It was just 16 years after the death of Attila that the Huns were driven out of existence.
Attila reputation today is that of a blood fuelled war lord driven by his hatred of others; however this image was mostly based upon stories told by his enemies. To his people Attila was a great man; he united his country and led them to victory of a large part of Europe. His conquests gave his people great wealth and prosperity. They saw him as a strong leader and a master of war and his obvious influence on his people is evident with their demise after his death. Even the historian Priscus described Attila as being a humble and merciful leader, who was just given a bad reputation because of the wars he fought.
Attila was truly a great man and leader, he was a man of the people who respected his fellow man and just wanted the best for his nation. Even though to gain prosperity for his people through war and intimidation I still perceive him as being a good man rather than bad or monstrous, he was simply more complex than he is portrayed today.
- By Alex Crofts, 11ENG