Top 10 Fascinating Facts about Attila the Hun

Attila the Hun- Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

There is a movie released in 2001 starring Gerard Butler named Attila. It is based on a great ruthless 5th-century military leader of the Hunnic, a nomadic community from Asia and Europe; who took his empire to great heights by winning wars and proving himself a vicious warrior. He reigned supreme over the Roman Empire several times, winning tough wars. He was feared throughout the Roman Empire while and his brother Bleda ruled, and even after the death of his brother. He was the leader from around 434 AD and his triumphs were known all over. He was feared and revered by many kingdoms and communities for his military skills. 

Attila was born in present-day Hungary around 406 AD, while some of the things about his life are mysterious, here are some facts that will enable you to understand Attila the Hun better!

1. He killed his brother 

Many people believe Atila killed his brother though there is very little evidence to that! This would make the case similar to Cain and Abel- in the Bible. One brother killing another for power and prestige. Attila killed his brother Bleda for power. The two had become a formidable force, signing treaties with the Eastern Roman Empire to allow markets to open and winning wars. It is believed that after the Romans conceded defeat and signed a treaty with the Huns, and giving an annual treaty of 2, 100 Roman pounds (which was raised three times), Bleda died several years later, making Attila the sole king of the Huns. 

2. He loved gold; but lived a modest life 

Even though he had an insatiable love for gold, he lived a very humble life. During his parties, he was served on wooden cups and plates while his guests were served in gold and silver goblets. His dressing was also really simple; unlike those of his subordinates who liked to flaunt. He only insisted on cleanliness. 

3.   He died a horrible mysterious death

The death of Attila- Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Attila was known as one of the greatest warriors ever! But the way he died was mysterious. During the wedding to one of his numerous wives Ildico, on the eve of an invasion of Constantinople, where he wanted to reclaim, after a successful invasion of Italy, Attila is believed to have died on his blood. It was after a night of excessive drinking; probably due to a nosebleed. He died around 453 AD. He was discovered in the morning by his men, with his new bride weeping beside the dead warrior. 

4. His burial site is unknown.

Legend has it that the servants who buried Attila were all killed after the burial to avoid them disclosing the location! Very weird; legend also says, a river, somewhere in Hungary, was diverted so that he could be buried in its bed, in three coffins; one in gold, the other in silver and the last in iron.  

5. He claimed half the Western Roman Empire

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

He had very close relations with the powerful general Flavius Aetius. There was a point in time when a ring was sent to him by Honoria, a sister to the Western Roman Emperor Valentinian III, who was engaged to a senator she did not want to marry, therefore she wanted Attila to rescue her. So she sent him a ring and a letter requesting him to rescue her. And he did by claiming half the West Roman Empire as dowry claiming that Honoria was his wife! Valentinian III had to be persuaded by his mother to spare his sister Honoria’s life. 

6. Why did he withdraw his invasion of Italy?

There is a debate as to why Attila withdrew his invasion of Italy. Some say that he did so after Emperor Valentinian III sent envoys led by Pope Leo 1 to ask him to turn back from his invasion, but the reason is not known! Other historians say that he withdrew due to lack of food, as well as a plague which was in Italy and also his men were too overloaded with loot to continue! I guess we might just never know!

7. He took Hun to great heights.

The Hunnic Empire was divided among his sons but it didn’t last long before it collapsed. Attila, also known as The Scourge of God- a divinely appointed punisher-, almost caused the collapse of the Roman Empire, thanks to his skills, being one of the greatest warriors and military commanders of all time! 

8. The sword of the War God

Attila’s kingdom: Image source- Wikipedia

A herder found a sword which he says injured one of his cows as they grazed and he handed it over to Attila. The sword is credited to being behind Attila’s name- the scourge of God. It became Attila’s main weapon of war; with legends saying that it was granted to him by the god of war, Mars. He said he became invincible in war because of the sword. 

9. ‘Where I have passed, grass will never grow again’.

Legend has it that where Attila’s horse rode, the grass never grew again. Legend also says that he spared Rome during his Italy conquests because of an earlier treaty with Pope Leo 1 and that St Paul and St Peter appeared to him in a dream telling him that they would strike dead if he did not settle with Pope Leo 1! He died a year later on the eve of his Italian strike.

10. The fall of the Hans kingdom

This eldest son Ellac fought with his brothers Dengizich and Ernakh over the empire after their father’s sudden death. Since they could not agree, the empire was divided amongst them leading to a fallen kingdom shortly after. 

Attila was a great leader to his people but also ruthless and aggressive. He expanded his territories by attacking and conquering German tribes, the Eastern Roman Empire all through to the Roma Empire. He lived quite an interesting life!