Earliest mention of the Huns was by a Roman historian named
Tacitus. Originally from an area near the
Caspian Sea in 91 BC, they
migrated to the
Caucasus by 150 AD and later
into Europe. Modern historians associate them with the Xiongnu
(209 BC - 93 AD) of Mongolia,
an empire that Modu Chanyu founded in 209 BC. In an attempt to escape the Huns, Germanic tribes
crossed the Danube and
Attila became ruler of the Hunnic empire, established by 370 AD. He led numerous incursions
against the empires of Rome and
Constantinople, which feared
his skilled warriors. Such pressure led the
Goths to defeat and kill the Emperor
Valens in 378 AD during the
Battle of Adrianople. The Eastern Roman
Empire (Byzantine) often hired Huns as mercenaries, although Attila considered the pay as
In 443 AD Attila invaded the Balkan region but failed to overcome the extensive
walls of Constantinople.
However, his warriors defeated a Roman army near Callipolis (modern Gelibolu).
In 451 AD Attila led a large army against Roman forces under
Flavius Aëtius in Gaul. The combined Roman and
Visigoth army decisively
defeated the Huns at the battle of Châlons.
The Roman emperor had Aëtius assassinated as a reward for the unexpected victory.
The following year Attila launched an invasion
of northern Italy
ostensibly to claim princess Honoria
as his bride. This prompted escaping Romans to found the city of
Venice. Attila withdrew after receiving a large
tribute. Attila died in 453 AD immediately after his marriage to the
The empire collapsed through internal dissension within one year. Attila's son,
Ellac, ousted two other sons and ruled two years before his death in battle at
Nedao in 454 AD.