Hungary came from the Huns

The story of the Huns

Who were the Huns anyway?

Insights into a glorious history

They come from the vast steppes of Asia and all of Europe trembles at the danger from the East. "The heart of wild animals beats in them" according to a 6th century chronicle. Since ancient times they have been denied being human. This is how Europe's image of the enemy from then is described. We are talking about the Huns, the death riders from the east. Around 395 AD, Attila was born as the nephew of Rugila, king of the Huns. In a sparsely furnished yurt, as one chronicler describes, a man is born who is later to become the horror of the peoples of Europe. Small scattered hordes and tribes of Huns will one day be united under Attila to form a mighty war force and will march against Rome.

But where did the Huns come from and where did their power come from?


There are many legends about the Huns. That Huns rode their meat softly under the saddle to eat is such a legend. In reality, they put the meat under their saddles to keep their backs from chafing.

The Great Wall of China was built to protect against invading Huns. The Huns were already known to the Chinese 4,000 years ago, but under the name Hsi-ung-no (Xiongnu). The Huns had invaded the fertile valleys of China and could only be driven out again after decades. According to a Chinese legend, swamp dwellers united with witches and demons and produced the race of the Huns. So the Chinese also denied the Huns any humanity. The Huns, like some of their descendants, the Mongols, were nomads. The yurts, the tents of the Huns in which they lived, were made of felt and sheepskin. Attila's tent was probably made of silk. On a painting of the walls of the Catacomb of Anthesterius, the interior of a royal yurt is shown in blue, as is assumed this is a wool carpet. By the middle of the 5th century, distinguished Huns had houses in the villages they had conquered. They were similar to the king's residence and made of wood. Mostly it was a room made of smoothed boards and paneling. The Palace of Attilas consisted of a large, simple, square or right-angled room, furnished with seats and a bed or divan, which was closed off at one end by carpets. The houses of Attila and his followers were probably built by Goths. The simple Huns, however, continued to live in their yurts.

The life of the Huns was always dependent on the seasons. In the summer, supplies had to be gathered for the winter. Meat, for example, was air dried so that it could be stored for a long time. The greatest wealth of the Huns were the herds of cattle and sheep, which provided the nomadic people of the Huns with milk and meat. The herds determined the direction of migration. The Huns were excellent horsemen. They were nimble and quick, according to the chronicler Jordanis. Their horses were tough, resilient and undemanding. In winter they found their own food under the blanket of snow. Around 200 AD, nomad tribes dispersed by the Chinese gathered for the first time deep in Mongolia to form a war force. There are no written records from the Huns, as the Huns only knew oral records. The famous Chinese book of history as well as the Greek Sosimos and the Roman Prosbirotino write about the Huns. The most important source about the Huns is the Roman Ammicanus Marcellinus. He describes the Huns as shepherds without culture. But the Huns were not only cavalrymen, they were also proficient in various kinds of handicrafts. They had furriers, carpenters, goldsmiths, joiners, wood and bone carvers, saddlers, tinkers, potters and armourers. Grave finds prove the art of jewelry and pottery that ruled the Huns.

The first Hunnic empire was reached on the edge of the Gobi desert. Then, in the fourth century, the catastrophe begins. The climate is changing. The summers are getting shorter and the ground rarely thaws. Large parts of the Hunnic herds perish without food. Out of this need begins the great migration that was to change the world. From what is now the area between China and Korea, Hunnic tribes move west and south. Huns invading China are driven out by the Chinese after decades. The Chinese are building the first wall. Hunnic tribes invade Persia and Asia Minor. The most powerful river flows to Europe via Russia. The Alans are overrun, the Goths driven from their home country, The Goths displace the Burgundians who cross the Rhine. The Goths are divided into Eastern and Visigoths and move to northern Italy and France. The Lombards flee south, Saxony and Angling to the British Isles. The Franks cross the Rhine. The vandals went the furthest way to Spain and North Africa. The Huns gather in the Hungarian lowlands, in Pannonia. The whole of Europe is terrified and the Roman empire is losing its order. Whole peoples leave their homeland and harass one another. The Huns overran the Alans, these the Goths and these the Taimats and Saivaten. The time of the great migrations began. The great Roman Empire had to bow to the Huns, West Rome bought the peace from King Rugila and East Rome was attacked and forced to pay tribute.

Around 410 AD the young Attila is sent as a hostage for peace to Ravena, the northern Italian imperial city. He is introduced to life there as the distinguished hostage of Rome at the court of Emperor Honorius. At that time it was customary to exchange princely children as a pledge for peace. In Ravena, Attila is confronted for the first time with the Christian faith and the bad habits of western civilization. Attila gets to know the Latin language and the world from the perspective of Roman claims to power. But this training will one day make Attila a dangerous, because knowledgeable, opponent of Rome. In exchange, a young Roman nobleman Flavius ​​Aetius becomes hostage with the Huns. Attila and Aetius are still friends, but soon they will meet again as mortal enemies on the battlefield, Aetius as the Roman general and Attila as the king of the Huns. There is still a peace that has been bought with West Rome, but those who do not pay the tribute will be overrun by the Huns. They conquer the north of Persia.

Each day that began, King Rugila greeted him with the words:


"I can submit to anything that the sun shines on if I want."


For the Church, the Huns were harbingers of the end of the world. One advantage of the Huns was their excellent infrastructure, which was dominated by an extensive communications network. They knew courier services and permanent posts with fresh horses in the steppe. While the Huns are still ruled by King Rugila, Attila learns the craft of war in the Roman provinces. On their wanderings, the Huns took all their belongings with them and overcame immeasurable distances. Women, children, supplies and cattle were only left behind on campaigns. Huns' graves were found along the migration routes, but some of them were looted. In these graves, but especially in princely graves, were numerous grave accessories such as jewelry and earthenware. The gold bracelets found served as a badge of rank and testified to a by no means primitive people. At the turn of the 5th century, the Hungarian lowlands of Pannonia became the Hunnic ancestral land and from here the hordes set off again and again on the war campaigns. Here Attila also grows into his role as the future King of the Huns. In 435 AD, Bleda, Attila's brother, negotiates with Rome. The Huns need money and the Romans need an ally against the Burgundians.

On behalf of Rome, the Burgundians are defeated by the Hunnic hordes under Bleda's leadership. This battle is probably the origin of the Nibelungen song. This year the Hun king Rugila dies and two kings are supposed to share power over the Huns: Attila and his brother Bleda, Rugila's nephew. But Attila does not tolerate anyone next to him. He drives out renegade princes and tribal leaders. Attila demands absolute obedience and submission. In a clever policy of alliance with the Germanic tribes, Attila admitted their tribal chiefs to the Hunnic upper class. But there is one last obstacle on the way to sole power over the Huns; his brother Bleda. Attila murders Bleda and the way to sole rule is free. He richly rewards devoted followers. Your loyalty is worth gold to Attila. And Attila needs that more and more to feed his people, whose main trade is warfare. East Rome in particular pays for peace with the Huns.

First 350, then 700 pounds of gold annually and finally 7,000 pounds. Attila recognized the weakness of the Roman Empire. The colossus has become immobile and uncontrollable. There are more and more small wars in the Roman provinces. Rome cannot risk a war against the Huns. Although Rome's legionaries are well equipped, the Roman breastplates offer no protection against the Hunnic archers. The Huns use iron arrowheads that pierce the Roman leather armor like paper. Whole cohorts of Roman legionaries flee from the Huns in a panic. The iron chainmail and helmets used as a counter-recipe by Rome made the soldiers cumbersome and therefore had no chance against the agile Huns. The military superiority of the Huns can be seen in a fresco of a crypt in Aquillia that has been lost for centuries.

In this picture you can see two soldiers who are chasing each other. A Roman legionnaire follows a Hun with a lance. The Hun stands up in the stirrup, turns to the Roman and shoots him with his bow. Reflex bow, arrowhead and horsemanship are the main elements of Hunnic superiority in combat. Attila plays East against West Rome against each other. However, the situation changes with the death of the Eastern Roman emperor Theodorius II. Constantinople refuses to pay tribute and threatens war. West Rome stops making payments and joins forces with the Goths. Meanwhile, the sister of the Western Roman Emperor Flavius ​​III, Honoria, has the Hun King convey her marriage wish. Attila makes an appearance and demands Gaul as a dowry from Emperor Flavius ​​III. But he refuses and marries Honoria with a lowly courtier. So he gives Attila a reason for a war against Rome. Attila wants to subjugate Gaul. At the end of February 451, Attila led his troops and those allied with him across the Rhine.

During this time, the route of the Huns also passes Cologne. According to the Ursula legend, Attila demands 11,000 virgins from the city of Cologne to spare them. It is said to have been St. Ursula and her companions who were on the way to Ursula's wedding with a prince. According to legend, they were killed by Attila and his hordes. But it was more like 11 instead of 10,000 virgins who accompanied Ursula. The resulting connection between Cologne and the Huns can still be seen in the city coat of arms on the basis of the 11 flames or ermine tails.

The largest army of late antiquity made up of Gepids, Ostrogoths, Rugians, Skiren, Herolians, Sweden, Alemanni and Thuringians united with the Huns. A horrific campaign begins in Gaul and at the same time the Huns wage war in Persia 4000 km east. More than ever, Attila is dependent on his Germanic allies. The army of 500,000 rolls through today's France, robbing, murdering and plundering. Metz is burned to the ground, Orleans besieged for months before it falls. The Bishop of Reims asks for protection for his city and draws psalms to the Huns while singing. In the middle of the song, his head is cut off from his torso, other clergy accompanying him are taken hostage. Shortly before Paris, Attila pauses, but nobody knows why he is sparing the city. It is said that St. Genoveva appeared to him and prophesied that calamity awaited him in the city. Attila turns away and moves into the open area of ​​the Champagne and sets up a camp there.

A day around June 20, 451 is the beginning of the decisive, terrible battle in world history. Near Troix is ​​the beginning of the battle in which the fate of Europe will be decided, the battle of the Catalaunian fields begins. The former friends Attila and Aetius now face each other as mortal enemies. The Roman Aetius has allied himself with the Visigoths under Theodoric. The Huns use their tried and true tactics. Lightning-fast attack of small groups of archers who retreat as quickly as they appear. Bow and iron arrowheads are superior to the Romans. The king of the Visigoths dies, but Attila does not win. It is estimated that around 200,000 dead remained in the fields during this battle. Attila withdraws to his camp and has a pyre built. He would rather be burned than fall into the hands of the enemy. But it won't come to that.

Attila has the bone oracle questioned about the outcome of the battle. The shaman pulls a sheep's shoulder blade out of the fire and prophesies that Attila will be defeated. The Huns sensed that a second battle would be their downfall. Attila orders the withdrawal. The whole of Gaul is smoking like a huge pyre, a chronicle describes the situation. The battle of nations over the fate of Europe, in which warriors from the Volga to the Atlantic faced each other, is one of the most terrible events in human history. The hills of Troix are said to be made from the bones of the dead in battle. They are referred to as the skulls of the Catalaunian fields. The tribes retreat under Attila into the ancestral area of ​​Pannonia.

The last chapter begins under the cry of fear:
"The Huns are coming!"


The wounds have not yet healed when Attila orders the start of the next wars. 452 a Hunnish army rides west for the last time. Europe trembles again before the Huns and the impending apocalypse. The destination of the Huns is Rome. The northern Italian bastions are overrun. Aquillia, the metropolis of northern Italy, is razed to the ground after a three-month siege. A fresco on the Katause of Parma commemorates the Huns and Attila. Under a marble relief with the portrait of the Hun King is written: "Attila, Flagellum dei" - Attila, the scourge of God.

About 200,000 inhabitants of Aquillia fled from the Huns in the swamps. The survivors greeted each other with the words: "Venè etiam", which means "I also survived and made it this far". They built a city in the swamps and the name of the city developed from the greeting. The name was Venezia, today's Venice. After Aquillia, Altino, Concordia and the patrician cities of northern Italy fall. But the Huns move on towards Rome. Numerous cities are looted and destroyed. Churches and monasteries are robbed.

When Milan and Padua fall and Rome is increasingly in danger, Pope Leo I approaches Attila and asks for peace. Attila receives the delegates on the river Minccio, not far from Lake Garda. Attila refuses to get off his horse and forces Pope Leo I to conduct the hours of negotiations on horseback. With Pope Leo I, the Christian West meets the world of pagan nomads. A peace treaty is concluded in which Attila promises the release of all hostages and Rome assures large sums of money in gold. The Huns return to Pannonia with rich booty.

Back in Pannonia, Attila married the German Ildeko, who was born in Burgundy. Attila is said to have died of a hemorrhage while intoxicated on their wedding night. After Attila's death, the empire of the Huns falls apart. Attila's grave is said to be in Hungary on the Thais. Surely the tomb could be found, like everything that was once hidden in the earth. But it cannot be searched. Let us imagine a particularly large grave in which many treasures could easily be accommodated; it may be as big as a room. There would be room for 500 such graves on a single hectare, and 500,000 on one square kilometer. Since we only know so much about the camp city of the Huns, in whose immediate or further vicinity Attila was buried, that it was east of the Thais, in the north of the Temes river and in the south of the Körös river, but Attila was probably in the was buried in the eastern half of the area between the Danube and the Thais, at least 20,000 square kilometers would be considered. One could imagine - no mistake - a billion Attila graves on such a large area. It would be easier to find a needle in a haystack.

From today's perspective, the funeral ceremony was quite strange: the warriors cut their hair and inflicted deep wounds on their faces, so that the glorious hero was mourned not with woman's tears but with man's blood. His body was laid out and the saddle, weapons and clothes were given to the fire.Chosen horsemen circled the corpse and sang songs of the dead. The body was secretly buried overnight with numerous grave goods. Attila ruled for eight years. Eight years that changed the world. Under Ellak, the son of Attila, the Huns collapse and the small Huns now threatened by many enemies withdraw into the vast Asian steppes to where they once set out.

Here the trail of the Huns is lost, but with the founding of the 1st Cologne Huns Horde from 1958, a new chapter may have started and there may be an opportunity to protect the history of the Huns from being forgotten. But back to a fallacy about the Huns: The Huns already knew something like equality. For example, there was no bowing or falling on the stomach in front of the princes and kings. You saw yourself upright face to face. In addition to the Huns, women also looked after wounded Romans. With the Huns, in contrast to the Mongols, everything was more humane in the camps. So the lords of the Hun Empire entered Attila's tent, whom they called "their" friend, without asking for permission.
Be that as it may, this is certainly only a small part of the history of the Huns.

Sources: Istvan Bona: - the Hun Empire 1991
Hermann Schreiber: The Huns - Attila rehearses the end of the world
Hans Christian Huf: Sphinx Secrets of History 1995