What were the achievements of the Huns



The Huns were an equestrian people who broke over from Asia's easternmost shores to Europe and caused the migration of peoples. The Great Wall of China was erected against them as early as 200 BC. Under their King Attila they threatened the Roman Empire, and only with the combined strength of the Goths and Gauls were they able to push back the Huns from Italy and France in the battle of the Catalaunian fields in 451.

Under Attila's sons the Huns separated and partly merged with the occidental peoples. In the great battle in Pannonia, 30,000 of them were slain. Their name has since disappeared until the Magyars who inhabited Hungarians were later mistaken for Huns. [1]


The Huns were probably of Mongolian tribe, but were strongly mixed with Turkic Tatar elements, which the contemporary historians described as dark-colored and very ugly. According to Gothic legend, the Huns were descendants of the alruns, cast in the desert by the Gothic king Filimer, who mixed with unclean spirits. Research in modern times suggested that the Huns are identical to the Hiong-nu, who lived as early as the 3rd century BC. Were feared by the Chinese and then spread to the countries of Turkestan. They lived in the steppe countries north of the Caspian Sea in individual hordes under ancestral heads who were independent of one another. Among the leaders, Balamir is mentioned first, to whom several hordes of the hordes have already submitted. After the Huns broke into Europe, they were divided into Asian and European. They are also used in the white (the more educated, the Epylallten and Nephtalites) and the Black Huns divided.


In addition to the horror spread by the number and the rapid victory of the Huns, there was the disgust caused by the shrill voice, the hulking gesture and the repulsive ugliness of the Huns. They differed (according to old descriptions) from the rest of the people by their short stature, broad shoulders and beardlessness. They had protruding cheekbones, flat noses, and deep set black, small eyes. Their clothes were made of linen or the skins of the hunted animals and they did not change them until they fell from their bodies.

Way of life

The Huns were nomads; they ate, drank and slept on their small but swift horses. They took their children and wives with them on wagons; from their youth they roamed about in the forests and mountains and learned to endure cold and hunger.


Their diet consisted of roots and raw meat that was tenderly ridden under the saddle, and mare's milk. Livestock, hunting, and robbery provided their subsistence.

Guns and Combat

The Huns used projectiles, sabers and nooses armed with pointed bones as weapons to tear their opponents from their horses and make them defenseless. They did not fight in orderly ranks, but swarmed around the hostile order of battle and were just as quick to attack as they were in apparent flight.

Residential custom

Apart from tents and huts, they knew no apartments; only later, in their seats between the Tisza and the Danube, did they develop their camp into a village where the wooden houses and where the chief's looted items were set up.


One usually counts on the invasion of the Huns in Europe Migration period. Under the Eastern Roman Emperor Flavius ​​Valens (* 328; † 378) the Huns threw themselves on the peoples living on the Palus Maeotis (now the Sea of ​​Azov) and on the north side of the Danube, and subjugated them.

Huns and Goths

In 374 the Huns crossed the Volga, crossed the Don and appeared under Balamber on the borders of the Gothic Empire. They defeated the Alans and, associated with them, the Goths. The first king of the Ostrogoths, Hermanrich, despairing of the resistance, gave himself to death in 375. His successor Winithar was defeated and killed by the Huns, whereupon the Ostrogoths submitted and the victors became compulsory. The Visigoths had to give way to the Huns and then moved to Thrace. One of their leaders, Athanaric, withdrew to Transylvania in 376; another, Fritigern, went over to Roman territory.

The Huns, meanwhile, established themselves in Russia, Poland and Hungary. But their power was fragmented under the strife of independent chiefs, and their bravery was worn out in raids; also, out of greed for prey, they often rallied under the flags of defeated enemies. Their main mass had settled among the Germanic and Sarmatian peoples they had defeated and spread in the north of the Caspian and Black Seas from the Volga to the Danube.

In the Roman Empire

Under the Western Roman Emperor Flavius ​​Gratianus (* 359; † 383) Thracia and Dacia were visited by the Huns. The Eastern Roman Emperor Flavius ​​Theodosius I, however, served Hunnic hordes for pay against the Juthunger and against Eugenius, the Emperor Honorius against Radagais and Valentinian III. against the Visigoths. Other swarms took part in the great migrations to Gaul and Spain.


Only under King Rugila (until 434) and his nephews Bleda and Attila did the Huns regain a powerful position. Rugila, the chief of the Huns in Hungary, led 60,000 Huns to the Italian border in support of the usurper Johann and received Pannonia as a gift for his warriors. He now made a campaign against Constantinople, where Theodosius I persuaded him to turn back by promising an annual tribute. Rugila died in 433 while he was preparing to move to Italy and left his kingdom to his two nephews, Attila and Bleda, the sons of Mundzuk.

Attila and Bleda

From 434, Attila and Bleda not only subjected all Hunnic hordes who had taken up residence between the Caspian Sea and the central Danube to their rule, but also forced double the previous tribute from the Eastern Roman Empire.

In 441 Attila again invaded the Illyrian provinces of the Eastern Roman Empire, defeated the Greeks and advanced as far as the Greek border. It was only stopped by ignorance in the siege war of the conquest of Constantinople and, in spite of the peace bought anew by Theodosius II, the hostilities continued.

444/445 Attila had his brother murdered and became the sole ruler of the Huns. In 445 he united the Hunnic power in one hand. By pretending to have found the sword of the god of war, Attila incited the Huns to go to war and turned against Persia. The Eastern Roman Empire was subject to tribute to him. In Armenia he was defeated, then turned west and subjugated Eastern and Central Europe to the North Sea, the Rhine and the Danube. When the new Emperor Marcian, instead of paying tribute, opposed him steadfastly, Attila turned against the Western Empire. There, however, the marriage proposal to Honoria, the sister of Valentinian III, drew him. She wanted to bring him half of the empire as marriage goods, but was locked up in a monastery.

Battle of the Catalaunian Fields

Attila broke into Gaul with 700,000 men, conquered Mainz, Speier, Strasbourg, Trier, Metz and besieged Orleans as the approach of an army of Romans, Goths, Alans, Gauls, Saxons, Franks and Burgundians under the western Roman general Aëtius forced to turn back and saved the Western Roman Empire from paying tribute. In the battle of the Catalaunian fields (near Chalons) Attila was defeated in 451 and forced to retreat. He withdrew across the Rhine; but in 452 he invaded Italy again, devastated the northern part, destroyed Aquileia and was only persuaded to turn back by an enormous ransom. He died in 453.

Fall of the Huns

After Attila's death (453) his numerous sons as well as the chiefs of the subjugated tribes fought for supremacy. On the river Netad in Pannonia (454) the Gepids, Goths, Suebi, Heruli and Alans regained their old independence. Attila's eldest son, Ellak, fell. His brother Denzices (also Dintzic, Dinzio) asserted himself on the Danube for several years; but he, too, was defeated in Thrace by the Eastern Romans Anagastus and soon afterwards killed (469).


A kind of Hun empire was formed as early as 1200 BC. A few hordes worried China in the years 1120, 910, 880 (Shansi), 700 (Shantung), 650 (Tschili), until 220 Emperor Shi Hoangti filled in the gaps in the Great Wall. The Huns' empire under Mete (around 210–170) experienced a new upswing; but Emperor Wu Ti drove out around 120 BC. The Huns in northern Mongolia. Around 50 BC The empire of the Huns was divided into a southern part, which recognized the Chinese sovereignty, completely ceased to exist in China in 142 AD and since 400 ruled parts of the great empire (the northern Liang and the great Hsia), and a northern part who survived independently until AD 84. Then the still very considerable remnant of the Huns who lived there gave way, heavily harassed by Chinese and Siberian tribes (e.g. the Tungus people of the Sien-pe), who were already occupied by the chief Chichi (d. 36 BC) .) worked out west, where it would soon play an important role.

The "White Huns" at the Aral Sea

Part of the people, the so-called "White Huns" (Euthalites, Ephthalites, Hephthalites, Chinese Tin-la, [2], settled on the Aral Sea, occupied today's Khiva, Balch and Badachschan with its capital Pah-ti-jan), attacked Persia violently since 420 (the Sasanid Peroz fell against them in 484), broke, in turn besieged by the Turks, from Tsung-ling from 495, 515 and 530 in northwest India (kingdom of the Indoskythischen Yue-chi), gradually mixed strongly with the neighbors and later appears as the people of the Khwaresmians, who conquered a piece of Persia in 1157.

The empire under Attila

How far the Hun Empire stretched to the east under Attila's leadership is uncertain. Some say as far as China, but in the west he ruled the Hunnic, Celtic, Slavic and Germanic tribes, from the Volga to deep into Central Europe. After Attila's death, his sons disagreed about the division of the empire, which the subjugated Germanic peoples used to free themselves from foreign rule. This was done first by the Gepids, against whom Ellak, Attila's favorite son, who was also destined to rule over the vast empire, fell. The Huns then had to evacuate the land on the Danube and withdraw behind Prut and Dnieper, where they again stood under various independent princes. One of them, Dagenzik (Denzices), a son of Attila, had to fight with the Ostrogoths and was killed in a battle against them in 468. As a result, the name of the Hun Empire disappears.

The whereabouts of the Huns

Attila's youngest son, Irnak (Irnach, Hernac, Irnas) led the rest of the people to the ancient steppes on the European-Asian border. After the disintegration of their empire on this side of the Don, the remaining Huns were named under the name of the Kuturgurs or Kutrigurs, on the other side (east) of this river, however, as Uturgurs or Utrigurs. The former were feared in the 6th century because of their incursions into the Eastern Roman Empire.

After 558 the name and the people of the Huns were lost among other nomadic tribes (Avars, Bulgarians, Khazars). The Attila Palace and the old Dacia from the Carpathians to the Black Sea became the seat of a new power founded by the Gepid King Ardaric. The Ostrogoths took possession of Pannonia from Vienna to Sirmium. He later revived the name of the Huns when the Magyars, who were a completely different people, were confused with them 4 centuries later and the latter were called Huns, later Hungarians. [3]

Related topics


  • De Guignes, Histoire générale des Huns, des Turcs, etc. (Par. 1756–58, 3 vols.)
  • Ephthalites or White Huns (in the "Negotiations of the Ninth International Congress of Orientalists", Vol. 1, Cunningham, 1893)
  • History of the Henng-noo in their relations with China, and Howarth, The westerly drifting of nomades, Part 12 (both in Journal of the Anthropological Institute, Vol. 3, Wylie, Lond. 1874)
  • Helmolt's "world history". 5th volume. v. Wlislocki. (Leipz. 1902 and 1905).

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Damen Conversations Lexikon, Volume 5. 1835, p. 357.
  2. ↑ Not to be confused with the Tibetan nomadic people of the Yue-chi on Altyn Day, which was feuded by the Huns in the 2nd century BC and around 10 BC. Founded the "Indoskythian Empire" in northwest India
  3. ↑ cf. The peoples of southern Russia in their historical development. Neumann. Leipzig, 1847.