Attila the Hun

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Attila (pronounced /ˈætɨlə/ or /əˈtɪlə/; 406–453), also known as Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns from 434 until his death in 453. He was leader of the Hunnic Empire, which stretched from Germany to the Ural River and from the Danube River to the Baltic Sea. During his rule, he was one of the most fearsome enemies of the Western and Eastern Roman Empire. He invaded the Balkans twice and marched through Gaul (modern France) as far as Orléans before being defeated at the Battle of Châlons. He refrained from attacking either Constantinople or Rome.


Appearance, character

There is no surviving first-person account of Attila's appearance. There is, however, a possible second-hand source, provided by Jordanes, who cites a description given by Priscus. It suggests a person of Asian features.[1]

Etymology of the name

The origin of Attila's name is not known with confidence. Pritsak considers it to mean "universal ruler" in a Turkic language related to Danube Bulgarian.[3] Maenchen-Helfen suggests an East Germanic origin and rejects a Turkic etymology: "Attila is formed from Gothic or Gepidic atta, "father," by means of the diminutive suffix -ila." He suggests that Pritsak's etymology is "ingenious but for many reasons unacceptable". However, he suggests that these names were "not the true names of the Hun princes and lords. What we have are Hunnic names in Germanic dress, modified to fit the Gothic tongue, or popular Gothic etymologies, or both. Mikkola thought Attila might go back to Turkish atlïg, "famous"; [127] Poucha finds in it Tokharian atär, "hero." [128] The first etymology is too farfetched to be taken seriously, the second is nonsense."[4]

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