Ruthless and unpredictable, few armies have been as terrifying as the Huns. Descending on a town like a whirlwind from hell, the savage horsemen killed indiscriminately – combatants and civilians, men and women, adults and children. With this military acumen, the Huns created an empire that stretched east to west from the Caspian Sea to the Rhine River and north to south from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. The fullest extent of this empire was achieved under the Huns powerful leader, Attila, Scourge of God.
Recently, scholars have begun to re-examine the Huns’ image. By all accounts, the Huns were an illiterate tribe; at the very least, they left behind no written evidence about their histories and opinions. What we know about the Huns comes mainly from commentaries written by Romans, frequent victims of Hunnic attacks. Undoubtedly, the Huns were ferocious warriors, but were they really the demonic savages history has painted them as?
The Huns: Otherworldly Beasts of Roman Propaganda
“We learn from old traditions that their origin was as follows: Filimer, king of the Goths, son of Gadaric the Great, who was the fifth in succession to hold the rule of the Getae, after their departure from the island of Scandza…found among his people certain witches. Suspecting these women, he expelled them from the midst of his race and compelled them to wander in solitary exile afar from his army. There the unclean spirits, who beheld them as they wandered through the wilderness, bestowed their embraces upon them and begat this savage race, which dwelt at first in the swamps, a stunted, foul and puny tribe, scarcely human and having no language save one which bore but slight resemblance to human speech.” (Jordanes quoted in Mark, 2014).
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