Barbarian is defined as, 'a rude, coarse or brutal person' (Funk & Wagnalls 50). When one hears the name, Attila the Hun, one tends to think of him in such a negative way. Contrary to this popular belief, Attila the Hun was not a barbarian, but one of history's great leaders. The Hun kingdom was in modern-day Hungry.
The Huns were a Turkish-speaking nomadic people. Attila and his brother Belda succeeded their uncle as leaders of the Huns in 434 A.D. Attila was in the junior role, until his brother's death 12 years later. It is often said that Attila murdered Belda to obtain the throne. When Attila became leader he found a rusty old sword; he said it was the sword of Mars. The empire which he inherited was dependent on tribute, without it, the Huns could not survive. Attila brought about a turn of events for his people.
To ensure the survival of his people, in 447 AD, Attila launched an invasion of Eastern Europe. Attila created an empire that reached from the Black Sea to Germany. He was known in the west as 'The Scourge of God'... Compared to the leaders who had ruled before him, he was aggressive, ambitious, shrewd, intelligent, charismatic, and arrogant.
Attila showed his great leadership by his army of magnificent proportions. It is thought to have been the largest army of the late fifth century. Attila also showed his leadership abilities by his motivational speaking. Attila was able to speak to his soldiers before battle, inspiring them to fight even harder. Finally, Attila revealed himself as a great leader in his ability to be a military strategist. The battle of Chalons, in which Attila fought, was one of the most decisive battles in history.
One of the most important factors in Attila being a great leader was his army. Attila had an army of amazing proportions for the fifth century. Attila was able to make his army so large by taking the men from conquered cities and forcing them into his army. His army grew so large it invoked fear throughout the people of Europe.
Ancient accounts from the time say that the number of men in Attila's army, ' range between 300,000 and 700,000 for the army of the Huns. Whatever the size, it was clearly enormous for the fifth century AD' (I'm a Barbarian). Other accounts say that the size of Attila's army at the battle of Chalons was actually half a million men in strength. The battle of Chalons was a great battle in which the Romans forces fought against the Hunnic army to stave off an invasion. With his large army, Attila was able to loot and burn several of the large cities in Europe. The Huns were an army of archers who relied mainly on mobility and surprise.
The Hun army tended to attack on horseback armed with bows which were five feet in length and several quivers of arrows. These horseback soldiers could shoot arrows up to 100 meters away. When the empire of the Huns expanded, the area for grazing horses seemed to disappear in certain areas, like the Great Hungarian Plain. The Huns were forced to develop an infantry to makeup for their slowly reducing cavalry.
Without Attila's army, he would have never been able to gain the power he obtained. Attila would never have become such a great leader without the help of his huge army. Another important factor that contributed to Attila being a great leader, was his ability to deliver motivational speeches to his troop right before battle. Attila often gave his troops an encouraging speech to raise the moral of his soldiers before a fight. With motivational speaking, Attila was able to encourage his soldiers to fight hard and to fight well.
His army was often said to actually enjoy warfare. On the night of the battle of Chalons, Attila gave his army a speech. He said, Here you stand after conquering mighty nations and subduing the world. I therefore think it foolish for me to goad you with words, as though you were men who had not been proved in action. Let a new leader or untried army resort to that. It is not right for me to say anything common, nor ought you to listen.
For what is war but your usual custom? Or what is sweeter for a brave man than to seek revenge with his own hand? It is a right of nature to glut the soul with vengeance. Let us then attack the foe eagerly, for they are ever the bolder who make the attack (COMSIC BASEBALL ASSOCIATION-1997 ATTILA THE HUN). In this segment of the speech, Attila tells his soldiers that if they attack first they will seem like the bolder people. He says that he will not flatter them with words, that there is no need for flattery since his men would prove their ability in battle.
This shows Atilla's shrewdness, he is eager to get into battle and wants his soldiers to be sly and brave. This also illustrates Attila's arrogance, believing that his soldiers will appear braver if they make the first move. He continues to state, Despise this union of discordant races. To defend oneself by alliance is proof of cowardice. See, even before our attack, they are smitten with terror. They seek the heights, they seize the hills and, repenting too late, clamour for protection against battle in the open fields.
You know how slight a matter the Roman attack is. While they are still gathering in order and forming in one line with locked shields, they are checked, I will not say by the first wound, but even by the dust of battle. Then on to the fray with stout hearts, as is your wont. Despise their battle line. Attack the Alans, smite the Visigoths. Seek swift victory in that spot where the battle rages, for when the sinews are cut the limbs soon relax, nor can a body stand when you have taken away the bones.
Let your courage rise and your own fury burst forth man (COMSIC BASEBALL ASSOCIATION-1997 ATTILA THE HUN). In this segment of the speech Attila tells his army to hate the peoples that have allied to fight against them. He says that they are already scared of the Huns simply by knowing the Huns' reputation. He says that the Romans battling them are of little importance and that he has confidence that his soldiers will fight bravely and secure a victory. This shows Attila's aggressive side.
He wants them to be strong and fight hard. He further says, Now show your cunning, Huns, now your deeds of arms. Let the wounded exact in return the death of his foe. Let the unwounded revel in slaughter of the enemy. No spear shall harm those who are sure to live, and those who are sure to die fate overtakes even in peace. And, finally, why should fortune have made the Huns victorious over so many nations unless it were to prepare them for the joy of this conflict?
Who was it revealed to our sires the path through the Maeotian swamp, for so many ages a closed secret? Who made armed men yield to you when you were as yet unarmed? Even a mass of federated nations could not endure the sight of the Huns. I am not deceived in this issue. Here is the field so many victories have promised us.
I shall hurl the first spear at the foe. If any man can stand at rest while Attila fights, he is a dead man (COMSIC BASEBALL ASSOCIATION-1997 ATTILA THE HUN). In this final segment of the speech Attila tells his men that it is their fate to be victorious. He says that they have won so many battles thus far, that they shall win again for sure.
He says that these allied forces are scared by the very sight of the Huns. He says that all their victories have led them to this one place, and that they must prevail victorious. He says that he will fight with his men, and that any soldier on the other side who is not ready will surely die by their hands. Overall this speech shows how charismatic Attila was.
This speech is extremely motivational, leading the Hun army to believe that it is their fate and destiny to conquer the Romans. This speech raised the confidence of the soldiers, by their leader telling them that it was predetermined that they would win the battle and by their leader telling them that he would fight at their side, and that anyone not prepared to face the wrath of Attila and his Huns would be certainly killed. This is the only speech of Attila's ever recorded. It was recorded by the ancient historian Jordanes. Despite the encouraging words that Attila gave his troops, his army did lose the battle of Chalons. But this defeat was not a setback.
Attila had already had several other victories. In 450 AD Attila's army had conquered all of Asia. Attila's ability to be a motivational speaker also allowed him to give a different impression of his people to the negotiators who visited him at his camp. A Roman negotiator named Pricus was once sent to Attila's camp by the government, when he got there he was amazed by how different the Huns were from the fearsome descriptions given earlier by others.
Attila's ability to speak to his troops and coax them to do better on the field enabled him to have many victories and to cast his people in a different light than generally accepted in the western world... This property of Attila's character made him the great leader that he was. Finally, Attila's leadership is shown in the Battle of Chalons. The Battle of Chalons is said to have been one of the most decisive battles in the history of the world.
It was also one of the most bloody. This battle best illustrates Attila's ability as a decisive battle planner. The Battle of Chalons took place on the Catalaunian Plains on June 20th, 451 A.D. Attila was about to get a surrender from the Roman city of Orleans when the combined Roman and Visigoth armies arrived to stop him. Attila fought against Flavius Aetius. During the fifth century, Rome had faced many obstacles, Aetius had done more than anyone else to keep the remainder of the Roman world strong and thriving. By the time the battle of Chalons took place, Aetius was a foremost general in the Roman empire and the chief political adviser to the Emperor, Valentin ian.
The armies were said to have been set up like this, On the right wing of the Hunnic army... Germanic allies. The Ostrogoths fought on the left, ... in the centre Attila took position with his best troops, the Huns. On the other side Aetius... put his least reliable troops, the Alans, in the center to whatever assault Attila directed towards them. The Visigoths were... on the Roman right, and the Romans themselves took the left. Aetius... execute a double envelopment, hitting hard against the two weak flanks of Attila's army while fighting a defensive, holding action...
Attila struck hard against the Alans... As he drove them back the Romans on his right moved... in a sharp attack. The forward momentum of the Huns in the centre exposed their flank to an attack by... the Visigoths, and as night fell, the Huns had taken a beating... Attila retreated... and the archers of the Huns kept the Romans at bay (I'm a Barbarian). The next day Attila retreated back across the Rhine River. Aetius allowed the Huns to retreat because he knew that if the Huns were destroyed the Visigoths would quickly overrun Gaul.
This battle was the first, and only battle Attila ever lost. Despite the fact that he lost this battle, it clearly shows his ability to be a decisive battle planner. Before this battle, Attila had made several victories. One year after the defeat at Chalons (452 AD), Attila invaded Italy. He crossed the Alps and launched a great invasion. The Huns wiped the city of Aquileia off the face of the earth.
The Huns pillaged and destroyed all of Northern Italy. After Attila had destroyed the cities of Aquileia, Milan, Padua, and more, the Huns advanced upon Rome. Attila, however, did not take over Rome. Legend says that he was persuaded to retreat by Pope Leo I, who threatened Attila that if he did not turn back, he would receive instant death from St. Peter. It is more likely that Attila left because there was a shortage of food, a plague had killed several of his soldiers and there was a threat of an army from the east invading the Hun empire. Even though the Huns had been defeated at Chalons, they were still a powerful threat to the European world.
Atilla the Hun was not a crude, vicious man, but in fact a great leader in history. He was able to be a great leader because of his huge army, which was the largest of that time. He was a motivational speaker, enabling him to motivate his troops. He was a strategist, making him victorious in many campaigns. Attila the Hun was a great leader during his life. Even after his defeat at Chalons, Attila continued to fight.
In 453, Attila died. Attila had just married a young girl, named Il dico. On his wedding night he got extremely drunk. There are two speculations as to how he died, the first that he was poisoned by his new wife. The second that during the night he suffered a nosebleed and drowned in his own blood. Without his great leadership, the empire he had created could not survive.
With Attila dead, the Huns were no longer a mortal threat to the Romans. What was left of Attila's Huns regrouped, and formed the Bulgari. Without Attila's leadership, the Huns could simply not survive. Attila was a great leader, one who his people were dependent on for the foundation upon which their empire rested: tributes.
Without Attila, the Huns were no longer a force to be feared, and no longer received the tributes needed to maintain their vast empire.
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