Rethinking Attila the Hun

Attila the Hun, called the “scourge of god” in the 5th century, has historically been considered a ruthless barbarian for his campaign against the Romans' eastern empire, but new thought shows the king to be somewhat more complex. Owen Jarus has a feature story for Live Science.

From the article:

While his name has become synonymous with conquest and destruction, a careful look at historical records reveals a more complex picture. While he was responsible for destroying Roman cities he was, at one point, an ally of the western half of the Roman Empire, helping them fight other “barbarian” groups including the Burgundians and Goths. The Roman Empire had split in two by his lifetime, with the western half controlling little more than Italy and part of France.

Also while his people amassed an incredible amount of plunder, and blackmailed the eastern half of the Roman Empire out of thousands of pounds of gold, Attila himself was said to have lived relatively simply. The Roman diplomat Priscus attended a banquet with Attila and wrote that a “luxurious meal, served on silver plate, had been made ready for us and the barbarian guests, but Attila ate nothing but meat on a wooden trencher,” (translation by J.B. Bury, through Georgetown University website).

“In everything else, too, he showed himself temperate; his cup was of wood, while to the guests were given goblets of gold and silver. His dress, too, was quite simple, affecting only to be clean.” His shoes, sword and horse bridle were also unadorned.