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For other uses, see Hun (disambiguation)."Hunnic" redirects here. For other uses, see Hunnic (disambiguation)."Hungars" redirects here. For the community in Virginia, see Hungars Point, Virginia.The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and built up an enormous empire in Europe. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns, considerable scholarly effort has been devoted to investigating such a connection. However, there is no evidence for a direct connection between the dominant element of the Xiongnu and that of the Huns. A contemporary mentions that the Huns had a language of their own; very little of it has survived and its relationships have been the subject of debate for centuries. According to predominant theories, their language was a Turkic language. Numerous other languages were spoken within the Hun pax including East Germanic. Their main military technique was mounted archery. The Huns may have propelled the Great Migration, a contributing factor in the collapse of the western Roman Empire. They formed a unified empire under Attila the Hun, who died in 453; their empire broke up the next year. Their descendants, or successors with similar names, are recorded by neighbouring populations to the south, east, and west as having occupied parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia roughly from the 4th century to the 6th century. Variants of the Hun name are recorded in the Caucasus until the early 8th century. Appearance and customs, All surviving accounts were written by enemies of the Huns, and none describe the Huns as attractive either morally or in appearance. Jordanes, a Goth writing in Italy in 551, a century after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire, describes the Huns as a "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." "They made their foes flee in horror because their swarthy aspect was fearful, and they had, if I may call it so, a sort of shapeless lump, not a head, with pin-holes rather than eyes. Their hardihood is evident in their wild appearance, and they are beings who are cruel to their children on the very day they are born. For they cut the cheeks of the males with a sword, so that before they receive the nourishment of milk they must learn to endure wounds. Hence they grow old beardless and their young men are without comeliness, because a face furrowed by the sword spoils by its scars the natural beauty of a beard. They are short in stature, quick in bodily movement, alert horsemen, broad shouldered, ready in the use of bow and arrow, and have firm-set necks which are ever erect in pride. Though they live in the form of men, they have the cruelty of wild beasts."Jordanes also recounted how Priscus had described Attila the Hun, the Emperor of the Huns from 434-453, as: "Short of stature, with a broad chest and a large head; his eyes were small, his beard thin and sprinkled with grey; and he had a flat nose and tanned skin, showing evidence of his origin." Society and culture: The Huns kept herds of cattle, horses, goats, and sheep. Their other sources of food consisted of wild game and the roots of wild plants. For clothes they had round caps, trousers or leggings made from goat skin, and either linen or rodent skin tunics. Ammianus reports that they wore these clothes until the clothes fell to pieces. Priscus describes Attila's clothes as different from his men only in being clean. In warfare they utilized the bow and javelin. The arrowheads and javelin tips were made from bone. They also fought using iron swords and lassos in close combat. The Hun sword was a long, straight, double-edged sword of early Sassanian style. These swords were hung from a belt using the scabbard-slide method, which kept the weapon vertical. The Huns also employed a smaller short sword or large dagger which was hung horizontally across the belly. A symbol of status among the Huns was a gilded bow. Sword and dagger grips also were decorated with gold. With the arrival of the Huns, a separate tradition of composite bows arrived in Europe. Each siyah was stiffened by two laths, as in the longstanding Levantine tradition, and the grip by three. Therefore, each bow possessed seven grip and ear laths, compared with none on the Scythian and Sarmatian bows and four (ear) laths on the Middle Eastern Yrzi bow. Ammianus mentions that the Huns had no kings but were instead led by nobles. For serious matters they formed councils and deliberated from horseback. Jordanes and Ammianus report that the Huns practiced scarification, slashing the faces of their male infants with swords to discourage beard growth. Another custom of the Huns was to strap their children's noses flat from an early age, in order to widen their faces, as to increase the terror their looks instilled upon their enemies. Certain Hun skeletons have shown evidence of artificially deformed skulls that are a result of ritual head binding at a young age. Origin, Traditionally, historians have associated the Huns who appeared on the borders of Europe in the 4th century with the Xiongnu who migrated out of the Mongolia region in the 1st century AD. However the evidence for this has not been definitive (see below), and the debates have continued ever since Joseph de Guignes first suggested it in the 18th century. Due to the lack of definitive evidence, a school of modern scholarship in the West instead uses an ethnogenesis approach in explaining the Huns' origin. Modern ethnogenesis interpretation: Contemporary literary sources do not provide a clear understanding of Hun origins. The Huns seem to "suddenly appear", first mentioned during an attack on the Alans, who are generally connected to the River Don (Tanais). Scholarship from the early twentieth century literature connected the sudden and apparently devastating Hun appearance as a predatory migration from the more easterly parts of the steppe, i.e. Central Asia. This interpretation has been constructed on rather sketchy and hypothetical etymological and historical connections. More recent theories view the large and powerful nomadic confederacies, such as the Huns, as the formation of several different cultural, political and linguistic entities that could dissolve as quickly as they formed, entailing a process of ethnogenesis. A group of "warrior" horse-nomads would conquer and/or be joined by other warrior groups throughout western Eurasia, and in turn extracted tribute over a territory that included other social and ethnic groups, including sedentary agricultural peoples. In steppe society, clans could forge new alliances and subservience by incoporating other clans, creating a new common ancestral lineage descended from an early heroic leader. Thus, one cannot expect to find a clear origin. "All we can say safely," says Walter Pohl, "is that the name Huns, in late antiquity (4th century), described prestigious ruling groups of steppe warriors." The name Hun was used to refer to groups over wide and often discontiguous geographic regions, referred to by disparate sources (including Indic, Persian, Chinese, Byzantine, Roman). After the Hun era in Europe, Greek or Latin chroniclers continued to use the term "Huns" to tribal groups who they placed in the Black Sea region. Traditional Xiongnu theory: Debate about the Asian origin of the Huns has been ongoing since the 18th century when Joseph de Guignes first suggested that the Huns should be identified as the Xiongnu of Chinese sources. de Guignes focused on the genealogy of political entities and gave little attention to whether the Huns were the physical descendants of the Xiongnu. Yet his idea, which comes in the context of the ethnocentric and nationalistic scholarship of the late 18th and 19th centuries, gained traction and was modified over time to encompass the ideals of the Romantics. Evidence for the link with Xiongnu Other indirect evidence includes the transmission of grip laths for composite bows from Central Asia to the west and the similarity of Xiongnu and Hunnic cauldrons, which were buried on river banks both in Hungary and in the Ordos. The ancient Sogdian letters from the 4th century mention Huns, while the Chinese sources write Xiongnu, in the context of the sacking of Luoyang. However there is a historical gap of 300 years between the Chinese and later sources. As Peter Heather writes "The ancestors of our 4th Century European Huns could even have been a part of the 1st century Xiongnu confederation, without being the 'real' Xiongnu. Even if we do make some sort of connection between the fourth-century Huns and the first century Xiongnu, an awful lot of water has passed under an awful lot of bridges in the three hundred years worth of lost history." Evidence against the link with Xiongnu The Huns practiced artificial cranial deformation, while there is no evidence of such practice among the Xiongnu. Ammianus and Jordanes mention the Huns as scarifying infants' faces to prevent the later growth of beards; the Chinese recorded General Ran Min having led a military campaign against a faction of the Xiongnu Confederation called the Jie, who were described as having full beards, around Ye in 349 AD. A specific passage in the Chinese Book of Wei (Wei-shu) is often cited as definitive proof in the identity of the Huns as the Xiongnu. It appears to say that the Xiongnu conquered the Alans (Su-Te 粟特) around the same time as recorded by Western sources. This theory hinged upon the identity of the Su-Te as the Yan-Cai (奄蔡), as claimed by the Wei-shu. Similar passages are also found in the Bei-Shi and the Zhou-Shu. Critical analysis of these Chinese texts reveals that certain chapters in the Book of Wei had been copied from the Bei-Xi by Song editors, including the chapter on the Xiongnu. The Bei-Shi author assembled his text by making selections from earlier sources, the Zhou-Shu among them. The Zhou-Shu does not mention the Xiongnu in its version of the chapter in question. Additionally, the Book of the Later Han (Hou-Han-Shu) treats the Su-Te and the Yan-Cai as distinct nations. Lastly, Su-Te has been positively identified as Sogdiana and the Yan-Cai with the Hephthalites. Other ancient theories: Jordanes attributes their origins to the intercourse of Gothic witches and unclean spirits. Ammianus reported that they arrived from the north, near the 'ice bound ocean', prompting suggestions of Finno-Ugrian roots. Language, Further information: Hunnic languageThe literary sources, Priscus and Jordanes, preserve only a few names and three words of the language of the Huns, which have been studied for more than a century and a half. Our sources do not give the meaning of any of the names, only of the three words. These words (medos, kamos, strava) do not seem to be Turkic, but probably a satem Indo-European language similar to Slavic and Dacian. Traditionally notable studies include that of Pritsak 1982, "The Hunnic Language of the Attila Clan.", who concluded: "It was not a Turkic language, but one between Turkic and Mongolian, probably closer to the former than the latter. The language had strong ties to Old Bulgarian and to modern Chuvash, but also had some important connections, especially lexical and morphological, to Ottoman and Yakut.", "The Turkic situation has no validity for Hunnic, which belonged to a separate Altaic group." On the basis of the existing sparse name records, a number of scholars suggest that the Huns spoke a Turkic language of the Oghur branch, which also includes Bulgar, Avar, Khazar and Chuvash languages. English scholar Peter Heather called the Huns "the first group of Turkic, as opposed to Iranian, nomads to have intruded into Europe". Maenchen-Helfen held that many of the tribal names among the Huns were Turkic. However, the evidence is very scant (a few names and three (non-Turkic) words), thus scholars currently conclude that the Hunnic language cannot presently be classified; and attempts to classify it as Turkic and Mongolic are speculatory. A variety of languages were spoken within the Hun pax. Roman sources, e.g. Priscus, recorded that Latin, Gothic, "Hun" and other local 'Scythian" languages were spoken. Based on some etymological interpretation of the words strava and medos, and subsequent historical appearance, the latter has been taken to include a form of pre-Slavic language. , History, Pre-Attila: See also: XionitesBy 139 AD, the geographer Ptolemy writes that the "Huni" (Χοῦνοι or Χουνοἰ) are between the Bastarnae and the Roxolani in the Pontic area under the rule of Suni. He lists the beginning of the 2nd century, although it is not known for certain if these people were the Huns. It is possible that the similarity between the names "Huni" (Χοῦνοι) and "Hunnoi" (Ουννοι) is only a coincidence considering that while the West Romans often wrote Chunni or Chuni, the East Romans never used the guttural Χ at the beginning of the name. The 5th century Armenian historian Moses of Khorene, in his "History of Armenia," introduces the Hunni near the Sarmatians and describes their capture of the city of Balkh ("Kush" in Armenian) sometime between 194 and 214, which explains why the Greeks call that city Hunuk. The Huns first appeared in Europe in the 4th century. They show up north of the Black Sea around 370. The Huns crossed the Volga river and attacked the Alans, who were then subjugated. Jordanes reports that the Huns were led at this time by Balamber while modern historians question his existence, seeing instead an invention by the Goths to explain who defeated them. The Huns and Alans started plundering Greuthungic settlements. The Greuthungic king, Ermanaric, committed suicide and his great-nephew, Vithimiris, took over. Vithimiris was killed during a battle against the Alans and Huns in 376. This resulted in the subjugation of most of the Ostrogoths. Vithimiris' son, Viderichus, was only a child so command of the remaining Ostrogothic refugee army fell to Alatheus and Saphrax. The refugees streamed into Thervingic territory, west of the Dniester. With a part of the Ostrogoths on the run, the Huns next came to the territory of the Visigoths, led by Athanaric. Athanaric, not to be caught off guard, sent an expeditionary force beyond the Dniester. The Huns avoided this small force and attacked Athanaric directly. The Goths retreated into the Carpathians. Support for the Gothic chieftains diminished as refugees headed into Thrace and towards the safety of the Roman garrisons. In 395 the Huns began their first large-scale attack on the East Roman Empire. Huns attacked in Thrace, overran Armenia, and pillaged Cappadocia. They entered parts of Syria, threatened Antioch, and swarmed through the province of Euphratesia. Emperor Theodosius left his armies in the West so the Huns stood unopposed until the end of 398 when the eunuch Eutropius gathered together a force composed of Romans and Goths and succeeded in restoring peace. During their momentary diversion from the East Roman Empire, the Huns appear to have moved further west as evidenced by Radagaisus' entering Italy at the end of 405 and the crossing of the Rhine into Gaul by Vandals, Sueves, and Alans in 406. The Huns do not then appear to have been a single force with a single ruler. Many Huns were employed as mercenaries by both East and West Romans and by the Goths. Uldin, the first Hun known by name, headed a group of Huns and Alans fighting against Radagaisus in defense of Italy. Uldin was also known for defeating Gothic rebels giving trouble to the East Romans around the Danube and beheading the Goth Gainas around 400-401. Gainas' head was given to the East Romans for display in Constantinople in an apparent exchange of gifts. The East Romans began to feel the pressure again in 408 by Uldin's Huns. Uldin crossed the Danube and captured a fortress in Moesia named Castra Martis. The fortress was betrayed from within. Uldin then proceeded to ransack Thrace. The East Romans tried to buy Uldin off, but his sum was too high so they instead bought off Uldin's subordinates. This resulted in many desertions from Uldin's group of Huns. Alaric's brother-in-law, Athaulf, appears to have had Hun mercenaries in his employ south of the Julian Alps in 409. These were countered by another small band of Huns hired by Honorius' minister Olympius. Later in 409, the West Romans stationed ten thousand Huns in Italy and Dalmatia to fend off Alaric, who then abandoned plans to march on Rome. Unified Empire under Attila: Under the leadership of Attila the Hun, the Huns achieved hegemony over several major rivals. Supplementing their wealth by plundering and raising tribute from Roman cities to the south, the Huns maintained the loyalties of a number of tributary tribes including elements of the Gepids, Scirii, Rugians, Sarmatians, and Ostrogoths. The only lengthy first-hand report of conditions among the Huns is by Priscus, who formed part of an embassy to Attila. After Attila: After Attila's death, his son Ellac overcame his brothers Dengizich and Ernakh (Irnik) to become king of the Huns. However, former subjects soon united under Ardaric, leader of the Gepids, against the Huns at the Battle of Nedao in 454. This defeat and Ellac's death ended the European supremacy of the Huns, and soon afterwards they disappear from contemporary records. The Pannonian basin then was occupied by the Gepids, whilst various Gothic groups remained in the Balkans also. Later historians provide brief look of the dispersal and renaming of Attila's people. According to tradition, after Ellac's loss and death, his brothers ruled over two separate, but closely related hordes on the steppes north of the Black Sea. Dengizich is believed to have been king (khan) of the Kutrigur Bulgars, and Ernakh king (khan) of the Utigur Bulgars, whilst Procopius claimed that Kutrigurs and Utigurs were named after, and led by two of the sons of Ernakh. Such distinctions are uncertain and the situation is not likely to have been so clear cut. Some Huns remained in Pannonia for some time before they were slaughtered by Goths. Others took refuge within the East Roman Empire, namely in Dacia Ripensis and Scythia Minor. Possibly, other Huns and nomadic groups retreated to the steppe. Indeed, subsequently, new confederations appear such as Kutrigur, Utigur, Onogur / (Onoghur), Sarigur, etc., which were collectively called "Huns","Bulgarian Huns", or "Bulgars". Similarly, the 6th century Slavs were presented as Hun groups by Procopius. However, it is likely that Graeco-Roman sources habitually equated new barbarian political groupings with old tribes. This was partly due to expectation that contemporary writers emulate the 'great writers' of preceding eras. Apart from exigencies in style was the belief that barbarians from particular areas were all the same, no matter how they changed their name. Chroniclers writing centuries later often mentioned or alluded to Huns or their purported descendants. These include: Theophylact Simocatta, Annales Fuldenses, Annales Alemannici, Annals of Salzburg, Liutprand of Cremona's Antapodosis, Regino of Prüm's chronicle, Widukind of Corvey's Saxon Chronicle, Nestor the Chronicler's Primary Chronicle, Legends of Saints Cyril and Methodius, Aventinus's Chronicon Bavaria, Constantine VII's De Administrando Imperio, and, Leo VI the Wise's Tactica., Mediaeval Hungarians continued this tradition (see Gesta Hunnorum et Hungarorum, Chronicon Pictum, Gesta Hungarorum). Legends, Memory of the Hunnic conquest was transmitted orally among Germanic peoples and is an important component in the Old Norse Völsunga saga and Hervarar saga and in the Middle High German Nibelungenlied. These stories all portray Migration Period events from a millennium earlier. In the Hervarar saga, the Goths make first contact with the bow-wielding Huns and meet them in an epic battle on the plains of the Danube. In the Nibelungenlied, Kriemhild marries Attila (Etzel in German) after her first husband Siegfried was murdered by Hagen with the complicity of her brother, King Gunther. She then uses her power as Etzel's wife to take a bloody revenge in which not only Hagen and Gunther but all Burgundian knights find their death at festivities to which she and Etzel had invited them. In the Völsunga saga, Attila (Atli in Norse) defeats the Frankish king Sigebert I (Sigurðr or Siegfried) and the Burgundian King Guntram (Gunnar or Gunther), but is later assassinated by Queen Fredegund (Gudrun or Kriemhild), the sister of the latter and wife of the former. During a 16th-century peasant revolt in southern Norway, the rebels claimed, during their trial, that they expected the "Hun king Atle" to come from the north with a great host. Also, in the novel Dracula, the title character says that he is a descendant of Attila. Successor realms, See also: Kutrigurs and UtigursMany nations and ethnic groups have tried to assert themselves as ethnic, or cultural successors to the Huns. For instance, the Nominalia of the Bulgarian Khans may indicate that they believed to have descended from Attila. There are many similarities between Hunnic and Bulgar cultures, such as the practice of artificial cranial deformation. This along with other archaeological evidence suggest perhaps a strong continuity between the two cultures. The most characteristic weapons of the Huns and early Bulgars (a particular type of composite bow and a long, straight, double edged sword of the Sassanid type, etc.) are virtually identical in appearance. The Magyars (Hungarians) in particular lay claim to Hunnic heritage. Although Magyar tribes only began to settle in the geographical area of present-day Hungary in the very end of the 9th century, some 450 years after the dissolution of the Hunnic tribal confederation, Hungarian prehistory includes Magyar origin legends, which may have preserved some elements of historical truth. The Huns who invaded Europe represented a loose coalition of various peoples, so some Magyars might have been part of it, or may later have joined descendants of Attila's men, who still claimed the name of Huns. The national anthem of Hungary describes the Hungarians as "blood of Bendegúz'" (the medieval and modern Hungarian version of Mundzuk, Attila's father). Attila's brother Bleda is called Buda in modern Hungarian. The city of Buda has been said to derive its name from him. Until the early 20th century, many Hungarian historians believed that the Székely people were the descendants of the Huns, but that is no longer the scholarly consensus. In 2005, a group of about 2,500 Hungarians petitioned the government for recognition of minority status as direct descendants of Attila. The bid failed, but gained some publicity for the group, which formed in the early 1990s and appears to represent a special Hungarian-centric brand of mysticism. The self-proclaimed Huns are not known to possess any distinctly Hunnic culture or language beyond what would be available from historical and modern-mystical Hungarian sources. After the breakdown of the Hun Empire, they never regained their lost glory. One reason was that the Huns never fully established the mechanisms of a state, such as bureaucracy and taxes, unlike Bulgars, Magyars or the Golden Horde. Once disorganized, the Huns were absorbed by more organized polities. Like the Avars after them, once the Hun political unity failed there was no way to re-create it, especially because the Huns had become a multiethnic empire under Attila. The Hun Empire included, at least nominally, a great host of diverse peoples, each of whom may be considered 'descendants' of the Huns. However, given that the Huns were a political creation, and not a consolidated people, or nation, their defeat in 454 marked the end of that political creation. Newer polities which later arose might have consisted of people formerly in the Hun confederacy, and carrying closely related steppe cultures, but they were new political creations. 20th-century use in reference to Germans, On July 27, 1900, during the Boxer Rebellion in China, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany gave the order to act ruthlessly towards the rebels: "Mercy will not be shown, prisoners will not be taken. Just as a thousand years ago, the Huns under Attila won a reputation of might that lives on in legends, so may the name of Germany in China, such that no Chinese will even again dare so much as to look askance at a German." This speech gave rise to later use of the term "Hun" for the Germans during World War I. The comparison was helped by the Pickelhaube or spiked helmet worn by German forces until 1916, which was reminiscent of images depicting ancient Hun helmets. An alternative reason sometimes given for the use of the term was the motto Gott mit uns (God with us) on German soldiers' belt buckles during World War I. It is suggested that the word uns was mistaken for Huns. This usage, emphasising the idea that the Germans were barbarians, was reinforced by Allied propaganda throughout the war. The French songwriter Theodore Botrel described the Kaiser as "an Attila, without remorse", launching "cannibal hordes". The usage of the term "Hun" to describe a German resurfaced during World War II. For example Winston Churchill referred in 1941 to the invasion of the Soviet Union as "the dull, drilled, docile brutish masses of the Hun soldiery, plodding on like a swarm of crawling locusts.". During this time American President F. Roosevelt also referred to the German people in this way, saying that an Allied invasion into the south of France would surely "be successful and of great assistance to Eisenhower in driving the Huns from France." Nevertheless, its use was less widespread than in the previous war. British and American WWII troops more often used the term "Jerry" or "Kraut" for their German opponents.