The Huns

LUKE: Jess? [Luke turns the music off] How can anyone sleep through that? It’s like the Huns are attacking and you’re just – well, you’re oblivious and that’s why you can just lie there while the rest of the world is going – . [he knocks over his little television] Great! Dammit! Dammit! Dammit! Dammit!

The Huns were a nomadic people who lived in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe between the 4th and 6th centuries. Most likely originating from the Central Asian steppes, Europeans first reported Huns living east of the Volga River, in what was called Scythia at the time. By 430 they had established a vast, if short-lived, dominion in Europe, conquering the Goths and other Germanic tribes, and driving them into Roman territory.

Under their formidable ruler Attila, they made frequent, devastating raids into the East Roman Empire, and invaded Gaul and Italy. After Attila’s death in 453, they ceased to be a major threat to Rome, and lost most of their empire. The Huns may have helped stimulate the massive tribal migrations which were a factor in the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Memories of them were preserved in the lives of the saints and in Germanic legend, where they appear as the antagonist.

Modern culture popularly considers them as cruel and barbaric, partly because the Huns encouraged this thinking. They were probably no more so than other people of the time, although certainly fearsome in battle.

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