20 Historical Rulers Who Murdered Members Of Their Own Family

“Attila and his Hordes Overrun Italy and the Arts”, by Eugene Delacroix (c. 1843-1847). Wikimedia Commons.

18. Attila, the ruler of the Huns, is believed to have murdered his brother and co-ruler to obtain sole control over the nomadic warrior nation

Attila, commonly known as Attila the Hun, was the ruler of a tribal empire spanning the Huns, Ostrogoths, and Alans from 434 CE until his death in 453. A nomadic people inhabiting Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe, the Huns were highly militaristic people. Responsible for conquering the Goths and large parts of Germania, under Attila’s leadership the Huns posed a persistent threat to the Eastern Roman Empire, although his efforts proved insufficient to conquer Constantinople. Attila, along with his elder brother Bleda, succeeded to the Hunnic throne after the childless death of their uncle, Rugila, electing to rule, at least to begin with, collaboratively.

This partnership proved initially unsuccessful, with the Huns withdrawing from Roman territories under a consolidated peace and suffering defeat in Armenia. Rewarded by the distraction of Constantinople by the Vandal capture of Carthage, the duo seized modern-day Belgrade and Sofia before besieging Constantinople itself. Soon after their withdrawal from Byzantium, Bleda suddenly died in 445. Whilst the cause of death is unclear, classical accounts indicate that Attila slew his brother and claimed absolute authority. According to some records, Bleda struck first, attempting to murder Attila on a hunting trip; the superior warrior, Attila responded by killing Bleda instead.