Attila the Hun
Attila (406 – 453) ruled a multi-tribal empire dominated by the Huns, that spanned Eastern and Central Europe. During his reign, 434 – 453, he earned the moniker “The Scourge of God”, as he terrified the civilized world, invaded Persia, terrorized the Eastern and Western Roman Empires, plundered the Balkans, extorted vast sums of gold from Constantinople, invaded Gaul and was beaten back, recoiled, then struck into Italy the following year, before drinking himself to death on his wedding night.
He was born in the Hungarian Steppe in 406 into the Hun royal family and inherited the crown jointly with his brother Bleda in 434. The brothers were challenged early on, but crushed the opposition. When their surviving enemies fled to the Roman Empire, the brothers invaded and forced the Romans to surrender the fugitives and agree to an annual tribute of 230 kilograms of gold. Attila and Bleda then turned their attention to the Persian Empire, which they invaded and plundered for years before they were beaten, at which point they returned their attention to Europe.
Crossing the Danube in 440, the brothers plundered the Balkans and destroyed two Roman armies. The Roman emperor admitted defeat, and the brothers extorted from him a new treaty that paid 2000 gold kilograms upfront, plus an annual tribute of 700 gold kgs. Soon thereafter, Attila consolidated power by murdering his brother and becoming sole ruler. In 447, Attila returned to the Balkans, which he ravaged until he reached the walls of Constantinople, before recoiling.
In 450, the Western Roman Emperor’s sister sought to escape a betrothal by begging Attila’s help and sent him her engagement ring. He interpreted that as a marriage proposal, accepted, and asked for half of the Western Roman Empire as dowry. When the Romans balked, Attila invaded, visiting his customary devastation, before he was finally stopped at Chalons in 451.
The following year, he invaded Italy, sacking and burning as he advanced down the peninsula before he was persuaded by the Pope to withdraw. He planned to attack Constantinople again in 453, but his rampage finally ended that year, when he drank himself into a stupor while celebrating his wedding to a new wife, suffered a nosebleed, and choked to death on his own blood.
Also Read: Ten Things You Did Not Know About Attila The Hun.