Attila ( or ; 406–453), also known as Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns from 434 until his death in 453. He was leader of the Hunnic Empire, which stretched from Germany to the Ural River and from the Danube River to the Baltic Sea. During his rule, he was one of the most fearsome enemies of the Western and Eastern Roman Empire. He invaded the Balkans twice and marched through Gaul (modern France) as far as Orléans before being defeated at the Battle of Châlons. He refrained from attacking either Constantinople or Rome.
The Huns were a group of Eurasian nomads, appearing from beyond the Volga, who migrated into Europe c. 370 and built up an enormous empire there. Their main military techniques were mounted archer and javelin throwing. They were possibly the descendants of the Xiongnu who had been northern neighbours of China three hundred years before and may be the first expansion of Turkic people across Eurasia. The origin and language of the Huns has been the subject of debate for centuries. According to some theories, their leaders at least may have spoken a Turkic language, perhaps closest to the modern Chuvash language. One scholar suggests a relationship to Yeniseian.
The death of Rugila (also known as Rua or Ruga) in 434 left the sons of his brother Mundzuk ( , ), Attila and Bleda (Buda), in control of the united Hun tribes. At the time of two brothers' accession, the Hun tribes were bargaining with Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius II's envoys for the return of several renegade (possibly Hunnic nobles who disagreed with the brothers' assumption of leadership) who had taken refuge within the Eastern Roman Empire.
The following year Attila and Bleda met with the imperial legation at Margus (present-day Požarevac) and, all seated on horseback in the Hunnic manner, negotiated a successful treaty. The Romans agreed to not only return the fugitives, but to also double their previous tribute of 350 Roman pounds (ca. 115 kg) of gold, to open their markets to Hunnish traders, and to pay a ransom of eight solidi for each Roman taken prisoner by the Huns. The Huns, satisfied with the treaty, decamped from the Roman Empire and returned to their home in the Hungarian Great Plain, perhaps to consolidate and strengthen their empire. Theodosius used this opportunity to strengthen the walls of Constantinople, building the city's first sea wall, and to build up his border defenses along the Danube.
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