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Useful Notes: Attila the Hun
Attila was the ruler of the Huns from 434 until his death in 453. He was leader of the Hunnic Empire, which stretched from the Ural River to the Rhine River and from the Danube River to the Baltic Sea. During his reign he was one of the most feared enemies of the Western and Eastern Roman Empires, earning him the title, "The Scourge of God". He also attempted to conquer Roman Gaul (modern France), crossing the Rhine in 451 and marching as far as Aurelianum (Orléans) before being defeated at the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains (aka the Battle of Chalons). Subsequently he invaded Italy, devastating the northern provinces, but was unable to take Rome. He planned for further campaigns against the Romans but died in 453.

There is no universally accepted image of Attila the Hun, though he is normally depicted as a large hairy barbarian or similar in appearance to Genghis Khan, another horseback archer barbarian conqueror.


Attila provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Affably Evil: If you see him as evil, that is. He listened to the appeals of Pope Leo and refused to sack the already weak city of Rome. He was also known for his hospitality.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Depending on where you live, or what sources you listen to, Attila was either an evil bloodthirsty warlord or a great and noble king. In Real Life he was probably somewhere in-between.
  • Cain and Abel: He is believed to have killed his older brother Bleda, who, according to some sources, tried to kill him as well.
  • Death by Irony / Karmic Death: The bloody king Attila drowned in his own blood on his wedding night, possibly from drinking too much alcohol.
  • The Dreaded
  • Iconic Item / Cool Sword: The Sword of Mars. Rumored to be made out of meteorite iron and was a grave marker of the previous owner. While it stood in the ground it was struck by lightning.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: One of his methods of execution, later infamously adopted by Vlad the Impaler.
  • Modest Royalty
  • The Napoleon: He was apparently rather short.
  • Out with a Bang: Reportedly died on his wedding night - or, more likely, one of his wedding nights as he likely had a harem.
  • Sacred Hospitality: One of his more redeeming qualities.
  • The Spymaster: Many of his successes against the Roman Empire came from knowing their movements in advance.
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: The greatest battle he partook in, also the one that he was stopped in, was this. He headed an alliance of the Huns and all the barbarian tribes north of the Danube and east of modern-day Germany. The Romans marched to stop him at the head of an alliance of Visigoths and Franks, followed by Saxons and Burgundians. Why was this significant? Other than the sheer Rule of Cool of nearly 200,000 warriors brawling it out, the victors of this battle made the Middle Ages (representing Visigoths = European Spain, Franks = France & Holy Roman Empire and Saxons = Vikings/Anglo-Saxons/Normans).


Works featuring Attila:

  • Attila appears in rather mythologized form in the Nibelungenlied and the Völsunga saga under the name of Etzel or Atli.
  • Attila appears in Dante's Divine Comedy in the seventh circle of Hell.
  • The White Stag: A highly fictionalized Origin Story for the Huns.
  • An occasional rival to Hägar the Horrible.
  • Several Historical Fiction novels:
    • The Attila Trilogy by William Napier
    • The Scourge of God by William Dietrich
    • The Sword of Attila by Michael Curtis Ford
  • Attila: A miniseries starring Gerard Butler.
  • Defeated Alexander the Great in Deadliest Warrior.
  • Attila's is one of the historical campaigns you can play in Age of Empires II: The Conquerors, showcasing the Hun faction that was included in that expansion.
  • Appears as the faction leader of the Huns in Civilization V. The AI assigned for him is easily the most aggressive out of all the leaders in the game (even memetic asshole Montezuma). His unique units and powers make him the the best choice for an early game conquest victory.
  • In Time Squad Attila is a sniveling, neurotic and strangely Ambiguously Jewish wannabe leader. Time Squad comes in to turn him into a leader that his men can respect and follow orders.
  • He apears as one of the many wax figures brought to life in Night at the Museum.
  • In the episode "Kif Gets Knocked Up a Notch" of Futurama, Attila was one of several simulations of evil characters accidentally brought to life (others included Jack the Ripper and Professor Moriarty)
  • Serves as the namesake of Total War Attila, and is essentially the Final Boss in the campaign.


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alternative title(s): Attila The Hun
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