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15 Fearsome Attila the Hun Facts

These fearsome facts all about Attila the Hun are fascinating! We've put together 15 pieces of trivia all about this ancient warrior and his life!

Beano Facts Team
Last Updated:  February 23rd 2024

Attila the Hun was one of the most powerful and fearsome warriors in history! But how much do you know about the almost legendary man and his conquests? It's time to find out with these 15 fun facts all about Attila the Hun! Find out who the Huns were, what made Attila famous, his mysterious death and if there really was a tribe called the Alans (Yes.) And if you liked these, check out more history facts right here! For more ancient fighting, how about these Roman Gladiator facts? Or what about these jaw-dropping Julius Caesar facts? You may even be in the mood for these epic Albert Einstein facts!

1. The Huns Were a Eurasian Tribe

Attila the Hun wasn't Attila's rapper name, it referred to the tribe he led. The Huns were a nomadic tribe (meaning they moved around and never settled in one place) from modern day Eastern Europe and Asia, and Attila's Empire spread all the way from modern day Germany and Denmark to Russia and beyond. The Huns invaded many parts of the Roman Empire, such as modern day France, and were considered one of the Romans most powerful enemies.

2. He Lived in the 5th Century

Attila the Hun lived from 406 to 453 AD, or the 5th century, a period of time when Roman rule in Europe was becoming unstable. Attila's empire consisted not just of the Huns, but also tribes like the Ostrogoths, the Bulgars and the Alans (a tribe from near modern day Iran, not a group of men called Alan. Although that would also be fun). We don't know lots about them because they didn't write things down, so we have to rely on other sources, sometimes their enemies, for details.

3. No One is Quite Sure Where the Huns Came From

The Huns (and again, sadly, not a group of fun women, but an early modern tribe) were powerful and widespread, but no one is actually sure of where they originated from. In fact, its been such a debate for hundreds of years it even has its own Wikipedia page! Some scholars believe they came from a people in modern day China, whilst others think they could be Iranian, South Asian or Central Asian. In the end, we just don't know, but its very likely they came West from Eastern regions.

4. He Came From a Powerful Family

You're probably picturing Attila the Hun as a bit of a savage barbarian (Which is exactly what the Romans want you to think!), but in actual fact, he came from a sophisticated and privileged family. His family were one of the most powerful families in Europe. He was taught fighting skills, military tactics and different languages, and watched his uncles, Octar and Rugila, perform their own duties as leaders.

5. He Went to War With Rome to Get a Wife

Attila the Hun actually thought the best thing to do was to make peace with Rome, rather than fighting them, but one exception was when Honoria, a Roman emperor's sister, asked Attila to help get her out of an engagement to a Roman diplomat. Attila took this as a sign she wanted to marry HIM, and promptly invaded Gaul on her behalf. Romantic!

6. But He Also Had Lots of Other Wives

Attila didn't just have one wife, but several, including Ildico, who witnessed his death, and Honoria, the Roman woman. Two other wives were apparently called Kreka, Gudrun, although we just don't know enough about them to say for sure how many wives Attila really had, and if he was married to many at the same time. He may even have married his brother's widow.

7. He Killed His Own Brother

Attila the Hun didn't have a fearsome reputation for no reason...he wasn't a gentle bloke! In 444, according to sources from the time, Attila decided to kill his brother Bleda to get him out of the way and have more of the Hun empire to himself. It worked, because this isn't a fact page about 'Bleda the Hun'!

8. He Had a Vast Empire

At the height of his power, Attila the Hun had an empire which stretched over much of modern day Europe and beyond into Asia. He did this the way most people get Empires; war. In fact, so powerful was Attila and his empire that it was one of the factors which helped cause the fall of the Roman empire and its rulers, some of the most powerful Europe had ever seen.

9. He Was Only Defeated Once

There's a reason we still remember Attila the Hun today - he was almost unbeatable in battle. Almost. Because he did have one famous defeat, at the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains in 451. This battle was against the Romans and the Visigoths, who decided to team up to try and beat Attila. They succeeded, and Attila was forced to withdraw from Gaul.

10. He Was Leader of Several Tribes

Although the Huns, his own tribe, are what we most associate with Attila, he was in fact in charge of many different groups of people, including ones he defeated in battle. These also included the ones we mentioned above like the Bulgars, Ostrogoths and Alans. The Huns also shouldn't be confused with the nickname British soldiers gave Germans in WW1 - Germans aren't descended from Attila, it was just a nickname because the British considered them brutish like him!

11. He Has A Fearsome Nickname

Attila was known as 'Flagellum Dei' in ancient Latin, which means 'Scourge of God' and shows just how scary Romans thought he was! What nickname would your enemies give you?

12. He is a National Hero in Hungary

To this day, Attila is a national hero in Hungary, named after the Huns, although he doesn't actually have much connection with the modern population. Modern day Hungarians are mostly descended from the Magyars, a completely different group of people who didn't arrive Hungary until several hundred years after the Huns.

13. He's Been Portrayed in Lots of Different Ways

Gerard | Alphaville Films Attila Productions Michael R. Joyce Productions | USA Network

Attila the Hun has been written about, painted and depicted in films, tv and songs. In fact, in the book Dracula, the main character claims to be descended from him! He was most recently played by Gerard Butler in the 2000's mini series of the same name, and the Night at the Museum movies, and his name is still shorthand for someone fearsome!

14. He Died Mysteriously

Attila's death remains a bit of a mystery to this day. According to stories, he died on his wedding night to Ildico (yet another wife), who alerted the guards when Attila was found dead. Some sources say he died of a nosebleed, poisoning or just from drinking too much.

15. No One Knows Where He is Buried

According to Roman diplomat Priscus, Attila was entombed in three coffins (silver, gold and iron) with his treasures and then buried in a river bed. Today no one knows where this supposed gravesite is, although its thought to be somewhere in Hungary (Somewhere with a river, we assume).