Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/164

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158 BATTLE OF CHALONS.


lieve that swarms of these nations made their way into distant parts of the earth, at periods long before the date of the Scythian invasion of Asia, which is the earliest inroad of the nomadic race that history records. The first, as far as we can conjecture, in respect to the time of their descent, were the Finnish and Ugrian tribes, who appear to have come down from the Altaic border of High Asia toward the northwest, in which direction they advanced to the Uralian Mountains. There they established themselves; and that mountain chain, with its valleys and pasture lands, became to them a new country, whence they sent out colonies on every side; but the Ugrian colony, which, under Arpad, occupied Hungary, and became the ancestors of the bulk of the present Hungarian nation, did not quit their settlements on the Uralian Mountains till a very late period, and not until four centuries after the time when Attila led from the primary seats of the nomadic races in High Asia the host with which he advanced into the heart of France.* That host was Turkish, but closely allied in origin, language, and habits with the Finno-Ugrian settlers on the Ural.

Attila's fame has not come down to us through the partial and suspicious medium of chroniclers and poets of his own race. It is not from Hunnish authorities that we learn the extent of his might: it is from his enemies, from the literature and the legends of the nations whom he afflicted with his arms, that we draw the unquestionable evidence of his greatness. Besides the express narratives of Byzantine, Latin, and Gothic writers, we have the strongest proof of the stem reality of Attila's conquests in the extent to which he and his Huns have been the themes of the earliest German and Scandinavian lays. Wild as many of those legends are, they bear concurrent and certain testimony to the awe with which the memory of Attila was regarded by the bold warriors who composed and delighted in them. Attila's exploits, and the wonders of his unearthly steed and magic sword, repeatedly occur in the Sagas of Norway and Iceland; and the celebrated Niebelungen Lied, the most ancient of Germanic poetry, is full of them. There Etsel, or Attila, is described as the wearer of twelve mighty crowns, and as promising to his bride the lands of thirty kings, whom his irresistible sword had sub-

  • See Prichard's "Researches into the Physical History of Mankind."