Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/167

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

BATTLE OF CHALONS. 161


when the rest were destroyed by fire and brimstone from the Lord in heaven, and might, therefore, be especially called a place prepared of God in the wilderness."

It is obvious enough why he styled himself "By the Grace of God, King of the Huns and Goths;" and it seems far from difficult to see why he added the names of the Medes and the Danes. His armies had been engaged in warfare against the Persian kingdom of the Sassanidae, and it is certain* that he meditated the invasion and overthrow of the Medo-Persian power. Probably some of the northern provinces of that kingdom had been compelled to pay him tribute; and this would account for his styling himself King of the Medes, they being his remotest subjects to the south. From a similar cause, he may have called himself King of the Danes, as his power may well have extended northward as far as the nearest of the Scandinavian nations; and this mention of Medes and Danes as his subjects would serve at once to indicate the vast extent of his dominion.†

The immense territory north of the Danube and Black Sea, and eastward of Caucasus, over which Attila ruled, first in conjunction with his brother Bleda, and afterward alone, can not be very accurately defined, but it must have comprised within it, besides the Huns, many nations of Slavic, Gothic, Teutonic, and Finnish origin. South also of the Danube, the country, from the River Sau as far as Novi in Thrace, was a Hunnish province. Such was the empire of the Huns in A.D. 445; a memorable year, in which Attila founded Buda on the Danube as his capital city, and ridded himself of his brother by a crime which seems to have been prompted not only by selfish ambition, but also by a desire of turning to his purpose the legends and forebodings which then were universally spread throughout the Roman empire, and must have been well known to the watchful and ruthless Hun.

The year 445 of our era completed the twelfth century from the foundation of Rome, according to the best chronologers. It had always been believed among the Romans that the twelve

  • See the narrative of Priscus.

† In the Niebelungen Lied," the old poet who describes the reception of the heroine Chrimbild by Attila [Etsel], says that Attila's dominions were so vast, that among his subject-warriors there were Russian, Greek, Wallachian, Polish, and even Danish knights.