Page:A history of Hungarian literature.djvu/11

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A thousand years ago, about the end of the ninth century, events, the results of which proved of great importance, took place in that part of Europe which is encircled by the Carpathians, and watered by the Danube and the Tisza. In that fertile district, known then as the Avar plain, in the very heart of Christian Europe, there suddenly appeared a tribe of wild, pagan horsemen, some one or two hundred thousand strong, who took possession of the country, settled upon it, and made it the centre for their predatory raids. It is astonishing how far those dreaded horsemen wandered in the course of their many campaigns. They poured unchecked over the whole of Europe. Marching northwards they reached Bremen, and reduced it to ashes. Southwards they penetrated as far as Athens, and in the west they camped before the walls of the Eternal City, which Attila himself never reached. They encamped beneath the gigantic arches of the aqueducts, and pitched their tents in Subiaco, in the gardens of Nero. They streamed eastwards, and knocked with their iron maces