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Attila the Hun

Military Leader / Ruler

Born: c. 406
Died: c. 453
Birthplace: ?
Best known as: 5th century barbarian threat to the Roman Empire
From his base in what is now Hungary, Attila, king of the Huns, waged war against the Roman Empire in the middle of the 5th century with such ferocity his reputation as the "Scourge of God" continues to this day. He shared power with his brother, Bleda, for a dozen years, but after 445 Attila was the sole commander of a force that extended from the Rhine to the Caspian and the western edges of China. He defeated Emperor Theodosius, almost overran Constantinople and invaded Gaul, where he was turned back by Roman commander Flavius Aetius and Visigoth king Theodoric in 451. Attila then invaded Italy in 452 and headed toward Rome. But Pope Leo I and Attila reached some agreement -- a deal based on extortion, divine intervention or simple pragmatism, it's hard to say -- that kept the Huns from sacking Rome. Attila died the next year and the empire he built crumbled within a generation.

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