sexta-feira, 22 de março de 2013

Post nº 69


The Huns terrorized Europe as any barbarian people did never before

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For many people who like history and try to understand the so called barbarian invasions of the Roman Empire, especially in the last century of his existence, an intriguing question remains: who were the Huns?

The question is intriguing because everybody knows who were the Germans or the Goths, peoples who invaded the Empire and settled inside his frontiers, giving birth to the modern European nations, but the Huns, the most ferocious and dangerous invaders of all, conquered, killed, tortured, sacked, destroyed and didn’t settle, going back to their kingdom in central Europe and afterwards fading away mysteriously in the midst of History. Nobody knows what happened to them and the most common answer is that they mixed with other barbarian nations and disappeared naturally, but if this is true why it was so suddenly and there’s no trace of their language or of their refined jewellery art among those who took their place in what is now the territory of modern Hungary? On the other hand, nobody knows where they came from or what their ethnic origins were, most of the people thinking they were from Chinese or Mongolian stock.

The true fact is that the Huns are one of the great mysteries of History and all we can do is try to find some answers without being sure if the facts and information they are based on really refers to the Huns or to other people who didn’t make a hit in History and disappeared silently and unnoticed in a very different way.

The first notice we have about what is supposed to be the Hun People comes from Greece. 200 years BC, the Greek sage Eratosthenes wrote about a people who called themselves Outioi, a dangerous tribe of nomadic warriors living between the eastern edge of the Caspian Sea and the mountains of Turkistan. According to him, these savage horsemen were a big problem for the Persian Empire, for they were always causing trouble and severe damage on its north-east border. So, the question is: if 600 years before their arrival in the West they were living so far away from the territory of China or Mongolia, why to confuse them with the Chinese or the Mongolian?

To see the Huns as a Chinese or a Mongolian people is a historical mistake. In fact they didn't differ
physically from the common European man of the time from turkish stuff

Almost 300 years later, at the end of the first century of our Era, Dionysius Areopagita, the sage Bishop of Athens, refers to that tribe of nomadic horsemen as calling themselves Ounnoi and living between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, in the valleys of the Caucasus Mountains, which means that in the last three centuries they had emigrated, surrounding the Caspian north edge and moving from its eastern bank to the western one, together with their distant relatives, the Turks, people who spoke a similar language coming from the linguistic tree called Finn, without any links to the so called Oriental, Indo-European and Semitic trees of languages.  

By this time, they became much acquainted with the Scythians, skilled archers and horsemen who inhabited the region that extends from the south-east to the northwest of the Black Sea. This vast region to the north and east of Constantinople’s Empire and to the north-west of the Persian Empire, is generally called Scythia. The southern branch of this brave people had created a very civilized kingdom called Parthia and defeated the Romans and the Persians several times, using their feared tactics of attacking riding speedily and shooting deadly arrows against the enemy, retiring immediately after arriving forty or fifty yards from their military lines. This operation used to be repeated again and again, decimating the adversary, till they decided to chase the fleeing’ attackers. If the chase was on horseback, the Scythians continued pretending to flee while shooting their well-aimed arrows at the persecutors, killing one after the other, till weakening the enemy and turning back to smash it thoroughly. The consequence of the acquaintance between the Scythians and the Huns was that the later learned the Scythian’ tactics to fight on horseback, and became almost invincible because they added to the tactics their arrows with iron or hard bone tips, able to pierce any kind of armour.

At the end of the third Century AD, after causing havoc in the Persian Empire, the Ounnoi or Hun left their cousin Turcoman, migrating north-westwards, and were noticed in large numbers in the vast region between the northwest Black Sea and the Carpathian Mountains, disputing the land with the Gothic tribes.

Finally, in the second half of the fourth Century AD they advanced westwards, passed the Carpathian Mountains expelling the Gothic tribes, and settled in the magnificent region of north Pannonia, between those mountains and the upper River Danube. Their advance pushed the Goths into the territory of the Eastern Roman Empire and the German to the West. So, the Germans began crossing the River Rhine in panic, looking for a safe haven in Gaul, province of the Roman Western Empire. Therefore, contrary to what even educated people call nowadays Barbarian Invasions, what really happened was a great migratory movement of desperate German and Gothic tribes, fleeing from a merciless conqueror to what they judged to be a safe sanctuary in the western banks of the rivers Rhine and Danube, territories of the Roman Empires.

After learning with the Scythian the Parthenian military tactics the Hun cavalry became invincible

Once established in Pannonia, the Huns decided to milk the Romans on their southern border, for they had perceived that the Empire, in spite of its riches and splendour, had become militarily weak, having no more national armies, but only mercenaries recruited from neighbouring peoples, especially Scythians, Goths and Germans. In the second half of the fourth century only for exception there were soldiers in the Imperial Army from authentic Roman stock.

On the other hand, the physical features of the Huns were not different from the physical features of other barbarian peoples and no historian of the time describes them as having almond eyes like the Chinese and Mongol. In short: the Hun man had no different features from the common European man, civilized or barbarian!

This gives support to the most accepted theory that, despite their large number of approximately one million, they disappeared completely from the European map in less than thirty years after Attila’s death, without any trace of a massive move back eastwards, because it is logical to suppose that, finished as a powerful nation, they naturally mixed with the Eastern German tribes or adopted different names to designate themselves in Hungary or in other parts of Europe, like Finn, Cossack, Turk and Magyar.

One myth about the Huns is that they were the most evil people ever seen in the West. This is absurd because they weren’t more evil than any other people of the time, including the so called “civilized”. For instance: there’s no indication or testimony affirming that the Huns used to enjoy themselves chatting and laughing in a large circus while watching amused defenceless men and women being devoured by lions in the arena!

Some people also say that Attila was ferocious to the point of killing his own brother to rule alone! The answer is that the famous Roman Emperor Caracala, the one who extended Roman citizenship to all free inhabitants of the empire, did the same thing. Well, there was a difference: Attila killed his brother Bleda after challenging him to a duel, fought in the open with equal weapons, while Caracala stabbed his unarmed brother Geta unexpectedly, inside the Imperial Palace and in the presence of their old widowed mother, who was trying to protect her scared fleeing son. Who was the most cowardly, treacherous and ferocious: the educated Roman Emperor or the ‘savage’ Hun king?

The huns were more robbers than destroyers. If they got what they want peacefully they
went away peacefully. Here they sack a rich Roman villa in northern Italy

These same people say that the Huns were merciless destroyers of cities, killing or enslaving their entire populations, as it happens in Aquileia and Ferrara. However, the civilized Alexander the Great, educated by the sage Aristotle, razed to the ground Persepolis, the gorgeous capital of the Persian Empire, and the civilised Romans did this same job countless times, the most notorious cases being Carthage and Palmyra.

Finally, they say that the Huns were the most savage, ignorant and primitive kind of people. We can answer this equally absurd statement with some questions: what savage people can mine and work metals, especially precious ones, so finely? What ignorant people have a sense of beauty able to produce such fine jewellery? What primitive people are able to weave and paint such fine fabrics? People who do such jobs and have such skills can’t be considered savage. Actually, the Huns were much more developed and civilised than the Germans, for these had none of the skills the Huns had.

As to the fact that the Huns abhorred urban life and preferred to live in camps and tents, what is possible to say is that these were much more comfortable, well planned and better built than the coarse German cabins and hamlets.

In support of this opinion, there’s the following fact: in 448, the Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius II sent a rich Embassy to negotiate some important treaties with Attila. The ambassadors were the illustrious Maximinus, Orestes and Edecon, having as secretary the famous philosopher and historian Priscus, who wrote a meticulous report about the mission. The embassy was very well received everywhere while crossing the land of the Huns on its journey to their capital, which, according to the philosopher’s description, was not a camp of tents but a well planned wooden city, somewhere between the River Danube, the River Teiss and the Carpathian Mountains. They paid a visit to the queen Creca, who lived with the king’s concubines, each one having her own private chambers in a large wooden Palace, which is portrayed by the reporter as follows: It was a well constructed building, supported by shaped wooden columns, sculptured and varnished, which weren’t without regularity of proportions or the taste for ornaments. The queen received the ambassadors in her private chambers, which were covered with artistic tapestry, lying on a soft bed surrounded by her servants, who were knitting rich dresses’. As to the noble Hun warriors, Priscus says: They like to display great riches in gold and precious stones, which they use to ornament themselves, their armour, swords and even shoes, covering their tables with fine plates and vases made in gold and silver.
According to the bizantine philosopher and historian Priscus, who visited Attila
as a diplomat, his court was very luxurious and civilized

It is not possible to absolve Attila or the Huns from the terrible things they did, but is correct to say that their cruelty and horrors weren’t different from the cruelty and horrors of other people of the time that we call civilised.

Perhaps the cause of the Huns being so vilified in their time and for the coming centuries is the fact of them not accepting Jesus Christ as their Saviour, as other barbarians did. To make things worse, the Huns not only rejected the Christian religion but also killed and cruelly tortured their ministers, sacking and destroying churches, convents and monasteries, bringing Attila to the insanity of calling himself The Scourge of God. For the Christians, to depict him as Antichrist and his warriors as devils, with all the features that devils have in the popular imagination, was not only a consequence of Attila’s cruelty, but also and above all, a consequence of his insane behaviour about Christianity and his mad portrayal of himself as tormentor of God. In an epoch of great Christian fervour and fanatic faith, like the V Century, all indicates that these things were the true sources of the everlasting bad reputation of the Huns in History.

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