The Scourge of God - Attila and his Huns have been called this from the first time they exploded onto the historical scene. Attila maintained his image as a barbaric outsider long after Germanic warlords had been incorporated into the Empire, instead he became the archetypical Barbarian.
Riding out of the great steppes of Asia, they struck fear into the Germanic peoples and into the heart of Rome herself and appeared to many to be the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the calamity that would precede the Second Coming. No one represents the unbridled fury and savagery of barbarism as much as Attila the Hun.
Why was this so? Why was this man, who never took his people into the Roman Empire to settle into their villas, who never became absorbed into the Latin way of life so able to adversely affect Western psyche that he has remained forever the stuff of nightmares?
Was it because they ripped through the Danube's defenses?
Was it because they forced an emperor to sue for peace and pay tribute?
No.....it was because Attila was something far more frightening than any of that.
The World's First Redneck
Let's examine the evidence.
Priscus tells us that Attila favored the plainest of native dress....among which can be found the chuha, kacagany/kartugan or fur mantle.
You know you're a redneck when you own a homemade fur coat!
Ammianus Marcellinus described their savage customs:
........they are so little advanced in their civilization that they make no use of fire, nor any kind of relish, in the preparation of their food, but feed upon roots which they find in the fields, and the half-raw flesh of any sort of animal.
Now, that definitely describes a redneck who's modern equivalent still is not much farther advanced in their civilization, the evidence of which speaks volumes. These are people who:
Saved lots of money on their honeymoon by going deer hunting.
Think pork and beans are a gourmet food.
Have a stuffed possum somewhere in their house.
Who's only condiment on the dining table is the economy size bottle of ketchup.
Actually know which leaves make the best substitute for toilet paper.
Have actually raked leaves in their kitchen.
Ammianus goes on to say that the Huns eat their meet half raw because "they give it a kind of cooking by placing it between their own thighs and the backs of their horses......
Bingo....today's modern equivalent thinks the best way to keep things cold is to leave 'em in the shade.
In 447 AD, Attila advanced through Illyria and devastated the whole region between the Black and the Mediterranean seas.
Rednecks would always prefer to burn their yard than mow it. The Huns were reknowned horsemen, spurring their small mounts on with whips and wore goatskin chaps to protect their legs from the sharp blades of long steppe grass. That leaves us with one question.....what are raids anyway but really....really...really BIG rodeos!
One of history's most peculiar scandals gave Attila a justification for war with the Western Emperor. Honoria, the sister of Valentinian, had been apparently discovered having an affair with her steward in 449. The unfortunate lover was executed and Honoria was kept in seclusion. It is said that in a rage, she smuggled a ring and a message to Attila asking him to become her champion. He took this as a marriage proposal and asked for half the Western Empire as her dowry. Valentinian said no.
Apparently her brother realized one unescapable truth about rednecks as inlaws......you can't hide 'em from your friends.
When Attila crossed the Rhine, he claimed that he merely sought by force what was his by right of betrothal. The two forces, Hun and Roman clashed in a massive battle somewhere in Champagne called the Catalaunian Plains or locus Mauriacus in June, 451 AD. The ensuing battle lasted all day with the Romans and Visigoths only gaining the upper hand toward the end of the day throwing the Huns back down the hill. Theodoric, the Visigoth king, was killed and angered by his death, the Visigoths hit the Huns with renewed energy. Many of the Huns and their allies fled with Attila and the body of his army retreated behind the wagons of their encampment.
The next day, each side awoke, made a lot of noise about making a last stand but in the end, everyone found an excuse to be somewhere else.
Before Attila could pursue his planned campaign against Constantinople that would forever insure the tribute of the Romans, he stopped to celebrate the addition of another woman to his harem. The actual cause of his demise may be disputed....was it poison? Was it a stroke? Was it a nosebleed? We may never know but what we do know is that he'd overindulged in food and drink and was passed out drunk at the time of his death.
And if that's not a redneck way to die, I don't know what is!