The Scourge of God meets the Vicar of God

Attila the Hun was known as the Scourge of God.  His armies ravaged the world Kazakhstan to Germany, sacking cities, crushing townsfolks and ruining the Eastern Roman Empire.  His march on the Western Roman Empire stopped just short of Rome however; when a small envoy of men met with the great warleader.  Among the group suing for peace, Pope Leo I, known as Leo the Great, was present and is actually given the credit for single-handedly turning back the Hunnic armies.

As Attila destroyed his way to Rome, he demanded the Western Roman Emperor’s daughter as dowry placing the emperor in the troubling position of either giving his empire to the Huns through marriage, or giving it to them through conquest.  Then in 452, three men met with Attila; and he retreated.  No historian actually knows what went on between the Pope and Attila, but we know that it was the last official meeting before he dipped out of the Western Empire.  Historians speculate that the Pope offered large sums of money to the Hun, that Attila feared the curse of Alaric (Alaric the Visigoth destroyed Rome some decades before Attila and died prematurely soon thereafter.  It was the Gothic version of the Curse of King Tut’s tomb, where the men who destroyed Rome would be doomed), some historians even speculate that the Pope appealed to Attila’s religious side.

File:Leoattila-Raphael.jpgRaphael’s painting of the meeting of Leo and Attila, 1514 (

Current speculation is that Attila knew that Rome was on its last legs economically, and invading a city that was poor and decrepit would not provide enough food and plunder to make it worth destroying.  The thought is that Attila realized that the continuing of his invasion would not have been profitable or useful, so he turned his eyes towards internal disputes and consolidation of his new empire.  Sadly, he died from either choking on a nosebleed or an internal hemorrhage in his throat from drinking too much.  The Roman Jordanes wrote,  “The greatest of all warriors should be mourned with no feminine lamentations and with no tears, but with the blood of men.”; as the warrior king of a warrior society died a death that could not be avenged.




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