Attila the Hun is known for his four massive assaults, when he attacked east and west of the Roman Empire. He was considered as a valiant and often despotic ruler. Attila has lived on as one of the worst enemies of Rome. He ruled the Hunnic empire from 440-453 AD, first as a co-ruler with his brother Bleda and then as a single ruler when he had his brother murdered. Firsthand account about Attila is available in the works of Roman historian Priscus. Priscus tells us Attila was intelligent and modest in the way he dressed. But he was also capable of violent outbursts of anger. He ruled and took the Hunnic Empire to the epitome of success. He bonded well with the Roman Empire’s Germanic neighbours such as Goths, Rugi, Gepids, and others. Attila had two major campaigns on the Great Hungarian Plain against the Roman Empire in 442 and 447 AD. He captured many cities of the Balkans and defeated the Roman imperial armies in open battle.
He got a huge booty from these wins which were also supplemented by the annual subsidy coming from Constantinople (about 2000 lbs of Gold). Such wealth was the reason for rich burial traditions of the Hunnic era, traces of which are found in Central Europe. In 451 and 452 AD Attila turned westwards and attacked Italy and Gaul. These campaigns were not wars of conquest, rather they were meant to derive wealth. He did not get much success with these campaigns. Attila had to retreat from Gaul after his armies faced defeat at the Catalaunian Plains and from Italy when his army were severely affected from a disease.
But Attila wanted to take advantage of crumbling Roman Empire, he set of to conquer Roman lands. But Pope Leo I intervened successfully. Attila was convinced to return home. Attila returned to his palace where preparations had been made for his imminent marriage with his sixth wife. The name of his sixth wife was Ildico. There was a lot of merriment at the wedding feast. There was a lot of food and drnks for one and all. After partying Attila who was forty-seven years old at the time retired to his bed chamber with his wife Ildico. In the morning when Attila’s close associates entered the chamber they found Ildico crying over the body of her husband. It seemed that Attila had a nosebleed at night, but due to his drunken state he had choked on the blood. This was a rather facile death and helped the Roman Empire prosper for some more time. There were definite indications of foul play. Thus there was a lingering mystery over the nature of Attila’s death.
Recent medical researchers indeed claim that Attila could have well died of nosebleed on his wedding night. He might have succumbed to something like haemorrhoid in his oesophagus which is caused by heavy drinking. Others feel that heavy drinking might have lead to the acid reflux disease that ruptures the oesophageal varices. Indeed, from the accounts of Priscus we learn that Attila was a heavy drinker, he used to drink a lot regularly.
Another theory suggests that Byzantine Emperor Marcian hired assassins to kill Attila. They might have as well sneaked into the chamber unnoticed in the deluge of people coming for the wedding festivities. A simple poison in the drink would also cause the death of Attila the Great Hun.
But the nosebleed theory is more acceptable than the murder. After Attila’s death Hunnic Empire disintegrated.