Attila the Hun
Although he reigned no more than 20 years as king of the Huns, the image of Attila in history and in the popular imagination is based upon two aggressive military campaigns in the last two years of his life which threatened to dramatically redirect the development of Western Europe.
Attila and his brother succeeded their uncle as leaders of the Huns in 434, with Attila in the junior position until his brother’s death 12 years later. History has it that Attila killed him or hired someone to do the job. Attila embarked immediately upon a series of wars extending the Hun rule from the Rhine, across the north of the Black Sea as far as the Caspian Sea. From that base he soon began a long series of negotiations with the capital of the Roman Empire at Constantinople in the East and Ravenna in the West.
Finally, Attila forged an alliance with the Franks and Vandals and in the spring of 451 he unleashed a long-threatened attack into the heart of Western Europe. After pillaging a broad swath of cities in his path, he was close to obtaining the surrender of Orleans when the combined Roman and Visigoth armies arrived and forced Attila’s retreat to the northeast.
Near Troyes the opposing forces joined battle at Chalons in one of the decisive battles of European history. Though the margin of victory was slim, the Western army prevailed, precipitating Attila’s withdrawal back across the Rhine and avoiding a decisive shift in the course of political and economic development in Western Europe. Attila’s adventures in the West had not ended, however. In the following year he launched a devastating campaign into Italy.
Little is known of Attila’s early life. Only that most people associate him as being a cruel leader. In fact Attila’s nickname was “The Scourge God.” He struck fear into the hearts of the opposing tribes. There were rumors that Attila had cannibalistic practices and that he had eaten two of his sons.
In the book, “The Prince,” Niccolio Machiavelli presents many ways that leaders should rule over the masses. Attila the Hun attempts to follow some of the recommended steps to gain favor with his people. For example, in the second chapter of the book, Machiavelli states that hereditary rulers have an easier time keeping power and regaining it because they have less cause and less need to offend than a new one. Unless a hereditary ruler does something truly despicable the people will fight to keep him in power. If a stronger force strips him of his title, he will have an easier time regaining it, because of the necessary cruelties of his overthrowers force on the people.
As I mentioned before, Attila the Hun inherited his position along side of his brother, Bleda. After his brothers untimely death Attila ruled the Hunnic people. Machiavelli also says that hereditary states are easier to maintain than newly established ones; the people, once used to rule, will not want to change it. Even if deposed, the Prince...