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Attila the Hungry

18 December 2022

A story that swept across various media this week – drought lay behind Attila the Hun’s war on Rome – see for example https://phys.org/news/2022-12-drought-attila-huns-roman-empire.html … Hunnic people migrated westwards across Eurasia. The White Huns also moved south towards India. Most people would have thought Hun-gary, a country with a strong association with the Hun kingdom carved out in the 5th century AD, had preserved the name of these people – but apparently not, we are told. Hungary became the heart of a temporary Hunnic kingdom in central and eastern Europe, the Hungarian Plain situated in direct access to the steppe zone. The Huns themselves were a herding people although they caught up farming communities in their expansion. Animal herders are  more able to move location, in bad times. Farmers have restricted movement. The question being posed is did the Huns seek to occupy lands  within the Roman Empire, hence the vicious attacks that sought to shift those already in occupation on the other side of the Danube. This question arose after the discovery in tree rings from Hungary of drought that came and went on several occasions in the 430s to 450s – when the Huns were most active. In fact, scientists have discovered that dry spells were also a feature of the 4th century AD as well as the 5th. In the 6th century AD we had the plague. We may also ask if Hunnic pressure on the tribes of Germany led them to exert pressure on more westerly tribes such as the Franks, Angles and Saxons. This is not of course a new idea as historians have thought such pressure was a feature of the Migration Period for a long time, a theory now supported by tree ring data from central Europe.

At https://www.heritagedaily.com/2022/12/the-vikings-in-africa/145505 … somewhat later, in the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries, the Vikings were testing the waters of NW Europe and the river routes  through Russia to the Islamic world. One of the commodities they had for sale was slaves. They also travelled down the coast of western Europe to Iberia, raiding various Islamic kingdoms in what is now Spain and Portugal, and even making forays in North Africa. They are described by Ab Abduklah al-Babi as ‘Majus’ = heathens and fire worshippers. In AD859 a large Viking fleet raided Islamic kingdoms in southern Iberia and also across the other side of the Mediterranean [including the Balearic Islands]. They sacked the city of Naker situated in what is now Morocco. Inhabitants were killed or seized as slaves – but where did they go. They could not sell them on to the Islamic world as they were Islamic. It is suggested they ended up in the slave markets of Ireland. Presumably the Viking enclave in what became Dublin. By the 9th century the Irish had been Christianised for several centuries so we have  somewhat of a mystery.

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