Saturday, November 12, 2011

Eastern winds

From the movie The Rise of Genghis Khan (2008)

World still remembers in terror the two Eastern winds, the Whip of God Attila the Hun (d. 453) probably from Mongolia and some five hundred years later Genghis Khan (1167-1227) with his unstoppable Mongol horsemen. Both invasions have left lasting impact on the history of the world.


Empire of the Huns at the time of Attila I 

Also the Kingdom of God became in close contact with the Huns in the West Roman Empire and beyond its borders. Church historian Jordanes tells about these people in unflattering terms

"They made their foes flee in horror because their swarthy aspect was fearful, and they had, if I may call it so, a sort of shapeless lump, not a head, with pin-holes rather than eyes. Their hardihood is evident in their wild appearance, and they are beings who are cruel to their children on the very day they are born. For they cut the cheeks of the males with a sword, so that before they receive the nourishment of milk they must learn to endure wounds. Hence they grow old beardless and their young men are without comeliness, because a face furrowed by the sword spoils by its scars the natural beauty of a beard. They are short in stature, quick in bodily movement, alert horsemen, broad shouldered, ready in the use of bow and arrow, and have firm-set necks which are ever erect in pride. Though they live in the form of men, they have the cruelty of wild beasts."
(Jordanes. The origins and deeds of the Goths. Translated by Charles C. Mierow. XXIV: 121-2)

The Huns presence in Europe from fourth to seventh century A.D. may have been the root cause of the nervous movements of people during the Migration Period. Under Attila the Huns established a huge empire in Middle Asia reaching from there for the riches of Mediterranean countries and trying to extend their power to the shores of Atlantic Ocean. These expeditions totally mixed the habitation of Europe sending refugees to all directions with devastating consequences to the prevailing order.

Rouran Khaganate 330-355 A.D.

The Huns may themselves have left their homes in the East because of the expansion of the Chinese Rouran Khaganate on the northern borders of inner China in 4th - 6th centuries A.D.

The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns, considerable scholarly effort has been devoted to investigating such a connection. However, there is no scholarly consensus on a direct connection between the dominant element of the Xiongnu and that of the Huns. Priscus mentions that the Huns had a language of their own; little of it has survived and its relationships have been the subject of debate for centuries. According to predominant theories, theirs was a Turkic language. Numerous other languages were spoken within the Hun pax including East Germanic. Their main military technique was mounted archery.

We will later return to the details of the encounter between Jesus Christ and Attila.

Genghis Khan

It helps to keep things in perspective to compare the arrival of Huns to that of the Mongol invasion some five hundred years later. The pattern of swift attacks on horseback is very similar and the consequences to the people of Western Asia, Near East and Europe equally important.

Expansion of Genghis Khan empire during the 13th century

1 comment:

  1. Rouran Khanate was not Chinese, It is Mongolic Empire. Xiongnu or Huns were also proto-mongols. After defeated by emerging Turks in Mongolia during VI century, Rourans migrated to the west too. In the historical chronicles it is marked as a 2nd great migration of steppe people of "Avars". Then we had 5 migration waves of steppe people into europe 1.Huns 2. Avars 3. Turks 4. Mongols 5. Oyrat (western mongols)