Attila's Invasion of Italy

The defeat of Attila the Hun's forces by the allied Roman and Visigoth armies at Chalons in 451 thwarted his first campaign into the heart of Western Europe. However, Attila's ambitions and audacity were not diluted by the experience, only redirected.

In the Spring of the following year, he moved his armies directly south, straight toward Ravenna itself, western capital of the Roman Empire. Aquileia, at the head of the Adriatic, fell first and was totally destroyed.

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He moved next to the southwest, burning Concordia, Altinum and Padua [Patavium]. Pillaging forays were sent westward toward Milan and other cities of Lombardy. The population of the countryside fled before his armies, some seeking refuge on the islands of the coastal lagoons.

Attila's advance stopped at last, short of Ravenna. Perhaps the halt came, as Attila said, in response to the entreaty of Pope Leo I, although a desire to return across the Alps to his capital near present-day Budapest before the onset of winter may have been a more persuasive reason.


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Attila: King of the Huns: The Man and the Myth
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1998, 2004 C. I. Gable