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.
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.
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.