Famous Men of the Middle Ages
Attila the Hun
King from 434-453 A.D.
The fierce and warlike tribe, called the Huns, who had driven the Goths to seek new
homes, came from Asia into Southeastern Europe and took possession of a large territory
lying north of the River Danube.
During the first half of the fifth century the Huns had a famous king named Attila. He
was only twenty-one years old when he became their king. But although he was young,
he was very brave and ambitious, and he wanted to be a great and powerful king.
Not far from Attila's palace there was a great rocky cave in the mountains. In this cave
lived a strange man called the "Hermit of the Rocks." No one knew his real name, or
from what country he had come. He was very old, with wrinkled face and long gray hair
Many persons believed that he was a fortune-teller, so people often went to him to inquire
what was to happen to them. One day, shortly after he became king, Attila went to the
cave to get his fortune told.
"Wise man," said he, "look into the future and tell me what is before me in the path of
The hermit thought for a few moments, and then said, "O King, I see you a famous
conqueror, the master of many nations. I see you going from country to country,
defeating armies and destroying cities until men call you the 'Fear of the World.' You
heap up vast riches, but just after you have married the woman you love grim death
strikes you down."
With a cry of horror Attila fled from the cave. For a time he thought of giving up his idea
of becoming a great man. But he was young and full of spirit, and very soon he
remembered only what had been said to him about his becoming a great and famous
conqueror and began to prepare for war. He gathered together the best men from the
various tribes of his people and trained them into a great army of good soldiers.
About this time one of the king's shepherds, while taking care of cattle in the fields,
noticed blood dripping from the foot of one of the oxen. The shepherd followed the streak
of blood through the grass and at last found the sharp point of a sword sticking out of the
earth. He dug out the weapon, carried it to the palace, and gave it to King Attila. The king
declared it was the sword of Tiew, the god of war. He then strapped it to his side and said
he would always wear it.