Looking back into history, in the period where Hun’s were dominating across Eastern Europe. There was a lot of terror caused, the raiding, pillaging and killing during their dominance was constant. Even though the Hun’s were nomadic people they still conquered land as they went by and held a good portion of land in their Golden period. The Hun’s are very similar to Mongols and Seljuks in their tradition, style and beliefs.
The origin of the Hun’s it’s still being disputed over and the facts are very slim for their origin to be yet confirmed. But currently there are two believes. The first one places the Hun’s to be at the Western Border of China. This theory stands still today because there are some sources placing the Hun’s in that territory fighting against the Chinese. While the other theory places the Hun’s much Western over at the territories of Today’s Kazakhstan/Uzbekistan, just east from Mongolia.
1.They Did Everything on Horses and it gave them the advantage
This is a pretty interesting thing to consider, because if you think back the Hun’s were always on horses. They were nomadic people coming from a rough territory, where it’s required to have a mounted animal for your use. People adapted to this and horses became so much common in their lives that they did everything on them.
Reading some of the sources, it says that people even sleep on their horses, they had gatherings, ate and never climbed down from their horses. Looking at this thing it gave them an advantage and disadvantage. Because in this period most of the tribes the Hun’s encountered were foot soldiers. If put in a fight against a mounted unit they would have lost and here the Hun’s had their advantage. While the con of constant being on a horse was having weak legs. Their legs were very weak because they didn’t use them and this complicated things. But regarding this con, the Hun’s caused terror across the tribes in Europe and shock the Roman empire as well.
2. The Use of Bow Was One of the Main Weapons
The Hun’s were one of the more significant archers that changed a lot with their simple weapons, the bow and arrow in most cases. Using the horse as a great utility they managed to master the bow while riding a horse. They were one of the first more successful mounted archers that made a difference.
The materials used for the bow were changed quite a bit making it easier for the bow to be used as a weapon and easing the whole process while riding from horseback. This was a serious skill to have and practice was key into become a horseback archer. As the bow was mastered both in skill and development it showed so much potential, later the Mongol success would depend a lot as well from the horseback archer.
3. The Hunnic Standards of Beauty Were Terrifying
When you think of beauty an instant image flashes into your head of something nice, sweet and desireful, but this wouldn’t be the case if you were Hunnic. The hunnic standards of beauty were somewhat morbid and scary from our point of view. The first thing which they did was scar their cheeks either melting them or removing them with a knife. This whole process was made because they disliked facial hair and wanted it to be removed permanently. This was made from a younger age where facial hair was starting to grow.
While the other Taboo thing the Hun’s did was wrap the heads of their babies in order to change the form while the head develops. This was a beauty standard everyone took part in and their skulls were shaped vertically, as shown by the archeology findings.
4. Their Administrative System
Even though they were nomadic people with no administrative system, it’s good to say that even though hierarchy wasn’t much shown in their system it was still present. They used dominance as a chain to grab a hold of the fallen tribes they defeated and used them for war against other tribes and kingdoms. Many Slavic tribes as well as the Ostrogoths were under their command and were in the Hunnic rule system. Also it could be considered that the claim to the throne was through blood. This could be seen when the ruler died and left his throne to the two brothers. One of the brothers was Attila and later killed his brother taking the rule for himself.
5. Attila – “The Hun’s Golden Age”
Looking back at the Hun’s they had a gold age and it came with the ruler Attila. He achieved a lot of dominance in his ruling period and caused a lot of terror as well. A major battle was fought against the Roman Empire. It’s called the Battle of Adrianople, it was in the year of 378. Even though the victors were the Romans along with their allies, Attila’s campaign caused a lot trouble for the territories as they passed by, much loot was taken and Hunnic pockets were full for the time being.
He successfully raided around his territories because the Hunnic base was in Pannonia, they launched so much successful attacks and raids on their neighbours. The Hun’s were people you wouldn’t want to meet on the battlefield while Attila was present, it created their own Golden Age.
6. Fear Was the Most Successful Weapon
Even though they had a lot of military achievements and knew how to dominate on the battlefield the major weapon that gave them success was fear. The Great Migration is a period where a lot of tribes migrate west in order to find better land and shelter. One of the reasons were the Hun’s, because they were well known of being destructive and caused massive terror. The populace started spreading stories of them and it started causing major panic everywhere as they go.
This is related to the Mongols fear tactic. Cities would surrender instead of defend because they knew exactly how the Mongols treated those who fought them.
Fear was a ruler and a huge military advantage for the Hun’s. It served them a good purpose in their campaign of territory expansion.
Ammianus Marcellinus: The Later Roman Empire (AD 354–378) – 2004