by M.X. Rienzi

In the middle of the year 451 A.D., a titanic battle was fought, probably on or about June 20, that would have a lasting influence on world history. This battle, the Battle of Chalons, in the Catalaunian Plains in Gaul (France), pitted the forces of the West, of Europe, against those of the OTHER, the barbarian from the East, Attila, his Hun army, and his allies. There are lessons to be learned from this historical event, lessons about Western Unity in the face of crises, lessons about the potential cost of treason to your civilization, many lessons indeed.

The Huns were a people from the steppes of Asia who turned their attention to Europe and the West possibly after being rebuffed in an attempt to conquer the great empire of China. Sweeping westward, the Hunnic horsemen spread terror and destruction among the peoples they encountered. The Roman historian Ammianus described them thusly:

"The nation of Huns...surpasses all other Barbarians in wildness of life...And though (the Huns) do just bear the likeness of men (of a very ugly pattern), they are so little advanced in civilization that they make no use of fire, nor any kind of relish, in the preparation of their food, but feed upon the roots which they find in the fields, and the half-raw flesh of any sort of animal..."

Other accounts described in detail the foreign, alien, Asiatic nature of Hun physiology, their ruthlessness in battle, and thus their complete incompatibility with the peoples of the West, Roman and Germanic alike.

The Huns first made impact on Western history in late 4th century A.D. when they conquered the Ostrogoths and forced the Visigoths into the lands of the Roman Empire, precipitating a chain of events leading to the catastrophic defeat of the Romans, under Emperor Valens, by the Visigoths, at Adrianople in 378.

Eventually, the Huns settled along the Danube, and for about half a century they found themselves more frequently "allied" with the Romans than in conflict with them. Indeed, the Empire of the Roman East found it expedient to pay the Huns an annual "subsidy" starting sometime in the 420s. The Roman peoples would soon regret their coddling of the Huns, and the "convenience" of using these alien savages as "allies."

Things started to change with the Hunnic Kingship of Attila, the "Scourge of God." In The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon quotes a Gothic historian describing Attila thusly: "...a large head, a swarthy complexion, small, deep-seated eyes, a flat nose, a few hairs in the place of a beard, broad shoulders, and a short square body..."; more important, he "delighted in war" and, according to some sources, was a cannibal, who may have eaten two of his own sons (whether this was intentional or not is open to question). Such was the individual who would lead the attack of Asia, of the East, against Europe and the West. Once more, just as the Greeks had to stand fast against the Persian, the men of the West would have to stop the ravages of the Hun.

The Huns turned their attentions first to the Balkans, and spread devastation and terror wherever they went, slaughtering White Europeans with abandon. The Hunnic destruction of the city of Naissus, south of the Danube, was so complete that, years later, the area was still covered with human bones, and the death-stench was such that no one could enter the ruins of the once-proud metropolis. Coming in contact with White, Western civilization obviously inflamed the bloodlust of the Asiatic Attila and his hordes, and they reveled in blood, suffering, and death. The Eastern Emperor Theodosius II "dealt" with this by increasing the annual "subsidy" to the Huns, and ceding territory. However, when Theodosius died, his successor, Marcian, took a harder line against Attila. The enraged Hun decided to take his revenge against the Western Roman Empire, at that time weaker than the Eastern Roman Empire. Indeed, not that long before, in 410 A.D., the Germanic Visigoths, under Alaric, had sacked Rome. Soon, however, Romans and Germans would have to join forces for the survival of the West.

Attila's "justification" for his invasion of the West came as a result of the despicable and racio-culturally treasonous behavior of the Roman Princess Honoria (a most inappropriate name!). This "lady" had been caught having an affair with her steward, who was executed, with the (probably) pregnant Honoria tucked away in seclusion. What then did this spoiled, self-indulgent "lady" do? In an act which smacks of modern-day hyper-individualism, race-treason, and petulant, self-absorbed xenophilia (philia, not phobia!) Honoria had a ring and a message smuggled to Attila -- she asked him to become her "champion!" Ah, yes, that would let her "get even" with those terrible Euros and their Western values. Attila jumped at this, and stated that the West would be his dowry!

Attila crossed the Rhine in 451 A.D. to invade Gaul and topple the Western Empire, already faltering under the strain of repeated Germanic attacks. The Hunnic devastation of Gaul was similar to what had taken place in the Balkans. The Roman Emperor Aetius turned to Rome's long-time enemies, the Western Barbarians, for assistance -- Visigoths, Alans, and Burgundians. Traditional foes came together out of a realization of the need to defend the West, the need to defend the soil of Europe against the "other," to finally attempt to put an end to the savagery of Attila. On the other side, in addition to his Huns, Attila had under his leadership conquered Ostrogoths as well as Vandal allies. The Vandals, under their King Gaiseric, turned traitor to the West out of a long-standing dispute with the Visigoths; in addition, the Vandals were no friends of the Romans.

So, finally, on or about June 20, 451 A.D., these forces met on the Catalaunian Plains to once again, so many years after Thermopylae, Salamis, and Marathon, decide whether the West would live, or die under the heels of the Asia. Attila put his Huns in the middle, his Vandal allies on his right, and the Ostrogoths (who, in theory, should have rebelled at this point, and switched sides, but did not) on his left. Aetius (known as "the last of the Romans") put the relatively "unreliable" Alans in the center, to absorb the initial Hun attack; the Romans were on the left, the Visigoths on the right.

The Romans were able to move efficiently against the Hunnic right in the early stages of the battle, seizing valuable high ground. As the Huns moved ruthlessly against the Alans in the Roman center, the Visigoths and Romans on the flanks moved to attack. The slaughter on all sides was horrendous. One ancient author descried the battle losses as "cadavera vero innumera" ("truly countless bodies"); another sources indicates a death toll of 200-300,000! Whatever the exact number, the loss of life was great, the battle incredibly fierce, and even the King of the Visigoths, Theodoric, lost his life in the struggle.

Attila was beaten back, and under the protection of his Hunnic archers made his retreat. Some wanted Aetius to pursue and destroy the Hun, but Aetius decided, probably wisely, that his own forces had been so reduced, that to begin another battle would potentially transform a world-historical victory into a devastating defeat. For although greatly weakened, the Hun forces were still capable of inflicting damage. Attila had been turned back, the West had been saved to survive and fight another day.

That day would come soon enough, when Attila invaded and devastated Italy in 452. Attila claimed he would conquer all of Italy, destroy, destroy, destroy, and present Rome as a gift for his "beloved Honoria." Attila made headway, but, with weakened forces, and cowed by the cultural power of Pope Leo I, who interceded in the affair, Attila withdrew. Had he been victorious at Chalons, however, nothing would have saved Rome and the rest of Italy and all of Europe from being despoiled and decimated by the Hun.

In 453 Attila died, and the Ostrogoths, and others, finally rebelled against the Huns. At long last, the Hun nightmare ended. By joining forces, Romans and Goths, Latins and Teutons, South and North, were able to save Western Civilization, save Europe, from a possibly fatal and permanent despoilage at the hands of Attila and the East. Traditionally hostile, these peoples recognized the common racial/cultural Western heritage that bound them together, and the alienness that marked the Hun, the "other." Therein lies the important lesson of the great victory of Chalons. Despite the foolishness of earlier Romans in coddling the Huns, and in spite of the treason of Honoria and Gaiseric, the Men of the West were able to come together and win. Future battles against the "other" -- Mongol, Moor, Saracen and Turk -- would be necessary to ensure the future of the West, but in 451 A.D., Aetius and Theodoric did their part, and allowed for the birth of the modern Faustian age of Western Civilization. To honor them, to honor the idea of pan-European, pan-Western UNITY in the face of the "other," we celebrate June 20th as "Chalons Day," and reaffirm the ideal of Western Unity in our own day and age, where it is sorely needed to battle the modern-day equivalents of Attila, who would destroy the West just as surely as the Huns.

Back to VNN Main Page

Click Here!