Valentinian III, made a treaty with him, and even yielded up to him all right to the old Roman province of Africa; but Genseric had a strong fleet of ships, and went on attacking and plundering Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia, Italy and the coasts of Greece.
Britain, at the same time, was being so tormented by the attacks of the Saxons by sea, and the Caledonians from the north, that her chiefs sent a piteous letter to Aetius in Gaul, beginning with “The groans of the Britons;” but Aetius could send no help, and Gaul itself was being overrun by the Goths in the south, the Burgundians in the middle, and the Franks in the north, so that scarcely more than Italy itself remained to Valentinian.
[Illustration: VANDALS PLUNDERING]
The Eastern half of the Empire was better off, though it was tormented by the Persians in the East, on the northern border by the Eastern Goths or Ostrogoths, who had stayed on the banks of the Danube instead of coming to Italy, and to the south by the Vandals from Africa. But Pulcheria was so wise and good that, when her young brother Theodosius II. died without children, the people begged her to choose a husband who might be an Emperor for them. She chose a wise old senator named Marcian, and when he died, she again chose another good and wise man named Zeno; and thus the Eastern Empire stood while the West was fast crumbling away. The nobles were almost all vain, weak cowards, who only thought of themselves, and left strangers to fight their battles; and every one was cowed with fear, for a more terrible foe than any was now coming on them.
[Illustration: PYRAMIDS AND SPHINX IN EGYPT.]
ATTILA THE HUN
The terrible enemy who was coming against the unhappy Roman Empire was the nation of Huns, a wild, savage race, who were of the same stock as the Tartars, and dwelt as they do in the northern parts of Asia, keeping huge herds of horses, spending their life on horseback, and using mares’ milk as food. They were an ugly, small, but active race, and used to cut their children’s faces that the scars might make them look more terrible to their enemies. Just at this time a great spirit of conquest had come upon them, and they had, as said before, driven the Goths over the Danube fifty years ago, and seized the lands we still call Hungary. A most mighty and warlike chief called Attila had become their head, and wherever he went his track was marked by blood and flame, so that he was called “The Scourge of God.” His home was on the banks of the Theiss, in a camp enclosed with trunks of trees, for he did not care to dwell in cities or establish a kingdom, though the wild tribes of Huns from the furthest parts of Asia followed his standard—a sword fastened to a pole, which was said to be also his idol.
[Illustration: HUNNISH CAMP.]