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Roumania Past and Present eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 315 pages of information about Roumania Past and Present.

[Footnote 109:  See Appendix I.]

[Footnote 110:  The reader will find most of the chief places named in the course of this historical sketch indicated on the historical map, but we have purposely refrained from making repeated references to it, and even, in many cases, to authorities on history, where that would interfere unnecessarily with the continuity of the narrative.]

II.

The Huns who drove out the Goths and followed them in the occupation of the country, are supposed by some to be of Scythian, by others even of Chinese origin, and Gibbon has very graphically described their first appearance and movements.  ‘The numbers,’ he says, ’the strength, the rapid motions, and the implacable cruelty of the Huns were felt, and dreaded and magnified by the astonished Goths, who beheld their fields and villages consumed with flames and deluged with indiscriminate slaughter.  To these real terrors were added the surprise and abhorrence which were excited by the shrill voice, the uncouth gestures, and the strange deformity of the Huns.  These savages of Scythia were compared (and the picture had some resemblance) to the animals who walked very awkwardly on two legs, and to the misshapen figures, the Termini, which were often placed on the bridges of antiquity.  They were distinguished from the rest of the human species by their broad shoulders, flat noses, and small black eyes deeply buried in the head, and as they were almost destitute of beards they never enjoyed either the manly graces of youth or the venerable aspect of age.’[111] These were the beings who devastated and dominated in Dacia for three-fourths of a century (375 to about 453 A.D.), and others such as these, we may add, were still harrying the peacefully disposed population six or seven hundred years subsequently, when the ultra-barbarian regime was about drawing to a close.

But the rule of the Huns was not uninterrupted.  Shortly after they obtained possession of the Gothic kingdom in Dacia they were defeated by the Emperor Theodosius I. (about 378), but from that time until the reign of their King Attila (’the scourge of God’) nothing of importance is noted in their history.  This monarch not only brought the whole of Dacia under the yoke, but (about 443) he conquered Moesia, and pressed the Romans so hard that Theodosius II. (408-450), as well as the Eastern Emperor, were glad to make peace with him, by which he retained the greater part of his conquests north of the Danube.  It is impossible, nor would it be legitimate here, to follow Attila through his victorious career.  All we need to mention is that when the tide was turning against him, the vassal tribes, whom he had dragged through Europe as allies, deserted him, and the Gepidae, a branch of the great Gothic nation, helped to hasten his downfall; for, revolting under their chief Ardaric, they not only defeated his army, but became masters of the whole of Dacia.  At the conclusion of the reign of Attila, who died or was murdered about A.D. 453, the Huns were driven back into Asia, whence they once more invaded Europe a few years later; but, although we hear of them casually, in union with other tribes, more than a century afterwards (about 564), they never recovered their power in Dacia, and are of no further interest to us in this connection.

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