четвъртък, 29 март 2012 г.

Pope Leo I meets Attila in Italy in year 452

by Cyril Milchev
and Nick Simeonov


Prosper Tiro of Aquitania; (around 390 by Limoges; † after 455 in Rome) is a late antiquity writer of 5th century. He works in the office of Pope Leo I “The Great”, to whom he was a secretary. He was advisor on questions of basic Christian dogmas. Prosper took part in preparation of Pope’s correspondence, thou he managed to write his own works as well. Prosper is the author of “World Chronic”, comprising information up to year 455 and of this chronic we have the following account of events:

Attila, the leader of the Huns, who was called the scourge of God, came into Italy, inflamed with fury, after he had laid waste with most savage frenzy Thrace and Illyricum, Macedonia and Moesia, Achaia and Greece, Pannonia and Germany. He was utterly cruel in inflicting torture, greedy in plundering, insolent in abuse. . . . He destroyed Aquileia from the foundations and razed to the ground those regal cities, Pavia and Milan ; he laid waste many other towns, and was rushing down upon Rome.

Then Leo had compassion on the calamity of Italy and Rome, and with one of the consuls and a lar,e part of the Roman senate he went to meet Attila. The old man of harmless simplicity, venerable in his gray hair and his majestic garb, ready of his own will to give himself entirely for the defense of his flock, went forth to meet the tyrant who was destroying all things. He met Attila, it is said, in the neighborhood of the river Mincio, and he spoke to the grim monarch, saying:
"The senate and the people of Rome, once conquerors of the world, now indeed vanquished, come before thee as suppliants. We pray for mercy and deliverance. O Attila, thou king of kings, thou couldst have no greater glory than to see suppliant at thy feet this people before whom once all peoples and kings lay suppliant. Thou hast subdued, O Attila, the whole circle of the lands which it was granted to the Romans, victors over all peoples, to conquer. Now we pray that thou, who hast conquered others, shouldst conquer thyself The people have felt thy scourge; now as suppliants they would feel thy mercy."
As Leo said these things Attila stood looking upon his venerable garb and aspect, silent, as if thinking deeply. And lo, suddenly there were seen the apostles Peter and Paul, clad like bishops, standing by Leo, the one on the right hand, the other on the left. They held swords stretched out over his head, and threatened Attila with death if he did not obey the pope's command. Wherefore Attila was appeased he who had raged as one mad. He by Leo's intercession, straightway promised a lasting peace and withdrew beyond the Danube."




From the accounts translated by J. H. Robinson,
Readings in European History, (Boston: Ginn, 1905), pp. 49-51


REMARKS ON THE HISTORICAL ACCOUNT:

Attila had risen to great power and gloriously triumphed throughout the Eastern and the Western part of the Roman Empire. During 451 he arrived in Belgica with an army, exaggerated by Jordanes to half a million warriors and soon made his intentions clear. On April 7th Attila captured Metz; and Aetius moved his forces to oppose him, gathering troops from among the Franks, the Burgundians, and the Celts, etc. A mission to him led by Avitus, and Attila's continued westward advance, convinced the Visigothic king Theodoric I to accept alliance with the Romans. Their combined armies would reach Orleans before Attila, thus checking and turning back the Hunnish advance. Aetius gave chase and reached the Huns at a place called Châlons-en-Champagne. The armies clashed in the “Battle of Chalons”, whose outcome commonly, though erroneously, is attributed to be a victory for the Gothic-Roman alliance. Theodoric was killed in the fighting. Aetius failed to press his advantage, and the alliance quickly disbanded. Attila withdrew to continue his campaign against Italy.
Attila returned in 452 to claim his marriage to Honoria once again, invading and ravaging Italy along the way; his army sacked numerous cities and razed Aquileia completely, leaving no trace of it behind. Emperor Valentinian fled from Ravenna to Rome; Aetius remained in strategic position close to Attila’s forces but lacked the strength to offer a battle. Some accounts suggest that this time the mighty Aetius was scared. Attila finally halted at the Po, where he met an embassy including the prefect Trigetius, the consul Aviennus, and Pope Leo I. After the meeting he turned his army back, having claimed neither Honoria's hand nor the territories he desired. On the next year- 453, Attila dies.





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