Attila the Hun - DEATH IN LOMBARDY

Ruins of Aquileia, a Once-Great Roman Town Disasters Ancient Places and/or Civilizations World History

This photo depicts the ruins of Aquileia, a once-great town of Ancient Rome. The place was utterly destroyed by Attila and his Huns. Image by Zavijavah, online via Wikimedia Commons. License: CC BY-SA 3.0


After fighting on the Catalaunian Fields, Attila and the Huns went home. In the spring of 452, they traveled to the Lombardia region. Death and destruction were about to befall the towns of Lombardy.

Aquileia - at the head of the Adriatic Sea, northeast of the imperial capital of Ravenna - was completely laid waste by the invaders. Located west of Trieste, Aquileia was established by the Romans, during the days of the Republic, as a strategic military location.

Serving its purpose for hundreds of years, Aquileia also prevented barbarians from invading Italy. Caesar Augustus met with Herod the Great here in 10 B.C. The Postumian Way ended at Aquileia and other roads led from it to other Roman provinces.

Initially, Attila thought his siege of Aquileia had failed, and he was ready to lift it. Then - according to legend - the Hun leader saw birds unexpectedly fly out of the city. Trusting in omens as he did, and knowing that animals often leave before disaster strikes, Attila reinstated the siege. Before Attila, the town was impregnable. After Attila, it never recovered. The destruction to the city was total and absolute.

Avoiding Ravenna, then the capital of the Western Roman Empire (and known today as the "capital of mosaics"), Attila was less generous to other towns. Let’s virtually visit a few of them:

  • Padua (Padova), for centuries home to a famous university, fell. It has long been said that people fleeing Padua (the link depicts a woodcut from the famous Nuremberg Chronicle), in advance of Attila’s arrival, founded the city of Venice (also called Venezia).

  • Verona’s fortifications provided little defense for that ancient town. It, too, fell.

  • Brescia (Brixiae) was taken without difficulty.

  • So was Bergamo.

  • Milano (known as Mediolanum to the ancients and home today of the famous Duomo Cathedral) offered no resistance.

  • The Huns pillaged Pavia (then called Ticinum - it is located on the Ticino River); it also fell. In Pavia’s beautiful Charterhouse Monastery (Certosa di Pavia), a medallion (with the words Flagellum Dei - "Scourge of God") depicts Attila. (It does not match the physical description of Priscus who personally met Attila.)

On the banks of the Mincio River, not far from Mantua (Mantova), Attila met Pope Leo the Great. At issue was whether the Huns would attack Rome.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Feb 01, 2004

Updated Last Revision: May 08, 2015

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"DEATH IN LOMBARDY" AwesomeStories.com. Feb 01, 2004. May 26, 2020.
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