Bleda

Bleda

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Bleda (c. 390 – 445) was a Hun ruler, the brother of Attila the Hun
Attila the Hun
Attila , more frequently referred to as Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns from 434 until his death in 453. He was leader of the Hunnic Empire, which stretched from the Ural River to the Rhine River and from the Danube River to the Baltic Sea. During his reign he was one of the most feared...

.

As nephews to Rugila
Rugila
Rugila also referred to as Rua, Ruhas, Ruga and Rona , was a warlord who was a major factor in the Huns' early victories over the Roman Empire. He served as an important forerunner to Attila the Hun during the fifth century AD. Initially he had ruled together with his brother Octar , who died ca....

, Attila and his elder brother Bleda succeeded him to the throne
Throne
A throne is the official chair or seat upon which a monarch is seated on state or ceremonial occasions. "Throne" in an abstract sense can also refer to the monarchy or the Crown itself, an instance of metonymy, and is also used in many expressions such as "the power behind the...

. His reign lasted for eleven years until his death. While it has been speculated throughout history that Attila murdered him on a hunting trip, no one knows how he died. However there is an alternative theory that Bleda attempted to kill Attila on a hunting trip, but Attila being a skilled warrior defeated Bleda. One of the few things known about Bleda is that, after the great Hun campaign of 441, he acquired a Moorish dwarf
Dwarfism
Dwarfism is short stature resulting from a medical condition. It is sometimes defined as an adult height of less than 4 feet 10 inches  , although this definition is problematic because short stature in itself is not a disorder....

 named Zerco. Bleda was highly amused by Zerco and went so far as to make a suit of armor for the dwarf so that Zerco could accompany him on campaign.

Bleda (Buda) and Attila's rule


By 432, the Huns were united under Rugila. His death in 434 left his nephews Attila and Bleda (the sons of his brother Mundzuk) in control over all the united Hun tribes. At the time of their accession, the Huns were bargaining with Byzantine emperor Theodosius II
Theodosius II
Theodosius II , commonly surnamed Theodosius the Younger, or Theodosius the Calligrapher, was Byzantine Emperor from 408 to 450. He is mostly known for promulgating the Theodosian law code, and for the construction of the Theodosian Walls of Constantinople...

's envoys over the return of several renegade tribes who had taken refuge within the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

. The following year, Attila and Bleda met with the imperial legation at Margus (present-day Požarevac
Požarevac
Požarevac is a city and municipality in eastern Serbia. It is the administrative center of the Braničevo District of Serbia...

) and, all seated on horseback in the Hunnic manner, negotiated a successful treaty: the Romans agreed not only to return the fugitive tribes (who had been a welcome aid against the Vandals
Vandals
The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the 5th century. The Vandals under king Genseric entered Africa in 429 and by 439 established a kingdom which included the Roman Africa province, besides the islands of Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearics....

), but also to double their previous tribute of 350 Roman pounds (ca. 114.5 kg) of gold, open their markets to Hunnish traders, and pay a ransom of eight solidi
Solidus
Solidus may refer to:*Solidus , the "⁄" grammatical punctuation character, also used in mathematics*Slash a sign, "/" used as a punctuation mark and for various other purposes...

for each Roman taken prisoner by the Huns. The Huns, satisfied with the treaty, decamped from the empire and returned to their home, perhaps to consolidate and strengthen their empire. Theodosius used this opportunity to strengthen the walls of Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, building the city's first sea wall, and to build up his border defenses along the Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

.

For the next five years, the Huns stayed out of Roman sight as they tried to invade the Persian Empire
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

. A defeat in Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

 caused them to abandon this attempt and return their attentions to Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. In 440, they reappeared on the borders of the Roman Empire, attacking the merchants at the market on the north bank of the Danube that had been established by the treaty. Attila and Bleda threatened further war, claiming that the Romans had failed to fulfill their treaty obligations and that the Bishop of Margus
Požarevac
Požarevac is a city and municipality in eastern Serbia. It is the administrative center of the Braničevo District of Serbia...

 had crossed the Danube to ransack and desecrate the royal Hun graves on the Danube's north bank. They crossed the Danube and laid waste to Illyrian cities and forts on the river, among them, according to Priscus, Viminacium
Viminacium
Viminacium was a major city and military camp of the Roman province of Moesia , and the capital of Moesia Superior. The archeological site occupies a total of 450 hectares. Viminacium is located 12 km from Kostolac, was devastated by Huns in the 5th century, but rebuilt by Justinian...

 (present-day Kostolac
Kostolac
Kostolac is a small Serbian town on the Danube river in the Braničevo District. The remains of the Roman capital of the province of Moesia Superior Viminacium are located near Stari Kostolac some 2 km to the east of Kostolac. Kostolac is situated in the municipality of Požarevac...

), which was a city of the Moesia
Moesia
Moesia was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans, along the south bank of the Danube River. It included territories of modern-day Southern Serbia , Northern Republic of Macedonia, Northern Bulgaria, Romanian Dobrudja, Southern Moldova, and Budjak .-History:In ancient...

ns in Illyria
Illyria
In classical antiquity, Illyria was a region in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula inhabited by the Illyrians....

. Their advance began at Margus, for when the Romans discussed handing over the offending bishop, he slipped away secretly to the Huns and betrayed the city to them.

Theodosius had stripped the river's defenses in response to the Vandal Gaiseric's capture of Carthage
Carthage
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

 in 440 and the Sassanid Yazdegerd II
Yazdegerd II
Yazdegerd II was the fifteenth Sassanid King of Persia. He was the son of Bahram V and reigned from 438 to 457....

's invasion of Armenia in 441. This left Attila and Bleda a clear path through Illyria into the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

, which they invaded in 441. The Hunnish army, having sacked Margus and Viminacium, took Singidunum (modern Belgrade
Belgrade
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. According to official results of Census 2011, the city has a population of 1,639,121. It is one of the 15 largest cities in Europe...

) and Sirmium
Sirmium
Sirmium was a city in ancient Roman Pannonia. Firstly mentioned in the 4th century BC and originally inhabited by the Illyrians and Celts, it was conquered by the Romans in the 1st century BC and subsequently became the capital of the Roman province of Lower Pannonia. In 294 AD, Sirmium was...

 (modern Sremska Mitrovica
Sremska Mitrovica
Sremska Mitrovica is a city and municipality located in the Vojvodina province of Serbia, on the left bank of the Sava river. As of 2002 the town had a total population of 39,041, while Sremska Mitrovica municipality had a population of 85,605...

)before halting. A lull followed in 442, and, during this time, Theodosius recalled his troops from North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

 and ordered a large new issue of coins to finance operations against the Huns. Having made these preparations, he thought it safe to refuse the Hunnish kings' demands.

Attila and Bleda responded by renewing their campaign in 443. Striking along the Danube, they overran the military centers of Ratiaria
Ratiaria
Ratiaria was a city founded by Moesi, a Daco-Thracian tribe, in 4th century BC, along the river Danube. The city had a gold mine in the vicinity, which was exploited by the Thracians.It is located 2 km west of present village Archar in Vidin Province, northwestern Bulgaria...

 and successfully besieged Naissus (modern Niš
Niš
Niš is the largest city of southern Serbia and third-largest city in Serbia . According to the data from 2011, the city of Niš has a population of 177,972 inhabitants, while the city municipality has a population of 257,867. The city covers an area of about 597 km2, including the urban area,...

) with battering ram
Battering ram
A battering ram is a siege engine originating in ancient times and designed to break open the masonry walls of fortifications or splinter their wooden gates...

s and rolling towers (military sophistication that was new to the Hun repertory), then, pushing along the Nisava
Nišava
The Nišava or Nishava is a river in Bulgaria and Serbia, a right tributary, and with a length of 218 km also the longest one, of the Južna Morava.- Bulgaria :...

, they took Serdica (Sofia), Philippopolis
Plovdiv
Plovdiv is the second-largest city in Bulgaria after Sofia with a population of 338,153 inhabitants according to Census 2011. Plovdiv's history spans some 6,000 years, with traces of a Neolithic settlement dating to roughly 4000 BC; it is one of the oldest cities in Europe...

 (Plovdiv) and Arcadiopolis (Luleburgaz). They encountered and destroyed the Roman force outside Constantinople and were only halted by their lack of siege equipment capable of breaching the city's massive walls. Theodosius admitted defeat and sent the court official Anatolius to negotiate peace terms, which were harsher than the previous treaty: the Emperor agreed to hand over 6,000 Roman pounds (ca. 1,963 kg) of gold as punishment for having disobeyed the terms of the treaty during the invasion; the yearly tribute was tripled, rising to 2,100 Roman pounds (ca. 687 kg) in gold; and the ransom for each Roman prisoner rose to twelve solidi.

Their demands met for a time, the Hun kings withdrew into the interior of their empire. According to Jordanes
Jordanes
Jordanes, also written Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th century Roman bureaucrat, who turned his hand to history later in life....

 (following Priscus), sometime during the peace following the Huns' withdrawal from Byzantium (probably around 445), Bleda died (killed by his brother, according to the classical sources), and Attila took the throne for himself. A few sources indicate that Bleda tried to kill Attila first, to which Attila retaliated.

In 448, Priscus
Priscus
Priscus of Panium was a late Roman diplomat, sophist and historian from Rumelifeneri living in the Roman Empire during the 5th century. He accompanied Maximinus, the ambassador of Theodosius II, to the court of Attila in 448...

 encountered Bleda's widow, then governor of an unnamed village, while on an embassy to Attila's court.

See also

  • Buda
    Buda
    For detailed information see: History of Buda CastleBuda is the western part of the Hungarian capital Budapest on the west bank of the Danube. The name Buda takes its name from the name of Bleda the Hun ruler, whose name is also Buda in Hungarian.Buda comprises about one-third of Budapest's...

     (Bleda), Hungary
    Hungary
    Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

  • Budapest
    Budapest
    Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...