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The Huns were of Mongolian origin. At the end of the fourth century, they swept out of their Asian lands and invaded Europe.

In 434 Attila became king of the Huns, jointly with his brother Bleda. Contemporary Christian writers described Attila as 'the scourge of God', and his armies were notorious for their cruelty and wholesale destruction. In 445 he killed his brother. In 447 he marched on Constantinople, and was paid to leave. Attila led the Huns to settle on the shores of the Danube from where they attacked Gaul and Italy. In 451 a combined army of Romans, Goths, and Franks defeated the Huns at Chalons in Gaul. The following year he invaded Italy. At first he was successful, but later was forced to withdraw following negotiations with Pope Leo I; however, the western Roman empire finally collapsed. When Attila died in 453 the Hunnish empire disintegrated, but their movement westwards had, in turn, dislodged other barbarian peoples from their homes, and soon Vandals, Lombards, and others were roaming over western Europe. In 455 Rome was sacked by Vandals led by Genseric.

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