In AD 453 Attila, with a huge force composed of Huns, allies and vassals drawn from his already-vast empire, was rampaging westward across Gaul (essentially modern France), then still nominally part of the Western Roman Empire. Laying siege to Orleans, he was only a few days march from extending his empire from the Eurasian steppe to the Atlantic. He was brought to battle on the Cataluanian Plain and defeated by a coalition hastily assembled and led by Aetius. Who was this man that saved Western Europe from the Hunnic yoke?
While Attila is a household name, his nemesis remains relatively obscure. Aetius is one of the major figures in the history of the Late Roman Empire and his actions helped maintain the integrity of the West in the declining years of the Empire. During the course of his life he was a hostage, first with Alaric and the Goths, and then with Rugila, King of the Huns. His stay with these two peoples helped to give him an unparalleled insight into the minds and military techniques of these barbarians which he was to use in later years to halt the depredations of the Huns. That this saviour of Rome was himself half Scythian is indicative of the complexity of the late Roman world.
Ian Hughes assesses his fascinating career and campaigns with the same accessible narrative and analysis he brought to bear on Belisarius and Stilicho. This is a long-overdue biography of a major, yet neglected, player in the Late Classical world.
It is the sort of history book which I prefer…. Well researched and detailed, with the sources named for every fact in the extensive notes, but offering theories and possibilities when the inevitable holes appear. There are 15 detailed maps and 32 well-chosen plates, a necessary chronology, biographical notes, and imperial family tree.Dr John Viggers, Freelance
This book is another excellent read from Pen and Sword. Highly recommended.
The following topics were excellently described in this book:Great Models
a- The roman and barbarian armies’ hierarchy, armor, weapons, tactics and overall capacities.
b- The intricate diplomacies between the barbarian nations and the roman empire
c- The battle between Aetius and Attila on the Catalonian planes
d- The geo-strategic importance of Gaul,
Spain and Africa to the Empire
A word of caution though on the author’s style. The latter is quite scholarly and in the first half of the book is almost completely devoid of drama. This changes towards the second half of the book until the end and is quite enjoyable.
This book is highly recommended for historical enthusiasts with special interest in the Late Roman Empire.
Aetius: Attila's Nemesis is Ian Huges's latest offering, fitting in nicely among his earlier works on Belisarius and Stilicho. Hughes has made a valiant effort to bring some clarity to the bewildering series of events that ultimately led to the demise of the Western Empire. Hughes does far more than merely narrating the history of Aetius' life and his dealings with Attlia. The book is in effect a comprehensive history of the (western) Roman Empire throughout the pivitol fifth century. HughesAncient Warfare
A well constructed description of the political and military context, backed by significant sources and excellent maps. An essential read in understanding the events leading to the defining battle of the Cataluanian Plain.Michael McCarthy
Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide