1047 BARBARIAN ASCENDENCY-TRIBES OF THE NORTHl'
inhabitants were made known to Europe until about
the middle of the twelfth century, when intercourse was opened up between Riga and the
West by the merchants of Bremen. The
existence of Lithuania and her people was
made known a century and a half earlier, at
which time the inhabitants were still in a state
of half-savagery, subsisting for the most part
on wild products of the woods. From this
time forth their country became subject to
the various Russian princes who were just
then beginning to be felt in the affairs of Europe. In the twelfth century they achieved
their independence, and in the thirteenth
maintained it in a long and severe struggle
with the Teutonic knights who had established themselves on the shores of the Baltic.
The third or Scythic division of the barbarian nations included, besides the great race
of the Huns, the Alani or Alans, the Averi,
the Bulgarians, the Hungarians, the Turks,
and the Tartars. Of all the savage peoples
who beat along the borders of the Roman Empire and finally broke through and destroyed
the civilization of the ancient world, the most
ferocious were the Huns. Beyond their
Asiatic origin, nothing has been ascertained
of their primitive history. To the Greeks
they were known, in a general way, by the
name of Chuni, and by that title they are described by the historian Ptolemy as early as
the second century of our era. They are believed to have come originally of a Tartar
stock, and to have had their primitive seats in
the country north of the great wall of China.
After long and bloody wars with the Chinese,
they were at last subdued by the emperor
Vonti; but the unbroken spirit led to a migration of the race in preference to submission.
Accordingly, in the first century of our era,
they left their original settlements to discover
and conquer new homes in the West. One
division of the tribes, known as the White
Huns, took possession of the country east of
the Caspian, but the great body continued
their westward march to the banks of the
Volga. In the course of the third century
they crossed the river and overran the country
of the Alani, many of whom they incorporated with their own nation. After another century, continuing their mardi to the west
they fell upon the Goths, and, in A. D.375,
defeated them in battle. Then it was that
the Gothic people were pressed between the
upper and the nether millstone. Behind them
were the swords of the Huns, and before them
the lances of the Romans. It was in this
emergency that the Goths sought and obtained
permission to settle within the borders of the
Empire. The Huns then fixed their habitation on the banks of the Don and the Dnieper.
They took possession of Pannonia. Rome
fought for the defense of her provinces, but
Attila, the "Scourge of God," led his tremendous armies of savages to glut themselves
with the accumulated spoils of centuries.
In A. D. 453 Attila died, and the vast
dominion which he had established fell
to pieces. His followers were broken up
into bands, and gradually amalgamated with.
succeeding hordes of barbarians from the
North. Of all the wide dominions, ruled by
the sword rather than the scepter of Attila,
only the modern kingdom of Hungary has
preserved the name of his ferocious people
and only the Magyars are of Hunnish descent.
The origin of the Alani is shrouded in uncertainty. They appear to have migrated
from the eastern part of the Caucasus to the
river Don. During the reign of Aurelian
they were associated with the Goths in an
expedition into Asia Minor. Near the dose
of the fourth century they were defeated by
the Huns, whom they presently afterwards
joined in a war with the Goths. In the year
406 they were confederated with the Suevi.
and the Vandals, who were then engaged in
devastating Gaul. Subsequently a colony of
Alans occupied the country south of the
Loire, while another established itself in Spain.
A portion of Northern Italy was also occupied by the Alani until they were displaced
by subsequent invasions.
The third of the Scythic tribes that contributed to the overthrow of ancient civilization was the Avari or Avars. They first
appeared in the West about the middle of the
sixth century, when they began to try the
Roman outposts on the line of the Danube.