Page 1047

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.