Nomadic people from Asia who appeared in the West in 375, defeating the Ostrogoths and driving the Visigoths (qq.v.) across the Danube (q.v.) in 376. Under their "king" Attila (q.v.), from 434-453, the Hunnic empire reached its greatest extent; after his death it disintegrated. The overall historical role of the Huns is controversial. It can be argued that the Huns helped to delay the breakup of the Roman Empire in the West by the control they exerted over Germanic peoples beyond the Danube, and that they served another valuable function in supplying mercenaries for imperial armies. It can also be argued that the Huns hastened the process of disintegration by driving the Germans, especially the Visigoths, deeper and far earlier into imperial territory. Another Hunnic people, the Ephthalites (q.v.), the so-called "White Huns" (due to their fair complexion), menaced Persia (q.v.) from 427-557.

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