I recently read an article that suggests that perhaps the Huns invading Rome had once been a foe and eventually conquered and forced to migrate by the Mongol empire,this interesting idea completely changed my concept of the Huns and their war tactics,but is it actually fact?

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    The Mongol Empire emerged almost a thousand years after the Huns vanished as a identified group... That said, the Mongols were probably descended from peoples that once were in contact with the Huns.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 16:19
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    It will be difficult to garner more questions and finish the beta if we insult new users. I think the site is better served by providing a factual answer with a minimum of abuse (let me hasten to acknowledge that I have dealt out my share of abuse in the past).
    – MCW
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 17:54
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    I think they may have been confused between the Huns and the Hungarians (Magyars). The latter did do battle with the Mongols. Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 17:54
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    OK...it took me a while (kinda slow today for some reason), but I remember where I heard something similar to this now. This did actually used to be a serious theory. Updated my answer.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 19:01
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    sorry everyone.I've just finished reading a biography of Atilla the hun and i agree this is a terrible question.Apparently the Xiongnu who most scholars seem to agree were most likely ancestors of the Huns,had left Mongolia hundereds of years before the Mongols arrived.
    – turinsbane
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 11:16

1 Answer 1


When most people think of "Huns" and "Mongols", they are thinking of Atilla's empire of the mid 400's and Genghis Khan's Mongolian Empire of the 1200's. Since there's a good 800 years between them, obviously the answer is "no" on that level.

It sounds like what you heard is the story of the Yuezhi. As you can probably tell from the name, we know about them through Chinese records. In the 2nd century BC the Chinese report they were defeated by the Xiongnu. The Xiongnu were based in Mongolia, but predated the Mongol people by a long ways (and are actually yet another candidate for the ancestors of the Huns).

The larger part of the Yuezhi were chased westward. There used to be a serious theory that these were the people westerners called "Huns", and this is how they came to be in the Caspian Sea area that we find the Huns in 600 years later. My sainted Penguin Atlas of Ancient History shows this on one of its maps. I couldn't find a copy online, but here's an intermediate map from that book that postulates the Huns being in the position they'd have to be in if they were descended from the Yuezhi (for historiographical purposes only!). Note that the date is actually prior to any historical record of the Huns, so this is just his supposition.

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However, that theory is one of many, and not a particularly favored one these days either. As of now there is no consensus on who the Huns were, or where they came from, and this is not one of the leading theories. Even Mr. McEverdy "corrected" this in the "New ..." edition of his atlases. If you look at the ones for sale today, the Huns do not appear on any map prior to 362AD, when they appear in western sources.

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    Wow, I never realized Finns had such a big empire...
    – Greg
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 2:01
  • @Greg: They probably did not - that looks more like an assumed linguistic area (including the ancestors of modern Hungarian - not related to the Huns) which probably would have been split into small groups like the Germanic speakers, but with no written records to indicate what was where.
    – Henry
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 6:43
  • @Henry The ancestors of Hungarians most probably has only lingual connection to the Finns, but no (or little) blood connection. But I agree that this map is an (unfortunate) mixture of political borders, and borders of ethnic and lingual groups.
    – Greg
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 8:10
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    You are correct. In general, the maps in Colin's books show cultural borders rather than purely political ones. The areas that denote actual states have solid lines around them. The shadings are linguistic-based, with related languages having the same theme (eg: hashed for Afro-Asiatic, parallel lines for Indo-European), although sometimes he drops the shading for clarity's sake. There's a very lengthy discourse on his mapping strategy at the start of his books, as understanding it is obviously key to understanding his maps.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 12:44
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    ...That "Finn" area should probably be taken as the extent of Finno-Ugric (aka: "Uralic") people. IIRC, their culture was mostly based on raindeer herding, with a bit of hunting-gathering thrown in. So that's basically saying they were living across this basic area (which we know due to modern linguistic data), and we don't have any information about anyone else living up in that area at that time. ...back in the '50 when this old map was made. There would have been a page of explanation for each map page explaining details like this.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 12:49

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