I'm looking for information on the Battle of Worms (436). Specifically, did Flavius Aetius and/or Attila command or fight there?

The Wikipedia page on Aetius, under the "Battles/wars" column, mentions only a "Sack of Worms" without any further link, and the main article about Aetius is vague about it:

In 436, the Burgundians of King Gundacar were defeated and obliged to accept peace by Aetius and Avitus; however, the following year he sent Hunnic foederati to destroy them.

Wiki on Worms city is more explicit:

Provoked by Burgundian raids against Roman settlements, the combined Romano-Hunnic army destroyed the Burgundian army at the Battle of Worms (436), killing King Gunther.

Wikipedia article on King Gunther:

Burgundian raids into Roman upper Gallia Belgica became intolerable and were ruthlessly brought to an end in 436, when the Roman general Flavius Aetius called in Hun mercenaries who overwhelmed the Rhineland kingdom (with its capital at the old Celtic Roman settlement of Borbetomagus, now called Worms) in 437.

436 year article on Wikipedia:

Flavius Aetius, Roman general (magister militum), attended to put an end to Burgundian raids in Gaul. He called in Hun mercenaries under command of Attila and his brother Bleda, which plunder Augusta Vangionum, killing some 20,000 Burgundians. The Kingdom of the Burgundians is destroyed, king Gunther and his family are killed.

Attila's article (again on Wikipedia) doesn't mention anything like that, only his link with Etzel character in the Nibelungenlied.

Searching for more information on the Internet, I found every possible version of the battle: Both Aetius and Attila were present, only one, neither, or there was no battle at all.

I'm interested in this because supposedly it's the basis of the Nibelungenlied.


Was there a battle at Worms around 436 between Burgundians and Romans (or Huns)? Did Flavius Aetius or Attila fight in it?


1 Answer 1


There was not a "Battle of Worms".This epic poem refers to the destruction of the Burgundians of Worms.

The battle was, in fact, in Belgica Prima (modern day Trier/Luxembourg). namely, in 436 A.D., Aëtius engaged the Burgundians in the area of Belgica Prima. Avitus (before he became Emperor) was also involved.

The Burgundians were a Germanic tribe. Worms (Germany) was their original capital, but its name then was "Borbetomagus".

All 3 sources (below) are consistent with the following narrative:


Germanic invaders of Gaul. Originally from Scandinavia, the Burgundians first appeared on the Main River soon after 250, but had little contact with Rome until around 406, when they crossed the Rhine, and under King Gundichar established a kingdom in the province of Germania Prima. In 436, they tried unsuccessfully to occupy Belgica Prima, suffering an appalling defeat at the hands of Flavius Aëtius, leading an army of Huns, and only narrowly escaped destruction. This defeat later became the basis of legends retold in the 12th century Middle-High German epic Nibelungenlied.

Source 1: Stanley Sandler,"Ground Warfare: An International Encyclopedia, Volume 1", (ABC-CLIO, 2002), p.133. (for paragraph above)

Source 2: The Oxford Classical Dictionary (Oxford, 2012)

Source 3: "SIDONIUS, Poems. Letters" Haravrd University, Loeb Classical Library

  • 2
    This is probably not worth a separate question, but I dimly remember reading the Nibelungenlied in childhood. While it has Gunther/Gundichar and Etzel/Atilla, it seems strange that Flavius Aetius didn't make an appearance that I recall. Or is my memory that dim?
    – Marakai
    Commented Jul 23, 2017 at 20:36
  • Alas, I'm no help on this one. I cannot remember anything other it was in 2 parts (?) ...
    – J Asia
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 3:02
  • After some research, there are apparently several attempts in research that equate F.Aetius with the character of Hagen of Tronje in the Nibelungenlied. These attempts are based on etymology as well as similarity of the attributes and origin of Aetius and Hagen. Not sure how to best me incorporate this.
    – Marakai
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 18:32
  • Gareth Morgan, "Hagen and Aetius" in Classica et Mediaevalia 30, 1969
    – Marakai
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 18:37
  • Thanks. A single reference of Aetius in Gutenberg - "The Nibelungenlied", translated by Daniel B. Shumway (Houghton-Mifflin Co., New York, 1909).
    – J Asia
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 18:45

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