Battle of the Catalaunian Plains summary
After a new Hunnic invasion in 451 CE, the Magister militum Flavius Aëtius convinced Theodoric I king of the Visigoths to join him. A number of other wavering tribes resident in Gaul joined as well.
- In accordance to Hunnic customs, Attila had his diviners examine the entrails of a sacrifice the morning before battle. They foretold disaster would befall the Huns and one of the enemy leaders would be killed. So Attila delayed the battle so the impending sunset would help his troops to flee the battlefield in case of defeat.
- The Hunnish forces attempted to seize the decisive central position, where the Frankish infantry stood.
- The heavily armored Frankish footsoldiers cut down the relatively light Huns and Alans
- The Hunnish warriors fled in disorder back into their own forces, thereby disordering the rest of Attila's army.
- King Theodoric, while leading his own men after the disordered enemy, was killed in the assault without his men noticing.
- The Visigoths outstripped the speed of the Alans beside them and fell upon Attila's own Hunnic household unit.
- Attila was forced to seek refuge in his own camp, which he had fortified with wagons.
- The Romano-Gothic charge swept past the Hunnic camp in pursuit
- While Attila was trapped in his camp, the Visigoths searched for their missing king and his son Thorismund. They found Theodoric's corpse beneath a mound of corpses and bore him away with heroic songs in sight of the enemy. Aëtius feared that if the Huns were completely destroyed, the Visigoths would break off their allegiance to the Roman Empire and become an even graver threat. So Aëtius convinced Thorismund to quickly return home and secure the throne for himself, before his brothers could. Otherwise, civil war would ensue among the Visigoths.
- On the Visigoths' withdrawal, Attila first believed it to be a feigned retreat to draw his battered forces out into the open for annihilation. So he remained within his defences for some time before he risked leaving his camp and returned home.