On June 20, 451, the Huns and the Romans fought a massive battle in Gaul (now called France). Neither side won definitely, but the Hunnic Invasion of Gaul was stopped. But what if Aetius had not convinced Avitus to get help from the Gaulish barbarians? This ATL explores the possibility of the Hunnic Empire becoming the new Rome.
General Aetius of Rome swiftly moved his large army north from the Alps to the Catalaunian fields. There he had expected to be greeted by Goths and Frankish allies. But unlike our TL, this was not so. Attila's forces are slightly stronger in ATL and intimidate the Visigoths and Franks not to fight for the Romans. Orleans eventually fell without sufficient troops to protect it. The Huns and their allies sacked Orleans to resupply their armies. Aetius saw no option but to flee to Troyes. Attila heard of this plan, and ambushed the Romans at the crossing of the Seine. Paris and Troyes fell soon after the Roman defeat. The Hunnic conquest of Gaul had begun.
Hunnic Conquests after Chalons
Almost all of Gaul was ravaged and conquered by the seemingly endless Hunnic hordes. Many Huns moved into the ravaged Gaulish cities to fulfill the horde's many needs. Gaul was completely absorbed into the Hunnic Empire by February 452.
Invasion of Spain
In March 452, the Huns and headed even more south after defeating the Visigoths in eastern Gaul. Spain, still ravaged from the Vandals, offered little resistance. The rest of the Roman army stayed in Italy and the Alps to protect the core of the empire. The Iberian peninsula was more or less destroyed by the time the Huns arrived. The entire region fell by June, 452, a year after the Battle of the Catalaunian Fields.
Invasion of Carthage
After Spain was in Attila's hands, the Huns looked across the sea. They saw the rich and large Vandals in North Africa. The huge Vandal fleet was a huge motivational factor. On July 3, 452, the Huns crossed Gibraltar. Rather than simply moving on like other tribes, they increased the size of their empire. Tens of thousands of Huns and allies landed in north Morocco. Mounted on the fastest horses available, Attila's army moved on to Carthage. Sweeping through the Vandal kingdom, sacking along the way, it took only a few weeks to reach the walls of Carthage. There Attila's horde broke through the city's defenses. The attack was so fast and vicious that the vast Vandal sea fleet was still in port when the Huns captured the city. All of the Vandal kingdom ended up in Attila's hands. But most importantly, the Huns now had a powerful navy.
Invasion of Rome
In 453, after Gaul, Iberia and Carthage fell to Attila, he turned his eye to Rome itself. The army still in Carthage would sail north into Italy, and the rest of the horde poured down from the Alps. Milan and Aquilea were both completely razed and sacked. Rome was completely surrounded in May, 453. Unlike OTL, Attila did not stop after he met the pope. Attila himself rode into the royal palace to meet Honoria. Emperor Valentinian III was killed by the horde. Honoria was dragged back to Gaul to be married to Attila. With the Roman royal family decimated except for Honoria, the only choice of emperor was....Attila the Hun. As his first order, Attila commanded that the Byzantines rejoin the Roman/Hunnic Empire. Emperor Marcian of the eastern Empire refused. The Huns mobilized for even more conquest. But when Rome had equally lost the barbarians came and fought again.
Invasion of Egypt
The Huns began another invasion of the Eastern Roman Empire after Marcian refused more tribute and refused to rejoin empires with the west. The Huns had a large army still stationed in the eastern Mediterranean, and mobilized it to modern day Libya. The first Huns entered Egypt on July 453. Unlike most of the other recent Hunnic conquest, this one took much longer. The Huns and Byzantines were about evenly matched. Major cities along the coast were sacked savagely by the Hun hordes. Attila personally helped to fight in the Egypt campaign. Alexandria was besieged from July 453 to early April 454. Vandals fleeing from the Huns also attacked the Byzantines in Egypt. After Alexandria fell in early 454, the Huns completely controlled Egypt. Cairo was destroyed and sacked. Alexandria grew in size after the attack due to mass immigration of Hun-controlled tribes and growing wealth from nearby cities that were razed. The Hunnic Navy used Alexandria as a naval base during the sea war with the Byzantines.
After the Conquest of Egypt, the Huns could not take any more land from the Romans or Byzantines (mostly because there was almost none left to take). The Hunnic Empire covered all of the former Western Roman Empire (except for England) in addition to Egypt and much of the land north of the Byzantines and east of the Rhine river. The tribes that could not flee the Hunnic onslaught were ravaged or absorbed. The Franks, Visigoths, Vandals, Lombards, and many more were forced to farm and serve the Huns. Since the Huns were more or less devoid of culture and religion, the empire was greatly influenced by its conquered peoples.
Because of population pressure from barbarian tribes being pushed out of their land, cities are fewer but larger. Most cities are surrounded by farmland and resource producing regions. Rome is an example. Attila and his massive family settled there and formed the House of Attila. Attila's sons are educated in both Roman and Hunnic culture, language, and history. Honoria took advantage of her marriage to Attila and often advises him in important matters. The Hunnic form of government is based off the Romans. Provinces with many different tribes will have several senators each representing the major peoples of that area. Roman architecture was used when rebuilding cities for the Huns. Hunnica is built on the shores of the Black Sea near the Crimea. It is the de facto capital of the empire, even though the government stayed in Rome. Better road systems are installed by 460 to keep transportation fast. Mail stations are built. These stations are stables and barracks for mail carriers and their chariots. At each station, a carrier will drop off his mail and rest. The mail then is taken to the next station or nearest city by another carrier. A new vehicle and horses are given to the carrier at each station as well so that the horses do not get tired. Attila and Honoria ruled the empire together until 461, when Attila died of hemophiliac nosebleed.
The Hunnic Empire lost its famous king in 461. He had not appointed his heir before he died. But his two oldest sons, Ellac and Dengizich, challenged each other. To solve this problem peacefully, a constitution was written with this predicament in mind. The two were to attempt to appeal to the empires citizens and have a common vote from them. Who ever got the most valid votes would become emperor. The second place winner would fill in if the emperor was unavailable. Ellac eventually won the vote. He seemed more experienced to the voters. Unlike his father, Ellac had become immersed in the Roman way of life due to many side effects of the Hunnic constitution. He commanded the Empire from Rome. Many of his children had Roman mothers. Ellac encouraged his older children to become politicians. Most of them did. By 470, more than half of the Empire's provinces had a son of Ellac for a senator. Many different progressive programs and plans boosted Ellac and heirs popularity. The Vandal fleet was transformed into a commercial trade fleet. Throughout the empire Ellac was viewed as a great leader. Dengizich grew jealous of his brothers power. In 471, he and his followers stole a dozen warships and attempted a coup. The Hunnic army defeated them and destroyed half of the rebel navy. Dengizich and his followers fled to the north. They set up a base in Norway, subjugating nearby tribes. The Dengizites plagued on Hunnic trade routes from their pirate coves in the far north.
Allacius II's reign
After Ellac died in 475, his son rose to the throne. Ellac the Second was only a teenager when his father died from an assassin's knife. Many Romans had begun to resent the Huns after being ruled by two of them. To make the situation seem less dire, Ellac the Second changed his name to Allacius II. He worked towards cultural and racial equality in his empire. Catholic churches and cathedrals are built in formerly barbarian lands, and Germanic tribal beliefs are spread in formerly Roman lands. Early forms of Norse Mythology and Catholicism are the two major religions of the Empire. Under Allacius's reign, the Hunnic hordes settled down in the regions depopulated by the invasion. Most of them took Roman wives. To supply the settlements in Gaul and Spain with water, an aqueduct and canal system is built. Allacius is often seen as the first New Roman Emperor. In 480, Roman influence in the east caused some of the steppe dwellers to rebel. The distance and isolation of the rebellious settlements made reuniting them with the empire a daunting task. By 483, the rebels and Allacius's horde battled in what is now Russia. After months of battle, the horde retreated. Allacius made a speech about the traitorous "real Huns" of the steppes. The River Dneister becomes the Hunnic border. A short stretch of coastline is kept that connects Hunnica with the rest of the empire. Allacius died of a chronic nosebleed (evidence of his hemophiliac ancestry) in 487.
Allacius II died in 487. His son, Allacius III was only two years old, so he could no inherit the empire. Allacius's uncle, Ernacius, ascended to the throne. Ernacius was more warlike than his brother and nephew. He sought to conquer the Byzantine empire. All that was left of the Eastern Romans by this time was the southern Balkans, Anatolia, a strip of land on the Arabian Mediterranean coast, and the eastern half of Sinai. Although the Hunnic army had shrunk down since Attila's time, there were plenty of able-bodied youth who were eager to live the adventure of war. Before mobilizing his rapidly growing army, Ernacius demanded a very high tribute. Emperor Zeno of the Eastern Roman Empire was faced with a grave decision. He could send the tribute, but the Huns might still attack. If he did not, then the Huns would surely destroy his empire. Half of the army was ready in the Balkans and the other half in Egypt. The Hunnic navy blockaded Constantinople. If Zeno refused the tribute, he would be destroyed. Zeno's generals urged him to refuse; they believed they could fight off the Huns. Zeno finally sent a letter to Ernacius refusing the tribute. The War had begun.
Invasion of Byzantine Empire
In 488, Zeno refused Ernacius's demand for tribute. The Huns responded with a several dozen thousand man army. The Hunnic fleet burns and sacks many Byzantine cities. Roman weapons and Hunnic tactics combined are a powerful force. The army sweeps through the Balkans sacking whatever got in their way. A second horde attacks from the south from Egypt. Although the Huns are extremely experienced, the Byzantines are as well. What originally seemed a quick and profitable invasion, turned into a long quagmire.
The bulk of the Hunnic navy under Ernacius flushed out any Byzantine ships still alive from Greece. The Hunnic army combated the Byzantines in the canyons and ravines of southern Greece. At Thermopylae, invading Huns and defending Greek forces fought it out. Thousands rushed into the pass, only to be impaled on enemy spears. Neither side could push back the enemies without losing so many soldiers that they would be pushed back again. After days of needless bloodshed, the Hunnic commander had an idea. A wall of shields and spears whooshed forward into the Greek forces and volleys of arrows rained on the retreating forces. What is left of the Greek army retreats to Constantinople. The rest of the country falls after their army abandons them.
Siege of Constantinople
After the disastrous Battle of Thermopylae, the Greek and Byzantine army holed up in Constantinople. Ernacius's army soon arrived at the huge city's gates. A combined army of Franks, Romans, Huns, Goths, Vandals, and more surrounded the city. Siege engines tore holes in the Byzantine defenses. Ernacius himself led the army into a gap in Constantinople's walls. The army was careful to preserve what they could use after the battle. After three years of siege, Constantinople was Hunnic.
Invasion of Judea
While the Huns sacked Constantinople in the north, another horde invaded the Byzantine Empire from the south. This attack was completely unanticipated and the Byzantines were caught off guard. Jerusalem surrenders itself in the fear of getting sacked. The seemingly infinite army travels north to Lebanon and Syria. Judea fell after a two and a half years of fighting. The army rested in Jerusalem and other captured cities.
Fall of the Byzantines
In 491, the Byzantines had been destroyed everywhere but Anatolia. Two massive Hunnic armies surrounded the peninsula, aided by the famous Hunnic navy. The rocky Anatolian highlands are unfamiliar terrain for the Hunnic cavalry. To attack would be suicide for the army. Ernacius formulated a plan. With the riches captured from Constantinople and other Byzantine cites he would hire a mercenary army from the nearby Alani tribe. After the Byzantines were weakened enough by the Alanis, the Huns would attack with their newly formed infantry army. They would force the Alani to hand over anything of value captured during the campaign and wipe out their army. Then the Byzantines and the Alani would be destroyed by the Huns. In January 492, the Hunnic commanders arrived in Alan lands in the Caucasus. They signed a treaty concerning the mercenary army. By summer of 492, the Alan infantry army went to war with the Byzantines. Observing Alan and Byzantine tactics during the campaign, the Huns raised an army in the newly taken Constantinople. By 500, after the Alani and the Byzantines had been extremely weakened by the war, Ernacius's army ferried across the sea to Anatolia. As predicted, the result was catastrophic for the enemy. Both opponents were caught off guard and unaware. By 502, Asia Minor was in Hunnic hands. The Byzantines had finally fallen.
The Hunnic Legions
During the Invasion of Anatolia, the Huns had trained an elite infantry army. The army grew to many legions during and after the war. They were adorned in yellow and red to simplify the gold captured and the blood spilled. The army was divided into ten Legions. Each Legion had 10,000 men in it. In each Legion is ten Cohorts. Each Cohort had 1000 soldiers in it. The Cohorts are each divided into ten Centuries. Each Century has 100 soldiers in it. The Centuries are then divided into four Brigades, which have 25 soldiers each. The Brigades are made up of five five-man squads. The squads are the smallest group of soldiers. They slept in the same tents and ate together. Squads paired up when the situation allowed or needed it. Small groups like this allowed flexibility and easy travel. Three of the ten legions are self-sufficient and don't need supplies from the army command. This proved an advantage during the Invasion of Anatolia. By 520, the Legions grew in number to 12. They continued to grow until the end of Allacius III's reign.
After Ernacius was killed in battle in 502, Allacius III ascended to the throne. Unlike previous Hunnic Kings, Allacius III had been born after the start of the "Romanization" of the Hunnic empire. Allacius III reorganized the states of the empire. He also decreed a series of military reforms that changed the Hunnic army standards. The Cavalry received better equipment and were adorned in the same red and gold as the Legions. Artillery was widely introduced into the army as well. The Home Guard, a large policemen guard, is created. At least one Home Guard station is placed on each major street. During his reign Allacius III created an elite branch of the Hunnic Legions to serve as a bodyguard unit for the royal family. In total, the Royal Guard was about one Cohort. There were almost five hundred members of the House of Attila when Allacius III became emperor. Each one had two bodyguards each. Almost all of them lived in a separate enclave within Rome, though, so protection was not an issue. About fifty Royal family members moved to Hunnica at a separate enclave. Allacius III spent much of his personal spending and royal privilege on improvements for smaller rural communities. This emperor put major emphasis on rural farm towns and feudal manors. Hundreds were built in underpopulated border regions. Taxes are placed on larger, wealthier manor establishments.