Of all of the ways in which to go, this would have to be one of the less ceremonial ways, especially for a ruler renowned for his leadership and ferocity. The scourge of Rome in the 5th century, Attila the Hun died of a nosebleed. This kind of reminds me of the episode in the Simpsons where Ralph is talking to Lisa. “The doctor told me I wouldn’t have so many nosebleeds if I just kept my finger out of there.” While this was the cause of the many nosebleeds of poor Ralph Wigum, and countless young children around the world, the same can not be said about Attila the Hun. His very untimely death was a little more complicated than a finger up the nose.
Attila the Hun was the ruler of the Hunnic Empire from 434 until his death in 453. His empire covered much of Eastern Europe and the Southern parts of modern day Russia. They were a constant pain for the Eastern Roman Empire, and other empires that bordered their own. They were, without a doubt, a real force to be reckoned with. But for all their glory on the battlefield, it was the inglorious death of Attila that is most intriguing.
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His death is shrouded in mystery, but one thing seems to remain constant in just about all versions. Attila the Hun died of a nosebleed, or a nosebleed was a significant factor in his death.
In March 453 he had just married his new wife Ildico. During the celebrations that night he got a nosebleed of massive proportions, choked in a stupor and died. But a death like this has to raise more than a few questions. Like, what caused such a massive nosebleed, and did it really happen.
There are a few theories abound regarding his death. Some scholars believe that he may have suffered from a rupture in the veins in his esophagus, and suffered a hemorrhage. The cause of a rupture was most likely due to his heavy drinking. Heavy drinking of alcohol can lead to an acid reflux disease. The acid reflux can lead to ruptures and bleeds in the esophagus. So if this were the case, Attila the Hun didn’t really die from a nosebleed, but from a bleed inside his throat. It’s just that the blood may have been flowing out of his nose while he was bleeding and choking.
Another claim about his unusual death is that his nose just started bleeding profusely, and in the panic that followed, he choked to death. Some have also stated that he died from internal bleeding, and a final theory is that his new wife killed him, although most scholars believe this not to be the case.