Attila (d. 453) was the king of the Huns, a savage, horse-riding steppe people who entered Europe from Central Asia in the 5fth century. The Huns had failed in their attempts to conquer China a couple of centuries earlier, and had gradually been making their way westwards, subduing some peoples and driving others before them, setting off the wave of barbarian invasions of the Roman Empire in the 3rd Century. By the late 4th Century the Huns were in what is now Ukraine. In the next century they extended their rule over most of Europe north of the Rhine and Danube, and began pestering Rome. Attila became co-king, with his brother, in 433, when their father died. Not long afterwards the brother died (probably bumped off), and Attila assumed sole power. For nearly 20 years Attila and the Huns terrorized the Empire almost at will. Defeated near Chalons in 451, he invaded Italy itself the following year, only turning away from sacking Rome by a visit from the Pope (who probably brought a large bribe). The following year Attila decided to take a new 16-year old bride, and died in her arms on their wedding night. Attila's memory lingered in a variety of ways, not least in the character of Etzel in the Niebelungenlied.