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The Huns
#46
Quote:This inter-disciplinary approach allowed him to gain insights that other more narrow scholars lacked. Priscus tells a story of how, in his 452 invasion of Italy, Attila was frustrated by the resistence put up in the Siege of Aquileia. According to Priscus, Attila was walking around the walls of the city, pondering whether to maintain the siege or break camp. As he walked, he noticed storks flying out of their roosting places in the city roofs as though abandoning the city. Encouraged by this, he launched an assault and took the city by storm.

That's a nice story, but Maenchen-Helfen noticed a parallel between it and similar stories from central Asia. In the Chin shu, the biography of the Chin Era conqueror of Turkistan, Lu Kuang, a similar tale is told. In this version the general sees a golden figure flying from the besieged town of Ch'iu-tz'u and declared: "This means the Buddha and the gods are deserting them. The Hu will surely perish."

Maenchen-Helfen concludes, " ... stories like the ones told about Attila and Lu Kuang are unknown in Europe. It must be the Huns who bought them from the east." (The World of the Huns, p. 134)

The Huns' origins remains a vexed question and the old assurance that they were related to the earlier Xiong-Nu is now widely questioned. Analysis of their names from a range of sources shows most of them are Turkic, many are Indo-Iranian, some are Germanic and a few are hybrids of these languages. This probably reflects the make up of the peoples that attached themselves to the Huns and those that came to consider themselves 'Hunnic', as well as intermarriage between Huns and 'subject peoples'. It's interesting that Attila's own name is Gothic, for example.

Interesting detail, Thiudareiks Flavius. Could you put a bibliography about the Huns? (books that you considered interesting or useful)
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Valerius/Jorge
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#47
If I recall correctly, the Roman armies of Belisarius' time included Huns as horse archers - these being specfic units with a specific mission in battle. This specialized role indicates that some Huns retained the skills needed to fight as horse archers, regardless of what the rest may have been doing in Attila's time.
Felix Wang
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#48
Velissarios recruited various horse archers that croniclers call generaly "Huns" or "Skythians" some times correctly sometines not.
Kind regards
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#49
Quote: Could you put a bibliography about the Huns? (books that you considered interesting or useful)

Okay. Unfortunately there aren't as many as I'd like, but that's largely because the source material is pretty scanty. A much more up to date book along the lines of Maenchen-Helfen's work is desperately needed, especially since archaeology has advanced greatly since the 1930s and the fall of the Soviet Union means a lot of material which was not available to him are now able to be utilised.

Apart from Maenchen-Helfen, I'd also recommend C.D. Gordon's The Age of Attila: Fifth Century Byzantium and the Barbarians. It too is now out of print, but second-hand copies are available fairly readily. I bought a paperback edition for about $10, which was a bargain for such a useful book.

Gordon doesn't just cover the Huns, but details the history of the Fifth Century by reproducing translations of relevant sections of primary sources linked by his commentary. It's an excellent way of creating a narrative history while giving a general reader access to material which would normally require a good knowledge of Greek and Latin.

Erik Hildinger's Warriors of the Steppe: A Military History of Central Asia 500 BC to 1700 AD is also well worth reading. It only has one, relatively short chapter on the Huns themselves, but it does focus on military aspects. And the rest of the book puts the Huns in their Asian context and gives insights into how they probably fought and campaigned by examining parallel cultures.

The Osprey Elite volume Attila and the Nomad Hordes has the problems that such short books by Osprey always have, but it's useful because it shows line drawings of things like Hunnic arrow heads and the styles of swords and saddles they probably used.

The Blackwell 'Peoples of Europe' series seems to have missed the opportunity to publish a new overview of recent research when it brought out its volume The Huns. Instead of commissioning a scholar to write a wholly new overview, this book is simply a new edition of E.A. Thompson's A History of Attila and the Huns, which was originally published in 1948. The new edition has additional material by Peter Heather, but Thompson's work is now fairly dated and tended to take the old Classicist approach which stuck solely to Greek and Latin sources and ignored archaeology and Turkic, Mongolian and Chinese material. That said, it's still a good work by a great scholar and Heather's additions are useful.

Speaking of Peter Heather, his recent The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians adds some excellent insights into the importance of the Huns in the collapse of the Western Empire. Heather makes a persuasive case that it was three developments amongst the Huns that were the catalyst for the fall of the West - (i) the movement of the Huns into the area north of the Black Sea in the 370s, which sent Tervingian and Greuthungian Goths into the Empire, (ii) the establishment of Attila's hegemony centred on the Hungarian Basin in the 440s and his campaigns of the 450s and (iii) the collapse of the Hunnic Kingdom in the 460s, which led to a realignment of tribes on the Danube frontier with significant implications for the last decades of the Western Empire.

Heather counters Thompson's view that the Huns were actually fairly ineffective and incidental to the end of the Empire and shows that Attila had a strong grasp of strategy, was an excellent diplomat and made the Huns into a formidable military power, particularly by mastering siege tactics.

One newer book which I haven't yet read is John Man's Attila. It doesn't cover any new ground, but it's use of some data (and photos) by Hungarian re-enactors who have revived horse archery as a sport.

Rew-enactors wanting to buy Hunnic bows and swords can shop at Samarkandia, who also stock scale and lamellar made from horn. I've lost the link to the Hungarian horse archer re-enactment groups, who stage riding and archery competitions, but if I find it again, I'll post it here.

I hope that helps.
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#50
Quote:
L.Valerius Gaudentius:28qq8517 Wrote:Could you put a bibliography about the Huns? (books that you considered interesting or useful)

Okay. Unfortunately there aren't as many as I'd like, but that's largely because the source material is pretty scanty. A much more up to date book along the lines of Maenchen-Helfen's work is desperately needed, especially since archaeology has advanced greatly since the 1930s and the fall of the Soviet Union means a lot of material which was not available to him are now able to be utilised.

Apart from Maenchen-Helfen, I'd also recommend C.D. Gordon's The Age of Attila: Fifth Century Byzantium and the Barbarians. It too is now out of print, but second-hand copies are available fairly readily. I bought a paperback edition for about $10, which was a bargain for such a useful book.

Gordon doesn't just cover the Huns, but details the history of the Fifth Century by reproducing translations of relevant sections of primary sources linked by his commentary. It's an excellent way of creating a narrative history while giving a general reader access to material which would normally require a good knowledge of Greek and Latin.

Erik Hildinger's Warriors of the Steppe: A Military History of Central Asia 500 BC to 1700 AD is also well worth reading. It only has one, relatively short chapter on the Huns themselves, but it does focus on military aspects. And the rest of the book puts the Huns in their Asian context and gives insights into how they probably fought and campaigned by examining parallel cultures.

The Osprey Elite volume Attila and the Nomad Hordes has the problems that such short books by Osprey always have, but it's useful because it shows line drawings of things like Hunnic arrow heads and the styles of swords and saddles they probably used.

The Blackwell 'Peoples of Europe' series seems to have missed the opportunity to publish a new overview of recent research when it brought out its volume The Huns. Instead of commissioning a scholar to write a wholly new overview, this book is simply a new edition of E.A. Thompson's A History of Attila and the Huns, which was originally published in 1948. The new edition has additional material by Peter Heather, but Thompson's work is now fairly dated and tended to take the old Classicist approach which stuck solely to Greek and Latin sources and ignored archaeology and Turkic, Mongolian and Chinese material. That said, it's still a good work by a great scholar and Heather's additions are useful.

Speaking of Peter Heather, his recent The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians adds some excellent insights into the importance of the Huns in the collapse of the Western Empire. Heather makes a persuasive case that it was three developments amongst the Huns that were the catalyst for the fall of the West - (i) the movement of the Huns into the area north of the Black Sea in the 370s, which sent Tervingian and Greuthungian Goths into the Empire, (ii) the establishment of Attila's hegemony centred on the Hungarian Basin in the 440s and his campaigns of the 450s and (iii) the collapse of the Hunnic Kingdom in the 460s, which led to a realignment of tribes on the Danube frontier with significant implications for the last decades of the Western Empire.

Heather counters Thompson's view that the Huns were actually fairly ineffective and incidental to the end of the Empire and shows that Attila had a strong grasp of strategy, was an excellent diplomat and made the Huns into a formidable military power, particularly by mastering siege tactics.

One newer book which I haven't yet read is John Man's Attila. It doesn't cover any new ground, but it's use of some data (and photos) by Hungarian re-enactors who have revived horse archery as a sport.

Rew-enactors wanting to buy Hunnic bows and swords can shop at Samarkandia, who also stock scale and lamellar made from horn. I've lost the link to the Hungarian horse archer re-enactment groups, who stage riding and archery competitions, but if I find it again, I'll post it here.

I hope that helps.

It helps me a lot. Tongue Thanks for your work and effort, Thiudareiks. I´ll give you a "Laudes" point. 8)
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Valerius/Jorge
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#51
Quote:I hope that helps.
Yes, very helpful indeed. Thank you. I appreciate that you cited the limitations of some of the volumes. Is it possible that you might list some of your non-recommendations, in which the so-called "scholarship" is seriously flawed?
Robert Stroud
The New Scriptorium
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#52
Identifying Asian nomads is difficult because most of the groups were a mix of ethnic peoples, who lived on the vast steppe regions of Europe and Asia. Bear in mind that there still is a lot of controversy concerning the origins of these peoples. Much of this stems from the mixing of distinct ethnic groups and languages. There are three in the first category (Aryan, Mongolian and Chinese) and two in the second (Altaic and Uralic). Several modern countries share common ancestors, although they are separated by thousands of miles and do not always agree on a common origin.

The word "Hun" comes from the word "kun" (or khun) in Turkish meaning people or nation. The first historical mention of the Khuns was in 318 BC.
These possibly included Huns, Khuni, Chuni, Suni, Sunni, Hunny, Gunny, Uygurs, [Uange, Bugu/Pugu, Bayegu/Baiyrku, Tunlo/Tongra, Sygye (Uygur tribes)], Seyanto (Sir + Yanto), Kibi, Tele/Dubo/Tubalar/Dabo, Guligan/Kurykan (Yakuts), Dolange (Telengits), Husye, Higye, Adye/Eduz, Baysi/Barsil, and other variations.

Most likely the Huns were a genetic hybrid between Mongoloid, Altaic (Siberian), and Central Asian Turkic stocks. Typical Hunno-Bulgars probably had a squarish face, high cheekbones, and slanting eyes. The word 'Bulgar' comes from Turkic 'bulgha' (to mix). These nomadic groups were probably composed of Alans, Eastern Antes (an Iranian-Slavic blend), and Turks. There were, according to contemporary European sources, three major sub-divisions each corresponding to a different ethnic group. This may help to explain the later division of the Huns after Attila’s death.

Although in the past the Huns are thought to have been Mongolian emigrants, it is far more likely that they were of Turkic origin. This point has been repeated by thousands of historians, Sinologists, Turcologists, and other researchers. Most of our modern knowledge on the Huns is derived from the information left by their contemporary neighbors. This makes it difficult to separate fact from fiction, which is true for most of the groups listed here.

Many now accept that the Bulgars are the descendants of the Huns. The legendary ancestor of the Bulgars is Kobrat Han, who was the son of Irnek. Irnek was the son or grandson of Attila. So the Bulgars are directly descended from the Huns. Their writings were a different version of the Turkish-Runic writing used in Mongolia. Two major hordes survived the fall of Attila’s empire; the Kutrigurs and the Uturgus or Utrigurs. This is based on the division of the Hunnic peoples among the sons of Attila following his death in 453 AD. To Ellak, eldest of brothers, was given a horde called Sabirs, to Tengiz (Dengizik), was given a horde called Kutrigurs and to Bel-Kermek (Hernach), youngest, was given a horde called Utrigurs.

The Byzantine writers said that the language of the Huns was the same as the languages of the Bulgars, Avars, Szeklers and other tribes that were flooding into Eastern Europe from Central Asia. The historians of that period accepted that these Turkic-speaking tribes were no different from the Huns because their languages were the same. There are many words written in Chinese chronicles, which were used by Huns in daily life. These are Turkic words. Chinese annals reveal that the Hunnic language was very close to that of the Toles, a Turkic tribe.

One area for backing up this claim is that of Hunnic names. The meanings of the names of European Huns can be comfortably explained in Turkish. One of the most striking features related to European Hunnic names cannot be explained any language but Turkish. Some of the names belonged to the German language due to cultural interaction, but the majority of them were Turkish, for example:

(a famous Hunnic leader) Balamir = Bala (child, kid) + Mir (king)
(the son of Attila) Dengizik = sea storm
(a general) Oniki, known to Europeans as Onegesios, = the number 12
(the son of Attila) Csaba = shepherd
(a Hunnic leader) Atakam = Ata (grandfather, father) +Kam = the person who is responsible for the religious rituals (in shamanism)
Eskam = Es = couple + Kam = (as above)
Aybars = Ay = moon (and also the colour white in Turkish) + Bars (or Pars) = leopard, or a wild animal
The name of Attila's wife was Arikan in Turkish.

The Sabirs briefly established a powerful state north of the Caucasus. The name may have been used as early as 124 BC. Hence they may have been Sarmatian or Scythian in origin. They were closely associated with two other Turkish-speaking groups, the Sarogurs and the Onogurs.
The Huns dominated many vassal groups of Germans and Aryans during their period of domination in the early 5th Century. German dialects, probably Gothic, were considered the common language for the peoples of the Hunnic empire. The Huns may have adopted Gothic clothing and other cultural aspects, which make identification of graves and artefacts difficult.

Several other groups shared similar names and ethnicity.

Hephthalites
They were also called Ephthalites or Hephtal or Hunas or White Huns or Hayathelites or Ye-tai or He-ta or Cao. According to Chinese records, this group of people was called "Ye-tai". They were called Hephthalites by the Greeks, and Hunas by the Indians, and later known in the West as the Avars. The Turkish claim that their ancestors comprised of Huns plus the White Huns. White Hephthalites are a people of "obscure origins", possibly of Tibetan or Turkish stock. Late 6th Century, the Hephthalites were said to have moved west to the Russian steppe to form the Avar Khanate.
They were first mentioned by the Chinese, who described them (125 AD) as living in Dzungaria. Their name is derived from that of the royal clan, ephtha or ye-da. In the 4th Century, they were vassals of the Ruruan. In 425 AD, they crossed the Syr Darya (Jaxartes) River and invaded Persia. The White Huns also invaded India and succeeded in extending their domain to include the Ganges valley.

The paucity of record in Hephthalites provides only a fragmentary picture of their civilization and empire. Their background is uncertain. They probably stemmed from a combination of the Tarim Basin peoples and the Yueh-chih.

To the Chinese, they were the Ye-tai-i-li-do even though the Chinese chroniclers seem to realize that the people called themselves the people of Hua (the similarity to Hun may help explain the origin of "White Hun") and that the Chinese terms came actually from the name of the Hua leader. Contemporary Chinese chroniclers had their own theories about Ephthalite origins: they were related in some way to the Visha (Indo-Europeans known to the Chinese as the "Yueh Chih"); a branch of the Kao-ch`ê; and other groups.

The timing of the Hun migration to Europe in 370 AD and the White Hun in 440 AD to Transoxiana, Bactria, Khurasan, and eastern Persia is pretty close; however, the directions of movement are not the same. There is no definite evidence that they are related to the Huns.

Chionites/Kidarites
From the Middle Persian word xiyon, 'Hun', a Hunnic tribe that began encroaching upon the frontiers of Iran and the Kushan state circa 320 AD. A distinct people from the Hephthalites, the Chionites were also called 'Red' Huns. Shortly after 340 AD, the Chionites pushed the Kushans out of northern Pakistan. At the end of the 4th Century, a new wave of Hunnic tribes (Alchoni) invaded Bactria, pushing the Kidarites into Gandhara. The Kidarites in northern India continued to mint debased gold and copper coins until the end of the 5th Century. Yet another group, close on the heels of the Alchoni, settled in and around Kabul and Ghazni, as the Nezak Huns.

The dubious connection to the Sumerians is likely a result of confusion with the various names given to nomads. The most likely candidate for ancestral ties is the Cimmerian group (Turkish Kam-er, Kim-er - "river man", akin to "Suv-ar", "Bulak-ar" ("Bolkar, Bulgar"), "Sub-ar", "Suv-ar", "Shum-er") one of the first nomdic peoples of the steppes of western Central Asia. The Assyrians called Cimmerians “Gimirraiâ€
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#53
Thanks. Very informative.
Kind regards
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#54
Quote:(a famous Hunnic leader) Balamir = Bala (child, kid) + Mir (king)
(the son of Attila) Dengizik = sea storm
(a general) Oniki, known to Europeans as Onegesios, = the number 12
(the son of Attila) Csaba = shepherd
(a Hunnic leader) Atakam = Ata (grandfather, father) +Kam = the person who is responsible for the religious rituals (in shamanism)
Eskam = Es = couple + Kam = (as above)
Aybars = Ay = moon (and also the colour white in Turkish) + Bars (or Pars) = leopard, or a wild animal
The name of Attila's wife was Arikan in Turkish.

Very interesting, thanks. :wink:
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Valerius/Jorge
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#55
Avete,

Quote:Heather counters Thompson's view that the Huns were actually fairly ineffective and incidental to the end of the Empire and shows that Attila had a strong grasp of strategy, was an excellent diplomat and made the Huns into a formidable military power, particularly by mastering siege tactics.

How was Attila able to lay siege to fortified Roman cities ? Before Attila no barbarian race ever developed or used siege engines.

Are there any theories ?

I think one way he was able to build engines was through coercion of captured Roman soldiers who either had the knowledge and / or skills.

Is this the accepted view or are there other theories ?

~Theo
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#56
try volunteers from Roman lands? There were apparently enough Romans willing to work for other lords, especially deserters or those forced out because of crimes or tax pressure. And if there were enough germanic volunteers to fight for the Romans, there should have been some willing to go the other way..

Mostly though I'd say Attila would starve cities, not besiege them.
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
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#57
I agree on many points. There are many sources linking the Huns with the Hsiung-Nu, but I haven't seen any where it was more than idle speculation and with no evidence supporting this. The theory itself was not very good either. Basically the Hsiung-Nu are a Hun-like culture from China that disappeared. It would not surprise me if some Hsiung-Nu blood is circulated throughout the steppes, but the theory is not sound. The steppes were populated long before the disappearance of the Hsiung-Nu. The Huns were a coalition of sorts between various tribes of the Eastern steppes. The bloodlines of those peoples are a blend to various degrees of Asian and various other cultures. One late emerging source makes no sense. If one went by the theory that the Hsiung-Nu merged with other steppes peoples that is more plausible, but to solely place the origin of the Huns with the Hsiung-Nu is foolish merely based on the fact that the Hsiung-Nu had similarities with other steppes peoples of the time. I seriously wonder whether politics are involved in this as well. The Chinese government has tried to linked themselves with the Mongols in recent years (not necessarily for benevolent reasons) and making a connection with the Huns which the Mongols claim descent gives them that link.
Derek D. Estabrook
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#58
Quote:try volunteers from Roman lands? There were apparently enough Romans willing to work for other lords, especially deserters or those forced out because of crimes or tax pressure. And if there were enough germanic volunteers to fight for the Romans, there should have been some willing to go the other way..

Roman traitors and Germanic foederati switching to the enemy ? I've never read about the latter picking up Roman skills and technological knowhow. Foederati, I thought, were just grunts of dubious quality. As for Roman traitors, what rewards could they expect from a barbarian chieftain besides protection and money ? They'd have to live among barbarians for the rest of their lives abandoning the creature comforts of a Roman lifestyle.

Quote:Mostly though I'd say Attila would starve cities, not besiege them.

That's amazing if true. So many large cities were razed to the ground by him in Gaul and Italy. The Goths after Adrianople could never starve out Roman cities in the Balkins during Theodosius' entire reign. Was Attila simply more determined in his sieges ?

~Theo
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#59
Its a different case. While the Goths were very skilled warriors and had learned an incredible amount of tactics, etc. from the Romans to supplement the skills they already had, siegecraft was difficult for the system of warfare that the had. Regular battles were no problem and complex tactics could be applied, but in long sieges some of the weaknesses of the Germanic system of warfare came into play. It isn't so blatant and as exploitable as some of the similar flaws in some Celtic groups, but long sieges were not beneficial to Germanic armies. For the most part they were very good at getting together in groups, but they needed a constant, common goal and with the pride and natures of the people it is not good to be stagnant for too long. Problems arise quick, people get impatient for battle and conflicts can erupt between your own troops and groups of them. Not to mention many other factors that would take too long to really get into in this post. Suffice to say, that while most Germanic peoples were capable of siegecraft it was risky and could even result in loss of power for the leader. As a leader, with the peoples natures and dispositions it is much better to let the enemy stay in the fortresses and go raid the countryside. It worked well for the Danes later. They would isolate groups, raid, spread fear and most of their enemies were not unified enough to band together despite the danger and they could engage their enemies at will. The problem with this system is that in the long run generations go by and it only lasts if the occupying nation does not revolt in strength. Once settled your army/settlers will develop flaws that did not exist as the raiding warband conquering force.

The Huns were a little more like the later day Mongols. They showed a remarkable simple honesty to warfare. Often they levied the option of surrender without harm, but once the battle began all mercy was off. It is warfare after all and perhaps a lot of European races were a little too used to convenient diplomacy and negotiating and setting terms later on. Not really a Hun mentality. From their point of view, they offered cooperation and the ability to become an ally. It was spit on and you became their enemy. There is no negotiating with the enemy, for the enemy there is only death and destruction. For a race that people often look down on as barbaric they were very intelligent and adaptable in the ways of warfare with a lot of the same pride as the Germanics but a lot more flexibility and malleability in their manner of thinking. The goal was victory and if siegecraft was required to do so they would do it and if new skills are needed they would learn them. It was hardly the mass of bloodmad barbarians that swarm over the enemy like ants that we imagine. It was an often outnumbered force of hard men led by people using excellent military strategies both elegant in simplicy and capable of integrating complex strategies and skills that even made the Romans seem stiff and inflexible in comparison. The weakness of the Huns was lack of numbers to hold a conquered territory and in short the very natures of the people does not lend itself well to times of peace. While they were very capable at applying the same types of intelligence to other non-military matters, the softer form of life did not appeal to them.
Derek D. Estabrook
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#60
Who those the Huns?


The Huns have language, lion language identical.On the language of the folk living in Little Asia the lion: m a g h a r. /Magyar/ Hungaria_Magyarország.
:lol:

Compared to his size, unbelievable strong bows are at they disposal. Great distances are able to be done on horseback, they sleep in the saddle.All of the manners of the preservation of the meat are known. Meat dust is brought and from it a soup is cooked. Under their dresses wool a underwear is carried.To fight in little units organized very well in teams being top . Most military ranks are because of this on Hungary today in Europe.
Vallus István Big Grin <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_biggrin.gif" alt="Big Grin" title="Very Happy" />Big Grin

A sagittis Hungarorum, libera nos Domine
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