Attila the Hun vs Genghis Khan

Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan are two known historical figures who controlled empires with a strong military. The former ruled the Hun Empire from 434-453, while the latter led the Mongol Empire from 1206-1227. Being in different periods, the two militaristic and imperialistic leaders left various legacies in history. Likewise, both entail similarities and differences.


Attila and Genghis Khan’s rise in their respective empires differ. The former gained control through succession after his father, ruler of the Hunnic Empire, passed away, while the latter created and founded the largest contiguous empire in history after his death.

In terms of battle style, the Hunnic ruler utilized soldiers on horseback and quick and brutal attacks on towns and their inhabitants. From these attacks that were usually raiding cities, he gathered as many prisoners and loot, as well as tributes for no further attacks. Meanwhile, the Mongol ruler used spies and looked for weaknesses in their enemies. Likewise, he preferred to conquer and not merely raid cities.

As for total territories conquered, the Mongolian leader ruled more land from China, Central Asia, the Middle East, and some parts of Europe. It led to the Mongol Empire being the largest contiguous empire in history. Meanwhile, the Hunnic leader conquered or ravaged different parts of the Balkan region, Greece, Italy, and other parts of the Eastern Roman Empire.

Genghis Khan differed from Attila in that he utilized a court historian. Meanwhile, accounts for the Hunnic king came mostly from Roman sources. 

Different theories of the cause of Attila’s passing include nosebleed, excessive drinking, or assassination by his wife. With Genghis Khan, there are notions of being killed in action or death by illness or wounds from hunting.


One of the apparent similarities between the two is their leadership and the origin of nomadic peoples. The Mongols had a nomadic life as well as the Huns. Hence, the culture and practices entailed that the subjects of Attila and Genghis Khan involved traveling to different places. However, the establishment and growth of the empires entailed a level of permanency for the leaders to a certain extent.

In terms of the military, one parallel between the two was the use of mounted soldiers. Likewise, they were experts in military strategy and archery. These strengths of their armies led to the commonalities in conquering different lands. In turn, they brought fear towards their enemies, if not many kingdoms or cultures.

The wrath on family is another pattern between the two. At the least, each murdered their brothers, although Genghis Khan killed his half-brother while Attila killed his blood brother. Still, these are cases of murder against their siblings.

The tombs of these historical figures are unknown, showing another similarity while their deaths were shrouded in mystery.