The History of
the Hunno-Bulgars - Up to 480 AD
In those days the people had come to lead short and violent lives. Blood, feud, and warefare soaked themselves into the Earth layer by layer, until one day was forgetten by the next. Life was in it's most distilled form, that of mere survival. It was rumored amongst the nations of men, that from the steppes a new army had come, that of the Huns. They were said to have been born from the unnatural union between vile depraved sorceresses and evil spirits of the desert, or so the Goths had made-up in their stories after being beaten by them in 370 AD.
The Huns came with horse, bow, and spear conquering as they went, as they must, for they were desperate warriors. They came because other fierce tribes far to the east had defeated them in turn. One by one the nations of men were either 'put under foot', subjugated, or were taxed as the wave of the Huns swept into Southeastern Europe. Upon the crest of this wave was the name of Sublime Khan, Attila. Like his forefathers before him, he preferred to live in a ger, not a palace. He wore n either gold nor silver, but instead adorned himself in the traditions of his people, with clothing consisting of caftan, trousers, and leather boots on his feet. Tattoos covered his skin of totem animal spirits he held sacred in his heart. He ate boiled m ean and drank fermented mare's milk. Most of all, he came to be loved by his people through his successes and failures, as a true leader being an administrator or a general. In time though, he came to be the father of three sons whose names were Ellak, Dengizik, and Ernak.
From these sons would come a lineage of Khans that led a people known as the Hunno-Bulgars, sometimes called Ancient Bulgars, or even Turkic Bulgars by various historians were the resultant mix between the Huns, the Bulgars, and other nomadic horsemen groups. The term ''Bulgar'' literally comes from the Ancient Turkic word bulgha which means to mix, however this can mislead since a large part of the language is actually Ancient Iranian in origin. Anyway, these other nomadic horsemen grou ps were mainly composed of the As, also known as the Ossetians, the Eastern Antes which were an Iranian-Slavic blend, and a people known as the Sarmatians, an Iranian group (Alans). The Huns were themselves a genetic hybrid between Mongoloid, Altaic (Sibe rian), and Central Asian stocks, while the Bulgars (before 500 AD) were a mix of Sarmatians, Altaic, and Oguri Turkic peoples. So one can imagine that the Hunno-Bulgars were a population of diverse background whereby the typical Bulgar (after 500 AD) prob ably had a squarish type of face with high cheekbones, slanting eyes, and a tall muscular skeletal frame (averaging 5''10" for men evidenced by burial sites). Their faces were likely weathered with tanned skin and wrinkles appearing at a lower age than mos t around the eyes and mouth. Their heads were shaved occasionally and sometimes not (depending on their status and rank). Others would wear their black hair in pigtails, as was the traditional fashion to keep it out of the wind and weather.
So in any case, the genesis of the Hunno-Bulgars began with Attila''s three sons. At his death in 453 AD, each son took upon himself a portion of Attila's forces which was in this situation a Hunnish horde. Each Hunnish horde or ulus wa s divided into several tribes, which were in turn divided into respective families or houses. Later on the Hunno-Bulgars (Bulgars after 500 AD) were to call their hordes ogus with this being synonymous with the Bulgar dative case oguri which means 'tribes of'. To Ellak, the eldest of the brothers was given the horde that would later on be called the Sabiri. To Dengizik was given a horde that would later on be called the Kutriguri, and to Ernak was given a horde that would later on be called the Utiguri. Unfortunately though for all of these brothers, the Hunnish age of relative power and prosperity was about to end.
With Sublime Khan Attila's death, the brothers began to fight their eldest brother, Ellak, for control of the Huns. Sublime Khan Ellak with his horde defeated both of his brothers, Dengizik and Ernak, which were then forced to retreat to U gol or Bessarabia. Then the various subjugated peoples underneath the Huns who were catching wind of the situation decided to revolt against Sublime Khan Ellak. This was particularly done amongst the Germanic peoples through King Ardaric who soon form ed a coalition against the fragmented Huns. The primary partners of the coalition were the Heruls, the Gepids, and the Rugii. Unusually enough the Ostrogoths decided not to help in the war against their Hunnish overlords. Ellak with his people at once took to the field to defend what was theirs, but they were hurt from the battle fought against Dengizik and Ernak's hordes. After a series of bloody engagements, a final battle was fought in 455 AD along the Nedeo River which ended the war in the Pannonian S teppes. Through this one battle, Sublime Khan Ellak was killed, his people were driven from the field, and the prestiege of the Huns was lowered like a black cloud over the sun. On the other hand, the victory of the Germans was complete. They had not only gained their independence, which was their original objective, but they had also caused other nations to be free (one of which was the Bulgar nation). The Bulgars were divided into two groups, the larger of which went back to the old abodes north of the Caucasus, while the smaller went to Bessarabia (with Ernak's people).
The Huns who would later form into the Kutriguri and Utiguri were led by their respective leaders to Bessarabia while Ellak's people retreated even farther to the east, through the Pontic Steppes, to a place called Daghestan. Several tribes outside of the three mentioned Hunnish hordes, went so far as to join with the Byzantines which now bordered Dengizik's and Ernak's holdings to the south. These factions of Huns in exchange for their military services were given land in which to set tle as protectors of it against their northern cousins.
In the following years, ca. 460-465 AD, the region of the eastern Danubian Plain (Bessarabia, Dacia, and Dobrudja) was fairly volatile in respect to the Huns, the Bulgars, and neighboring nomadic tribes. After moving into Bessarabia, t he hordes of Dengizik and Ernak quickly filtered into neighboring Dacia, all the while kicking out several smaller Antic tribes as well as one Alanic tribe. Needless to say, even though the Antes and the Alans were at one time subjugated tribes of the Hun s, they did not appreciate their forced migration. As this was the case, their move took them southward across the River Danube and into the lands of Dobrudja. Through this action, it became quite clear that the Antes and the Alans had thrown in their loy alties with the Byzantines since Dobrudja was a Byzantine borderland. With Hunnish expansion, stress continued to grow between the North and the South. Therefore in 466-467 AD, after the inducement of the Antic and Alanic tribes, the Byzantines decided to finally act by carrying out a trade embargo against Hunnish merchants. Both Dengizik Khan and Ernak Khan protested this action and so immediately they asked the Greeks for a lifting of the embargo. When the Byzantines did not end the embargo, Dengizik Khan at once made preparations for war.
Ernak however wanted to resolve the differences between the Huns and the Byzantines through a peaceful resolution and so did not support his older brother's wish for war. Dengizik argumentative with his younger brother would not be thwarted in his plans to invade Thrace (unless the Byzantines were to somehow make reparations for the loss to the Hunnish economy by giving them gold). So it was in the Winter of 467 AD, Dengizik's ulus crossed the River Danube and demanded of the Byzantines payme nt in gold for their subsequent return. This was refused which caused the region to erupt into violence beginning in 468 AD. The Byzantine General, Anagast (Anagestes), immediately was put to the task of bringing down Hunnish attacks by Emperor Leo I, while General Aspar was put in charge of the bureaucratic and political aspects of the Thracian theatre.
The Danubian War lasted from 468 to 469 AD and consisted of two major battles. During the first battle, Anagast administered such a crushing defeat to the people who would later become the Kutriguri, that even Dengizik Khan was killed. Anagas t after managing to procure the Khan's head then sent this to Constantinople where it was displayed in the streets atop of a spear. In a second battle, the Huns fought to avenge the late Khan with renewed effort towards that goal and succeeded at causing great numbers of casualties to the Byzantines. They however were forced to turn back after they themselves took enough attrition.
After the end of the war, the nation that became the Kutriguri was never to forget the lack of help that Ernak gave. Kutrigur was to hate Utigur, as Utigur was to hate Kutrigur. Thus the breakdown of Hunnish unity furthered itself and was not able to heal itself for the next 150 years. All of the Hunnish hordes did decide on one thing in the meantime, and that was to retreat eastward through the Pontic Steppes as the ulus of Ellak's had done after the Battle of the Nedeo River (in 455 AD). For Ernak Khan's people, the displacement took a while longer since his immediate efforts were spent on becoming Byzantine federates after his older brother's death. In time though, after Ernak's death, his people followed this path coming to a place southeast of the Sea of Azov in an area called the Azov-Taman region. The people, who became the Kutriguri on the other hand, decided to live within a region between the Dniepr and Don Rivers. Note that this region was northwest across the Sea of Azov in respect to the Utiguri. Daghestan, the home of the Sabiri, was southeast comparative to the other two Hunnish hordes along the shores of the Caspian Sea between a place called the Daryal Gorge and the Kuma River.
So, the time of war was over for the moment as far as the Huns were concerned. They needed to rest and to lick their wounds. It was a time of recuperation; a time to gain in numbers so their presence could be felt again. It was at this area o f time, that is from the 460s to the 480s onward, that the Huns began to intermarry with more vigor, other nomadic horsemen nations that lived in the the northern Balkans through the Pontic Steppes and into the lands of the north Caucasus. The youth of Attila's people were to mix with the Bulgars and the Sarmatians giving rise to a new breed of culture and identity, thus beginning the emergence of the Hunno-Bulgars.