Collapse of the Hunnic Empire: Jordanes, Ardaric and the Battle of Nedao
By Bernardo Mingarelli
MA Thesis, University of Ottawa, 2018
Abstract: This thesis examines the evidence surrounding the Battle of Nedao, an engagement between Ardaric, leader of the Gepids and other rebelling tribes, and Ellac, the eldest son of Attila. It argues against the claim that, after Attila’s death, it was the sons of Attila who ruined the Hunnic empire through civil war.
Instead, the political crisis which inevitably led to the battle was brought about by Attila’s murdering of his brother and co-king, Bleda, in 445 and his intestate death in 453. If there was civil war between Attila’s sons, it did not occur until after Nedao. Furthermore, Ardaric was not of Royal Hunnic status fighting for succession at Nedao. He was, instead, one of the leaders of a rebellion that was not limited to Germanic tribes.
The thesis focuses primarily on one source, Jordanes, since his Getica is the only known account of the battle which is not mentioned by any other contemporary source. The paper analyzes both Jordanes as an author and the language in his Getica, finding him not to be the semiliterate copyist of Cassiodorus, but instead underlines his own agency in the organizing of the work.
From this broader understanding of Jordanes and Getica, it furthermore determines that he may, in fact, harbor an anti-Gepid sentiment towards the Gepid kingdom of his own day in the sixth century. Jordanes may, therefore, be anachronistically ascribing strength and importance to the Gepids’ role at Nedao, as Gepid-Constantinopolitan tension reached its zenith at the time he composed his work, thereby critically affecting our interpretation of the Battle of Nedao narrative.