- Dec 2009
Apparently in the second-century BC the Han Chinese under Wudi learned that the best time to attack the Xiongnu was in the spring, since their animals were weak from winter grazing. Yet when the Magyars arrive in Europe, we find them attacking during the spring - a number of the early raids into Italy took place in March, and three of the four attacks on Byzantium can be dated to April. If we assume that the strength of the nomads was on account of their animals, what explains the difference? Can the ecology of differing dates of spring or types of grass explain the difference? Does it matter that the Magyars were raiding on horseback and presumably leaving most of their pastoral animals behind, whereas the Han were attacking the economic base of the Xiongnu by targeting just those animals? Are European winters mild enough that a small and swift force can campaign in the spring? Does this pattern get repeated amongst other steppe groups in other times and places?