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The Avars were a confederation of heterogeneous (diverse or varied) people consisting of Rouran, Hephthalites, and Turkic-Oghuric races who migrated to the region of the Pontic Grass Steppe (an area corresponding to modern-day Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan) from Central Asia after the fall of the Asiatic Rouran Empire in 552 CE. They are considered by many historians to be the successors of the Huns in their way of life and, especially, mounted warfare. They settled in the Huns' former territory and almost instantly set upon a course of conquest. After they were hired by the Byzantine Empire to subdue other tribes, their king Bayan I (reigned 562/565-602 CE) allied with the Lombards under Alboin (reigned 560-572 CE) to defeat the Gepids of Pannonia and then took over the region, forcing the Lombards to migrate to Italy.

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