The Little Horn of Daniel 7 grows into the Beast of Revelation.

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE

Antichristus, a woodcut by Lucas Cranach the Elder of the pope using the temporal power to grant authority to a generously contributing ruler

The 11th horn of Daniel 7 comes out of the Roman Empire. It was “little” when it came up (7:8) but it grew and became “larger in appearance than its associates” (7:20). That means that it will dominate the other horns that came up from the Roman Empire. Daniel 8 also indicates that the little horn started “small” but “grew exceedingly great” (8:9). That little horn becomes the Antichrist (7:25). It will become so important that a court will sit in heaven to judge between it and God’s people (7:22, 26). This horn is the Beast of the Book of Revelation:

The whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; …  they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?’” (Rev. 13:3-4)

To identify the Beast of Revelation, we must identify the little horn of Daniel 7. The current article is one of a series on the history of the Church. These articles identify the 11th little horn as the formal Christian Church as it existed during the Middle Ages.  The specific purpose of the current article is to explain how and when the Church became “larger in appearance” than the other 10 horns. Other articles address the other identifying marks of this little horn, as found in Daniel 7. 

SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE

OVERVIEW

There always was a power struggle between the Church and the kings over ultimate authority, for the Church and the State demand the loyalty of the same people.

After Christianity was legalized in 313, the Roman emperors believed that they had the right and duty of regulating by law the worship and doctrines of the Church. After the Islamic conquests weakened the remainder of the Roman Empire, the Church was subordinate to the rulers of the Carolingian Franks (in the 9th century) and the Ottonian dynasty (in the 10th century).  

In the eleventh century, for the first time in its existence, the church was able to resist the dominance of the kings. In this and subsequent centuries, known as the High Middle Ages, the popes not only claimed independence from the state but also authority over the state. During these centuries, the Church rose to become the dominant power in the West. This was when the church became “larger in appearance than its associates.”

HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE

During the period known as the Byzantine Papacy, the Papacy was subject to the demands of the Eastern Roman Emperor. In the 8th century, due to Muslim conquests, much of the Christian world suddenly was under Muslim rule. Consequently, Byzantine authority all but vanished in Italy, making an end to the Byzantine Papacy. 

This drove the Papacy to find a new protector.  After a period of volatility, the popes linked their fate to the Carolingian dynasty.  This was a large Frankish-dominated empire in western and central Europe during the Early Middle Ages (800–888), also called the Holy Roman Empire. This was the first time, after the fall of Rome, that most of western Europe were ruled by a single monarch. The Carolingians followed in the footsteps of their Roman predecessors by asserting “immense authority over the Western church” (Britannica).

In the 10th century, the Ottonian dynasty in Germany established a new imperial line and became the preeminent power in Latin Europe. The Ottos, similar to the previous empires, appointed bishops on royal nomination and forbidden appeals to Rome. (Britannica)

WHAT ALLOWED THE CHURCH TO BECOME ‘LARGER’

After the fall of Rome, the church in Rome actually grew stronger:

    • While there was no single government that united all people, the Church had a strong, centralized organization.
    • Secular governments came and went through chaos and warfare, but the Papacy remained. 
    • The Church gave people a sense of communal identity. 

Other factors that, in later years, allowed the Church to become “larger” than the kings of Europe include the following:

Ordinary people had to ‘tithe’ 10 percent of their earnings to the Church. This allowed the Church to amass great wealth.

The Church taught that escape from eternal hell was only possible through the sacraments of the church.  If a king disobeyed the pope, the pope could refuse to perform certain sacraments in the king’s lands, scaring the king’s subject and causing civil unrest.

Christian monasteries became storehouses of knowledge, education, crafts, artistic skills, and agriculture. 

In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Catholic Church authorized military expeditions called Crusades to expel Muslim “infidels” from the Holy Land and to return it to Christian control. The crusades greatly enhanced papal prestige.  They gave the people a common purpose, and they inspired waves of religious enthusiasm among people.

THE CHURCH’S STRUGGLE FOR POWER 

The Cluniac reform, which began in the year 910, placed monasteries under the direct control of the pope rather than under the secular control of feudal lords.

The College of Cardinals, organized in 1059, vested with the right to name new popes in this institute and restricted interference from political rulers. 

The Church attempted to control most marriages among the great by prohibited marriages involving blood kin and kin by marriage to the seventh degree of relationship. Under these rules, almost all great marriages required a dispensation.

The European monarchs traditionally controlled appointments to the higher church offices within their lands. These are called lay investitures. Beginning in the mid-11th century, the popes challenged this authority. This is known as the Investiture Controversy. Church and State reached a compromise in 1122 in the Concordat of Worms.

AUTHORITY OVER THE STATE

The Church was not satisfied to have authority over itself.  It reasoned that the pope has full power over the whole church and that that makes it the ultimate ruler of the kingdoms within Christendom. From a catholic perspective, emperors and kings, to reign lawfully, had to be in communion with the Pope. Otherwise, the Pope could declare the ruler unfit to reign. 

One famous incident during the Investiture Controversy illustrates how powerful the pope has become. Henry IV, the mightiest king in Europe at the time, had to wait for three days, stripped of his royal robes and clad as a penitent, barefoot in ice and snow, before pope Gregory was willing to withdraw his ex-communication of the king.

WEAR DOWN THE SAINTS OF THE HIGHEST ONE (Den. 7:25)

The authority of the Pope also resulted in the massacre of Christians:

Innocent III (1198–1216) called the Albigensian Crusade, which resulted in the massacre of Christians.

The Inquisition is infamous for the severity of its tortures. The Spanish Inquisition alone resulting in some 32,000 executions. (History.com)

– END OF SUMMARY – 

HISTORICAL OVERVIEW

There always was a power struggle between the Church and the kings of the world over ultimate authority (Springfield Public School), for the Church and the State demand the loyalty of the same people.

In ancient times, in most civilizations, there was no distinction between religion and state. People worshiped the gods of the particular state in which they lived. (Britannica

After Christianity was legalized in 313, the Roman emperors dominated the Church: Emperor Constantine controlled the Council of Nicaea, emperors Constantius and Valens exiled Nicene bishops to the other ends of the empire and emperor Theodosius unilaterally declared Arianism illegal.  The emperors believed that they had the right and duty to regulate the worship and doctrines of the Church.

After emperor Justinian destroyed the major Arian nations in the sixth century, the Church was subject to the Eastern (Byzantine) Roman emperors for two centuries. After the Islamic conquests weakened the Byzantine Empire. the Church sought the protection of the Carolingian Franks, but the Franks also dominated the church in the 9th century. After the Frankish empire was weakened, the Ottonian dynasty dominated the Church in the 10th century.  

During the eleventh century, for the first time in its existence, the church was able to resist the dominance of the temporal rulers over it. As is discussed below, the popes not only sought independence from the state but eventually claimed authority over the state.

HIGH MIDDLE AGES

The term “Middle Ages” describes Europe between the fall of Rome in the 5th century and the Renaissance in the 15th and 16th centuries.  The High Middle Ages was the period of European history that commenced around 1000 and continued for some centuries.  During these centuries, the Church rose to become the dominant power in the West (Wikipedia). This was when the church became “larger in appearance than its associates.”

The remainder of the article discusses the developments more or less in chronological sequence, beginning where the previous article ended, namely the Byzantine Papacy.

ISLAM WEAKENED THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE.

The Early Muslim conquests of the 7th century began to expand the sway of Islam beyond Arabia. Their first clash with the Roman Empire was in 634. This was followed by decades of war between Islam and the Roman Empire.

In the 8th century, the Byzantine Empire lost its richest provinces—Egypt and Syria—to the Arab caliphate.  Suddenly, much of the Christian world was under Muslim rule. Over the subsequent centuries, the Muslim states became some of the most powerful states in the Mediterranean world. 

CONSEQUENCES

Byzantine authority all but vanished in Italy.  Pope Zachary, in 741, was the last pope to seek the emperor’s approval for his election. By 751, Rome ceased to be part of the Byzantine Empire.  This was the end of the Byzantine Papacy

Muslim conquests of the territories of the patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem left in effect only two patriarchates, namely those of Rome and Constantinople.

With the dominance of Islam in the east, the power base of the Catholic Church shifted from Constantinople to Rome.  The Bishop of Rome became the Pope and the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church. 

Though the Roman church claimed religious authority over Christians everywhere, it was unable to stamp out ‘heresy’ among the vast numbers of Christians in Muslim lands for the new Muslim rulers tolerated all Christian sects. 

Additionally, subjects of the Muslim Empire could become Muslims simply by declaring a belief in a single deity and reverence for Muhammad. As a result, the peoples of Egypt, Palestine, and Syria largely accepted their new rulers and many declared themselves Muslims within a few generations.

COMMENT

In the sixth century, Justinian was willing to negotiate a truce with the nations that later became Muslim but viciously attacked his fellow (Arian) Christian nations is the west.  If he did not do that, the Muslims probably would not have been able to defeat the Eastern (Byzantine) Empire.

CAROLINGIAN DYNASTY

After the demise of effective Byzantine protection of Italy in the 8th century, the Lombards again emerged as a threat to the Papacy.  This drove the Papacy to find a new protector.  For this purpose, it appealed to other Germanic rulers for protection.

After a period of volatility, the popes gained a powerful protector by linking the fate of the Papacy to the Carolingian dynasty.  This was a large Frankish-dominated empire in western and central Europe during the Early Middle Ages (800–888 – Wikipedia).  

The Frankish-papal alliance was reinforced when Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as Patricius Romanorum (Holy Roman Emperor) on Christmas Day, 800. This laid the foundation for the Holy Roman Empire, which was to last until 1806.

Charlemagne (Charles the Great) was King of the Franks from 768, then also King of the Lombards from 774, and then Holy Roman Emperor from 800. He was the first recognized emperor to rule western Europe since the fall of the Western Roman Empire three centuries earlier. The expanded Frankish state that Charlemagne founded is called the Carolingian Empire (Wikipedia).

The popes gained security from the relationship with the Carolingian dynasty, but the Carolingians followed in the footsteps of their Byzantine and Roman predecessors by asserting “immense authority over the Western church” (Britannica). The Carolingians blended the authority of the church and the state: Charlemagne used both secular and religious people as his representatives and claimed to govern both. On the other hand, the pope exercised influence in Carolingian affairs by maintaining the right to crown emperors and by sometimes directly intervening in political disputes. Church and state were re-united:

The great harlot … with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality” (Rev. 17:1-2).

OTTONIAN (GERMAN) DYNASTY

As Carolingian power waned in the late 9th and the 10th century, the papacy once again found itself threatened by powerful local nobles, seeking to control it.

In the 10th century, the Ottonian dynasty in Germany established a new imperial line and became the preeminent power in Latin Europe.

Otto I was German king (from 936) and Holy Roman Emperor (962–973).  By suppressing rebellious vassals and his decisive victory over the Hungarians, he consolidated the German Reich and revived Charlemagne’s empire in 962. He used the church as a stabilizing influence to ensure a secure empire.  For this reason, he required papal stability and deposed Pope John XII (955–964) for immorality.

The Ottos, accustomed to the tradition in which great landowners built and owned the churches on their estates as private property, treated Rome and all important sees in this spirit. Bishops were appointed on royal nomination and forbidden appeals to Rome. (Britannica)

WHAT ALLOWED THE LITTLE HORN TO BECOME ‘LARGER’

The article on the Fifth Century provides some reasons why the Roman Church, after the Western Roman Empire fell, actually grew stronger, such as:

      • While there was no single government that united all people, the Church had a strong, centralized organization.
      • Secular governments came and went through chaos and warfare, but the Papacy remained. 
      • The Church gave people a sense of communal identity. 

Other factors that, in later years, allowed the Church to become “larger” than the kings of Europe include the following:

TITHING

Ordinary people across Europe had to ‘tithe’ 10 percent of their earnings each year to the Church. This allowed the Church to amass a great deal of money and power.

One indication of the high status of the Church during the Middle Ages is that cathedrals were the largest buildings in medieval Europe.  They could be found at the center of towns and cities across the continent.

SALVATION IS THROUGH THE CHURCH.

In the Middle Ages, people did not have access to information. Consequently, the Church was able to teach that salvation—escape from eternal hell—was only available through the Church, namely through the sacraments and ceremonies which priests and other clergy administered.  The church used this monopoly on salvation to wield power over political rulers:

Popes excommunicated disobedient kings. This meant the king is denied salvation and his vassals are freed from their duties to him.

If an excommunicated king continued to disobey the pope, the popes used an even more frightening weapon; the interdict.  Under an interdict, many sacraments and religious services could not be performed in the king’s lands. As Christians, the king’s subjects believed that, without such sacraments, they are doomed to hell.

MONASTERIES

Christian monasticism is the practice of individuals who live ascetic and typically secluded lives that are dedicated to Christian worship. This became popular in the Middle Ages.  The monastic communities became storehouses of knowledge.  In addition to being centers for spiritual life, they preserved crafts and artistic skills and were centers for agriculture and production. 

Before the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, books were works of art. Craftsmen in monasteries created handmade books with colored illustrations, gold and silver lettering, and other adornments.

Convents were one of the few places where women could receive an education.  Nuns wrote, translated, and illuminated manuscripts as well.

The monasteries elevated the authority of the Roman Catholic (McFarland). Many times, monasteries were the only reason the Bible and records of history survived at all (Bainton, 1964, 129). 

CRUSADES

Toward the end of the 11th century, the Catholic Church began to authorize military expeditions, or Crusades, to expel Muslim “infidels” from the Holy Land and to return it to Christian control. In 1095, Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade when he received an appeal from Byzantine emperor Alexius I to help ward off a Turkish invasion.

Crusaders, who wore red crosses on their coats to advertise their status, believed that their service would guarantee the remission of their sins and ensure them eternal life. They also received worldly rewards, such as papal protection of their property and forgiveness of some kinds of debts.

The crusades were unsuccessful, and brutality committed by the armies of both sides left a legacy of mutual distrust between Muslims and Christians.

The Crusades were a sign of the increased authority of the popes over the political rulers, for the pope called for the crusades. The kings, by (1088–99) participating in the crusades, in a sense, submitted themselves to the authority of the pope. 

The crusades also greatly enhanced papal prestige in the 12th and 13th centuries.  They gave Catholics a common purpose, and they inspired waves of religious enthusiasm among people.

THE POWER STRUGGLE 

EARLY RESISTANCE

The Cluniac reform of monasteries already began in the year 910. This placed abbots under the direct control of the pope rather than under the secular control of feudal lords.

The popes, during this time of increasing dominance, also sought to establish the primacy of Rome over the church worldwide. This worsened tensions between Rome and Constantinople and eventually brought about the Schism of 1054 between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.

One important measure—initiated in 1059—was the organization of the College of Cardinals in which was vested with the right to name new popes. This served to restrict interference from political rulers. 

The Church also attempted to control most marriages among the great. In 1059, the Church prohibited marriages involving consanguinity (blood kin) and affinity (kin by marriage) to the seventh degree of relationship. Under these rules, almost all great marriages required a dispensation.

INVESTITURE CONTROVERSY

Beginning in the mid-11th century the popes challenged the traditional authority of the European monarchs to control appointments to the higher church offices within their territories. This is known as the Investiture Controversy. Investiture means “the action of formally investing a person with honors or rank.”

POPE GREGORY VII AND KING HENRY IV

One famous incident illustrates how powerful the pope has become:

In 1075, Pope Gregory VII, with the Dictatus Papae (1075), claimed the pope as the highest authority in the church and banned lay investiture. 

In response, the German emperor—King Henry IV of the Holy Roman Empire, ordered Gregory to step down from the papacy. Gregory then excommunicated the king. Afterward, German bishops and princes sided with the pope. To save his throne, the king tried to win the pope’s forgiveness:

Stripped of his royal robes, and clad as a penitent, Henry had to come barefooted in ice and snow, and request for admission to the presence of the pope. All day he remained at the door of the citadel, fasting and exposed to the wintry weather, but was refused admission. A second and third day he thus humiliated and disciplined himself, and finally, on 28 January, l077, he was received by the pontiff and absolved from censure. (Cath. Ency. VI, 794)

Henry was the mightiest king in Europe at the time. Imagine the head of the mightiest nation today having to ask the pope for forgiveness in this way.  This shows how powerful and arrogant the Church has become.

CONCORDAT OF WORMS

Gregory died in exile, but his ideals eventually prevailed, for royal intervention in church affairs was seriously curtailed. The successors of Gregory and Henry continued to fight over lay investiture until 1122. In that year, representatives of the Church and the emperor met in the German city of Worms. They reached a compromise known as the Concordat of Worms. By its terms, the Emperor renounced the right to invest ecclesiastics with ring and crosier, the symbols of their spiritual power, and agreed that the Church would appoint their own officials, but that the emperor could veto the appointment of the bishops. This was a victory for the pope, but the emperor did retain considerable power over the Church.

While on the surface it was over a matter of official procedures regarding the appointments of offices, underneath was a power struggle for control over who held ultimate authority, the King or the Pope.

AUTHORITY OVER THE STATE

The Church was not satisfied to have authority over itself.  It reasoned that the pope has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole church and that that makes it the ultimate ruler of the kingdoms within Christendom.  It believed that the Pope, as the Vicar of Christ on earth, should have authority over the state:

Emperors and kings had to … be in communion with the Pope, as essential conditions of their reigning lawfully; if these conditions were broken, of which the Pope was the judge, then … he could … declare their ruler unfit to reign. [Cath Dic, 257]

Pope Leo III’s crowning of Charlemagne as emperor in 800 was a first attempt to establish the tradition that Papal endorsement is required for the crowning of emperors. 

During the High Middle Ages, the Popes claimed the right to depose the kings of Western Europe. They were sometimes successful. For example, Sixtus V (Cath. Ency. I729) excommunicated Protestant Henry III of Navarre and sent an army to unseat him.  Sixtus promised the Spanish King a subsidy for the Armada, with which England was to be subjugated.  

In consequence to these developments, powerful popes, such as Alexander III (r. 1159–81), Innocent III (r. 1198–1216), Gregory IX (r. 1227–41), and Innocent IV (r. 1243–54) claimed authority over emperors and kings.

The Catholic Church therefore reformed from being subordinate to the secular power to be supreme over the secular rulers.  It developed political power, rivaling that of the secular rulers of Europe. For more detail, see:

Church and state in medieval Europe (Wikipedia)
The Power of the Church

12TH CENTURY

The 11th century was a period of change. In the 12th century, both the popes and kings adjusted to the new realities.

The papacy evolved into a great administrative bureaucracy. The papal court created legal machinery of great sophistication and became, in some ways, the highest court of appeals, exercising jurisdiction in a broad range of matters (Britannica).

13TH CENTURY

In the pontificate of Innocent III (1198–1216), the papal claims to authority reached their zenith. Innocent:

      • Declared that the pope stood between God and humankind as the vicar (stand in the place) of Christ.
      • Expanded papal legal authority by claiming jurisdiction over matters relating to sin.
      • Involved himself in the political affairs of France and the Holy Roman Empire.
      • Called the Fourth Crusade (1202–04), which led to the sack of Constantinople.
      • Also called the Albigensian Crusade, which was intended to end heresy in southern France and resulted in the massacre of Christians classified as heretics by the Papacy.
      • Approved legislation requiring Jews to wear special clothing.

Innocent’s successors continued his policies and further extended papal authority.

The popes carried out the Inquisition, which was a powerful office set up within the Catholic Church to root out and punish heresy. Beginning in the 12th century and continuing for hundreds of years, the Inquisition is infamous for the severity of its tortures. Its worst manifestation was in Spain, where the Spanish Inquisition was a dominant force for more than 200 years, resulting in some 32,000 executions. (History.com)

ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES

Christology of the persecuted church (First 300 years)
 – Introduction
 – Polycarp
 – Justin Martyr
 – Ignatius of Antioch
 – Irenaeus
 – Tertullian – work in progress

 – Origen – work in progress
 – The ancients referred to Jesus as our god.
Fourth Century (State Church)
 – Council of Nicaea – A.D. 325 
 – The Nicene Creed Interpreted 
 – Fourth Century Arian Period 

 – What did Arians believe in the fourth century?
 – Long Lines Creed – one of the creeds during the Arian period
 – Death of Arianism – Emperor Theodosius
Fifth Century
 – Fall of the Western Roman Empire;
 – Why the Roman Empire fell;

 – Roman Church grew in strength (also overview of the previous articles)
 – The Fall of Rome proves Daniel as a true prophecy.

Sixth Century
 Justinian and the Byzantine Papacy destroyed Arianism.
Middle Ages

 – The Church became the largest fragment of the Roman Empire.
 – The massacres of the Waldensians

 

 

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