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Sixth Edition, 1915
By Dr. John Thomas (first edition written 1861)



Chapter 13

Section 2 Subsection 26

The Further development of the Beast of the Earth



"In the twenty-six years," says Gibbon, "that elapsed between the conquest of Lombardy and his imperial coronation, Rome, which had been delivered by the sword, was subject, as his own, to the sceptre of CHARLEMAGNE. The people swore allegiance to his person and family; in his name money was coined, and justice was administered; and the election of the popes was examined and confirmed by his authority. Except an original and self-inherent claim of sovereignty, there was not any prerogative remaining which the title of emperor could add to the Patrician of Rome."

By the gift conferred upon the pretended Vicar of Christ by Pepin for the remission of his sins and the salvation of his soul, the world beheld for the first time a bishop invested with the prerogatives of a temporal prince: with the choice of magistrates, the exercise of justice, the imposition of taxes, and the wealth of the palace of Ravenna. In the plucking up the Lombard Horn by the roots, the inhabitants of the duchy of Spoleto sought a refuge from the storm, shaved their heads after the Roman fashion, declared themselves the servants and subjects of St. Peter, and completed by this voluntary surrender, the circle of the ECCLESIASTICAL STATE, or Patrimony of Saint Peter, as it existed previous to the first French Revolution. "That mysterious circle," says Gibbon, "was enlarged to an infinite extent by the verbal or written donation of Charlemagne, who, in the first transports of his victory, despoiled himself and the Greek emperor of the cities and islands which had formerly been annexed to the Exarchate. But in the cooler moments of absence and reflection, he viewed, with an eye of jealousy and envy, the recent greatness of his ecclesiastical ally. The execution of his own and his father's promises was respectfully eluded: the king of the Franks and the Lombards asserted the inalienable rights of the empire; and in his life and death, Ravenna, as well as Rome, was numbered in the list of his metropolitan cities. The sovereignty of the Exarchate melted away in the hands of the popes: they found in the Archbishops of Ravenna a dangerous and domestic rival: the nobles and people disdained the yoke of a priest: and in the disorders of the times, they could only retain the memory of an ancient claim, which, in a more prosperous age, they have revived and realized." It was realized when "the Image of the Beast" was created by the Beast of the Earth in after ages.

It was after the Nicene synod, and under the reign of Irene, that the Roman Pontiffs of the Latin Idolatry consummated the separation of Rome and Italy from the Dragon of the East, by the translation of the empire to the less orthodox Charlemagne. The popes were compelled to choose between the rival nations, which had been alienated from each other by the question concerning the demonials and idols for so many years. In that schism of the Apostasy the Romans had tasted of freedom, and the popes of sovereignty. The Greek Dragon had restored the idols, but he had not restored the Calabrian estates and the Illyrian diocese, which the Iconoclasts had torn away from the so-called successors of St. Peter. This embezzlement of Peter's goods, pope Adrian regarded as practical heresy to be punished with excommunication unless speedily repented of. The Greek emperors took a different view of the subject, and were more disposed to demand the restoration of the Exarchate, and the return of the pope from treason and rebellion to the alegiance of his rightful sovereign. But the popes had gone too far to recede; and besides Charlemagne was now the real owner of the Exarchate of Rome, and his right and power the pope was unable to alienate or abolish. Charlemagne was the Patrician of Rome, and Protector of the Romans, and consequently the Master and Protector of the pope who was too feeble to circumvent his policy had he been so disposed. His interests, therefore, attached him to Charlemagne: and it was only by reviving the western empire that they could pay their obligations to him, or secure their establishment. "By this decisive measure," says Gibbon, "they would finally eradicate the claims of the Greeks; from the debasement of a provincial town the majesty of Rome would be restored: the Latin christians would be united under a supreme head in their ancient metropolis; and the conquerors of the west would receive their crown from the successors of St. Peter. The Roman church would acquire a zealous and respectable advocate; and under the shadow of the Carlovingian power, the Bishop might exercise with honor and safety, the government of the city."

But Adrian did not live to witness the execution of the projects he had formed for the exaltation of the Roman church and the French monarchy. This rising up of a grand dominion was to be consummated by his successor, Leo III., who immediately sent to Charlemagne the standard of Rome, begging him to send some person to receive the oath of fidelity from the Romans; a most flattering instance of submission, as well as a proof that the sovereignty of Rome at that time belonged to the kings of France. Three years after, two nephews of the late pope attacked him in the street, dispersed the unarmed multitude, wounded htm in several places, and dragged him half dead into the church of St. Mark. He made his escape by the assistance of friends, who sent him under an escort to Charlemagne. He received him with all possible marks of respect, sent him back with a numerous retinue of guards and attendants, and went soon after to Italy in person to do him justice.

On the arrival of the French monarch at Rome, he spent six days in private conference with the Pope; after which he convoked the bishops and nobles, to examine the accusation brought against the pontiff. "The apostolic see," exclaimed the bishops, "cannot be judged by man." Leo, however, spoke to the accusation: he said the king came to know the cause, and no proof appearing against him, he purged himself by oath.

A more extraordinary scene soon followed this trial of the pope. On the festival of Christmas, A. D. 799, as the king assisted at mass in St. Peter's temple, in the midst of the ecclesiastical ceremonies, and while he was on his knees before the altar, the Roman Pontiff advanced and put an imperial crown upon his head. As soon as the people perceived it, they cried, "Long life and victory to Charles the most pious Augustus, crowned by the hand of God! Long life to the great and pacific Emperor of the Romans!" The head and body of Charlemagne were consecrated by the royal unction. During the acclamations, Leo conducted him to a magnificent throne, prepared for the purpose, and as soon as he was seated, after the example of the Caesars, he was saluted or adored by the pontiff, declaring that, instead of the title of Patrician, he should hence-forth style him EMPEROR and Augustus. Leo then presented him with the imperial mantle, with which being invested, Charles returned amid the acclamations of the populace to his palace.

The pope had unquestionably no right to proclaim an emperor, but Charles the Great was worthy of the imperial ensigns; and though in a certain sense a successor to Augustus, he is justly considered as the founder of the NEW EMPIRE of the West, from the establishment of which Europe dates a new era. That dominion was not unworthy of its title; for its founder reigned at the same time in France, Spain, Italy, Germany and HUNGARY - the last of the three horns plucked up by the roots before him; the Horns of the Vandals, the Lombards, and the Huns. After a bloody conflict of eight years the relics of the nation submitted, and the rapine of the Huns, for two hundred and fifty years, enriched the victors or decorated the temples of France and Italy. After the plucking up of the Hungarian Horn, the New Dominion was bounded by the conflux of the Danube with the Teyss and the Save, with the unprofitable provinces of Istria, Liburnia and Dalmatia. The rest of the Ten Horns, which had degenerated into petty sovereignties, revered the power of Charlemagne, implored the honor and support of his alliance, and styled him their common parent, the sole and supreme emperor of the West. Two-thirds of the western empire of Rome were subject to him; while the other third was still possessed by the Dragon of Constantinople, in conflict with the Saracens, whose mission was to torment, but not to kill, the body politic of the east, during two periods of five months of years each (Apoc. 9:5,10).

It is worthy of note here, that in treating of the enemies with which Charlemagne had to contend, the historian expresses his surprise that he should prefer attacking the poverty of the North to the riches of the South. "It was an effect of his moderation," says Gibbon, "that he left the maritime cities under the real or nominal sovereignty of the Greeks

The three and thirty campaigns laboriously consumed in the woods and morasses of Germany, would have sufficed to assert the amplitude of his title by the expulsion of the Greeks from Italy and the Saracens from Spain. The weakness of the Greeks would have ensured an easy victory, and the holy crusade against the Saracens would have been prompted by glory and revenge, and loudly justified by religion and policy." But the historian did not know, or at least recognize the truth, that Charlemagne and the Saracens were the sword of Yahweh appointed to work out His purpose, which He had revealed to his servants through the apostle John. He did not intend Charlemagne and the Saracens to destroy one another. He gave the Saracens a mission against the demonial and idol worshippers of the East and South, and when they exceeded it, he caused the grandfather of Charlemagne, named Charles Martel, to give them a signal overthrow at Chalons, A.D. 732. He treated the first Napoleon in the same way at Moscow. Charlemagne's mission was precisely that which excited Gibbon's surprise. He was not employed by the Eternal Spirit against the maritime dominions. Hence, what Gibbon styles "his moderation." The Providential work before him was an operation in which the Romans with all their skill and power could never succeed. His work was the subjugation of Germany. This is why he laboriously consumed thirty-three campaigns in the woods and morasses of Germany. These constituted "the Earth" out of which the Two-Horned Dominion was to ascend - the Middle Europe of our time. This was to be the arena of the Little Horn among the Ten. Besides founding a dominion over the population of these woods and forests, he was to pluck up by the roots three of the Ten Horns. This enlarged his mission to the work of annexing Italy and Hungary to his Mitteleuropische Reich, or Middle European Kingdom, as the Germans style it. By the annexation of Italy, he also annexed the Roman Church with its Universal Bishop; and in so doing he inserted a pair of Eyes and a Mouth into his Horn, of which he regarded himself as the ruling brain.

Here, then, was an imperial ecclesiastical dominion, consisting of the episcopal orders and lay nobility under a secular chief, as the ruling power. This imperial constitution of the Beast of the Earth was predicted by John in the words, elalei hos drakon, he spake as being a Dragon. The reader is well aware that a dragon is the symbol, both in Heraldry and the Apocalypse, of the dominion of an emperor, not of a simple king. This new power was an emperorship among neighboring kingdoms; and the large admixture of the clerical orders with the lay nobles, over whom they preponderated in the administration of state affairs, constituted it an EPISCOPAL POWER. Charlemagne seems to have fore-seen that the claims of the clergy, though inactive against himself, would be urged in after times, and at length overshadow his throne. He determined, therefore, to assert the independent right of monarchy and conquest. Hence, the year before his death, A.D. 813, he summoned a parliament at Aix-la-Chapelle, where he asked every one present whether they would be pleased that he should give his son Louis, afterwards styled "the Pious," the title of Emperor, and they assenting made him his colleague in the empire. At this coronation he commanded Louis to take the crown from the altar, and with his own hands, without intervention of pope or bishop, to place it on his head, as a gift which he held from his father from God, and from the nation.

Charles the Great died A.D. 814, aged 72 years, having reigned forty-eight years, and as an emperor fourteen. His sceptre was transmitted from father to son in a lineal descent of four generations, and the ambition of the popes was reduced to the empty honor of crowning and anointing these hereditary princes who were already invested with their power and dominions.




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