Read Revelation 17 at Bible Gateway.
Previously: revelation 17, ten horns of the beast, part three
The horns we have identified so far, include:
Constantine the Great, 306-337
Theodoric the Great, 488-526
Justinian the Great, 527-565
— Gregory the Great (pope Gregory I, 590-604), not one of the ten, but growing up among them
Charles the Great (Charlemagne), 768-814
Otto the Great (reigned as King of the Germans, 936-973; King of the Lombards (Northern Italy), 951-973; Emperor of the Romans, 962-973), after the death of Charlemagne, his empire was divided among his sons, who quarreled, began wars, lost territory, made alliances, trying to retain or increase their power, and so on until the Carolignian dynasty wore out in both France and Germany. Otto the Great succeeded his father as King of the Germans, who had gained the throne by election of the German nobles after the end of the Carolignians. Rebellions in various provinces obliged him to wage almost constant warfare, and being the victor in these conflicts, increased his sovereignty east and west, north and south, until his empire, while not exactly along the same borders as Charlemagne’s, nevertheless covered as vast amount of territory (map). He supported the pope during a rebellion against his civil authority, and in return, the pope crowned Otto Emperor of the Romans. The two signed a treaty in which the emperor guaranteed the protection of the papal states on behalf of the pope, the first such arrangement since Charlemagne.
In the war against the Lamb: in this era of the world’s history, the office of the papacy wielded so much power, that ambitious, rather than devout, men wanted to be pope, and there was bribery, fighting, and murder in order to gain the office. For many centuries at this time, the worst popes in the history of the office, committing the most heinous crimes against God and man, sat on the papal throne, and used their position not only to trample the flock, but to grasp ever more power, wealth, and licentious living to themselves; and the title, “Holy Father” and “Your Holiness” and “Vicar of Christ” was a complete and abominable travesty of all that is good and right.
For many centuries after Otto, civil wars between Germany and Italy (or the emperor and the pope, over the balance of power), and France and England, and crusades against the Mohammedans, kept any king from reaching greatness of empire that had characterized the horns we have so far seen.
Charles V (reigned as king of Spain from 1516, and Holy Roman Emperor from 1519-1556), Charles V was heir to three of Europe’s leading dynasties, and as he inherited title after title, his empire grew greater than any which had come before it.
Follow: his father was Philip I of Castile, a kingdom in Spain, whose own father was Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor and King of the Germans/ Romans. Maximilian was heir of the House of Hapsburg, the most influential dynasty in Europe in this epoch. The Hapsburgs produced all the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire from 1438 to 1740, and he ruled, as emperor, most of the provinces in what is now Germany and northern Italy; Austria; what is now Switzerland; and by marriage, Burgundy (a province of France), what is now Belgium, Holland and the Netherlands.
Maximilian’s son Philip, already ruling portions of France, Belgium, Holland, and the Netherlands, his mother’s estates, by his marriage to Joanna, princess of Castile and Aragon (the daughter of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, of Christopher Columbus fame), the two most prominent kingdoms in Spain, secured for the Hapsburgs the addition of the Spanish kingdoms to their crown. Philip died of typhoid fever while his son Charles was still a minor. On his majority, Charles received his grandmother’s estates of portions of France, Belgium, etc, and ascended the united Spanish throne at the age of 16 as the first King of Spain. His grandfather Maximilian was still alive and ruling the Holy Roman Empire, northern Italy, Austria, etc. at this time. Three years later, however, on the death of his grandfather, Charles ascended the throne of the Holy Roman Empire, the Archduchy of Austria, and his grandfather’s other smaller holdings as the Hapsburg heir. He was formally crowned emperor by the pope in Bologna in 1530.
At the tender age of 19, then, Charles ruled from the Atlantic Ocean almost to the Dneiper River in modern day Russia (map): all of Spain, provinces throughout France, Belgium and the Netherlands, Germany and northern Italy as Holy Roman Emperor, southern Italy as a Hapsburg heir, parts of Switzerland, Austria, Bohemia, Transylvania, and many more smaller states. If that was not enough, the Spanish empire at that time held great tracts of land in the New World, and colonies in Africa, India, and throughout the world, including the Spanish East Indies, so that it was first said of Charles V that the sun never set on his empire.
His war against the Lamb was horrific: as a Catholic monarch at the time of the Protestant Reformation, he felt it his duty to uphold the Roman church, and pursued persecutions of the Protestants, and any deviations from the Roman faith, in all his dominions. As his dominions were extensive, so were the persecutions. The Spanish Inquisition soon became a proverb for horrific torture and unreasoning murder. Who knows how many hundreds of thousands perished throughout Europe during his reign, his successors also continuing in the precedent that he set? However, the fierceness of the persecutions caused the saints of the Lamb to flee to the New World, where the woman was nourished in the wilderness for a time, times, and half a time.
Continued in revelation 17, ten horns of the beast, part five