Last Roman Emperor

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Last Roman Emperor, Last World Emperor or Emperor of the Last Days is a figure of medieval European legend, which developed as an aspect of eschatology in the Catholic Church. The legend predicts that in the end times, a last emperor would appear on earth to reestablish the Holy Roman Empire and assume his function as biblical katechon who stalls the coming of the Antichrist. The legend first appears in the 7th-century apocalyptic text known as the Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius; that and the oracles of the Tiburtine Sibyl are its two most important sources. It developed over the centuries, becoming particularly prominent in the 15th century. The notion of Great Catholic Monarch is related to it, as is the notion of the Angelic Pope.



The biblical foundations for the concept of the Great Monarch can be found in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. References in the Old Testament can be found in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and Zechariah. It is also found in the New Testament. Catholic teaching refers to the 25th chapter of Matthew's Gospel in which Christ says that no one knows the hour or the day, except the Father in Heaven. The Church furthermore teaches that Christ indicated the approximation of these events in the New Testament, when he spoke of signs which would indicate that the end of days was near. Some of these signs include natural disasters, civil problems, and other catastrophes. Of the precise time, however, it is unknown.


The legend is based on the Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius, which was, after the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation, "the most widespread apocalypse story in Europe".[1] It proposes a different Last Emperor from the previous figure, who fought against religious enemies, and introduced the conflict with Islam:[2] he will "go forth against them [the enemies of the faith] from the Ethiopian sea and will send the sword and desolation into Ethribus their homeland, capturing their women and children living in the Land of Promise".[3] After conquering his enemies he would travel to Jerusalem and relinquish his power on the Mount of Olives.[2] The Last Emperor was further developed in the writings of Adso of Montier-en-Der, whose Libellus de Antichristo (ca. 954) was a popular biography of the Antichrist, whose coming was preceded by the rise of a Frankish ruler (the continuation of the Roman Empire); this Last Emperor would voluntarily give up his power and die, after which the Antichrist comes to power.[3] Another important impetus came from the oracles of the Tiburtine Sibyl, first recorded in Latin around the year 1000; its legend proved particularly adaptable to rulers all over Europe, containing as it did a list of emperors and kings leading up to the Last Emperor which could be revised or added to as political and dynastic circumstances required.[2] It still had great currency in the fifteenth century.[4]


Eschatology is a part of theology and philosophy concerned with the final events in the history of the world, or the ultimate destiny of humanity, commonly referred to as the end of the world.

While in mysticism the phrase metaphorically refers to the end of ordinary reality and reunion with the Divine, in the Catholic Church it is taught as an actual future event prophesied in sacred texts or prophecies or apocalyptic literature.

More broadly, it encompasses related concepts such as the Antichrist, the return of Jesus, the end times, end of days and the end of the world, the resurrection of the dead, the Last Judgment, the renewal of creation, heaven and hell, the establishment of the kingdom of God, and the consummation of all of God's purposes, the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy and the beginning of the Messianic Age.

The term eschatology is often used in a more popular and narrower sense when comparing various interpretations of the Book of Revelation and other prophetic parts of the Bible, such as the Book of Daniel and various sayings of Jesus in the Gospels, such as the Olivet discourse and the Judgment of the Nations, concerning the timing of what many Christians believe to be the imminent second coming of Christ.

Catholic tradition[edit]

The concept of the Great King features prominently in mystical and folk traditions, as well as writings of people thought to have been granted gifts of prophecy or special visitations by messengers from heaven (such as angels, saints, or Christ). The Great Catholic Monarch was very popular in popular folklore until the 18th century Enlightenment. He reappeared in 19th century prophecy when French legitimists believed that the count of Chambord, Henry V of France would be the new king.

Saint Remigius, bishop of Reims and apostle of the Franks, baptised Clovis I, king of the Franks on 24 December 496. This baptism, leading to the conversion of the entire Frankish people to Nicene Christianity, was a momentous success for the Catholic Church and a seminal event in European history. He had a vision and prophesied that in the distant future, the last monarch who descended from the line of the kings of France, would be revealed and reestablish the Holy Roman Empire at the end of time. This prophecy was related through Hincmar, archbishop of Reims, and Rabanus Maurus Magnentius O.S.B., archbishop of Mainz. Marie-Julie Jahenny (1850-1941), also known as the "Breton" stigmatist, prophesied that Henry V, the Count of Chambord, was the chosen King. Despite his death, one of her predictions dated 1890 declares he is yet "reserved for the great epochs", i.e. the end of time.[5]

The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks only of Christ as the king who is to be manifested in "the last days".[6] It speaks of this manifestation as associated by his recognition by "all Israel"[7] and preceded by the Church's ultimate trial, "a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh".[8] It makes no mention of the coming of any Great Catholic Monarch, whether French or German or of any continent.

The French writer and Traditionalist Catholic Yves Dupont has opined that the Great Monarch will have a restorationist character and that he will restore European Catholic royalty, destroy the power of heretics and atheists, and successfully convert many Muslims and Jews to the Faith.[9]


  • S.N., Mirabilis Liber, 1522
  • Baethgen, Friedrich, Der Engelpapst: Vortrag gehalten am 15. Januar 1933 in öffentlicher Sitzung der Königsberger Gelehrten Gesellschaft, M. Niemeyer, Halle (Saale), 1933 OCLC 9819016
  • Alexander, Paul J., Byzantium and the Mirgration of Literary Works and Motifs: The Legend of the Last Roman Emperor, in Medievalia et Humanistica, NS 2 (1971), p. 47 ISSN ...
  • Muraise, Eric, Histoire et légende du grand monarque, Albin Michel, Paris, 1975 ISBN 2-253-02052-4
  • Alexander, Paul J., The Medieval Legend of the Last Roman Emperor and Its Messianic Origin, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 41 (1978), pp. 1–15 ISSN ...
  • Marquis de la Franquerie de la Tour, André Lesage, Le Saint Pape et le grand monarque d'après les prophéties, Editions de Chiré, Chiré-en-Montreuil, 1980 ISBN ...
  • Bertin, Francis, La révolution et la parousie du grand monarque, in Politica Hermetica, 3 (1989), pp. ... ISSN ...
  • Birch, Desmond A., Trial, Tribulation & Triumph: Before, During, and After Antichrist, Queenship Publishing Company, ..., 1997 ISBN 978-1-882972-73-9
  • Möhring, Hannes, Der Weltkaiser der Endzeit, Jan Thorbecke Verlag, Stuttgart, 1999 ISBN 978-3-7995-4254-8
  • Otto, Helen Tzima, The Great Monarch and WWIII in Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Scriptural Prophecies, The Verenikia Press, Rock Hill, 2000 ISBN 1-891663-01-1
  • Gabriele, Matthew, An Empire of Memory: The Legend of Charlemagne, the Franks, and Jerusalem before the First Crusade, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2011 ISBN 978-0-19-959144-2
  • Rubenstein, Jay, Armies of Heaven: The First Crusade and the Quest for Apocalypse, Basic Books, 2011 ISBN 978-0-4650-1929-8

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Emperor of the World: Charlemagne and the Construction of Imperial Authority, 800-1229 - PDF Free Download". Retrieved 2018-08-30.
  2. ^ a b c Latowsky, Anne A. (2013). Emperor of the World: Charlemagne and the Construction of Imperial Authority, 800–1229. Cornell UP. pp. 70–72. ISBN 9780801451485.
  3. ^ a b McGinn, Bernard (1979). "Adso of Montier-en-Der". Apocalyptic Spirituality: Treatises and Letters of Lactantius, Adso of Montier-en-Dur, Joachim of Fiore, the Franciscan Spirituals, Savonarola. New York: Paulist Press. pp. 89–96.
  4. ^ McKendrick, Geraldine; MacKay, Angus (1991). "Visionaries and Affective Spirituality during the First Half of the Sixteenth Century". In Perry, Mary Elizabeth; Cruz, Anne J. Cultural Encounters: The Impact of the Inquisition in Spain and the New World. Berkeley: U of California P. pp. 93–101.
  5. ^ 'Marie-Julie Jahenny, The 'Breton Stigmatist': Her life and Prophecies,
  6. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 671-672
  7. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 674
  8. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 675
  9. ^ See Catholic Prophecy: The Coming Chastisement by Yves Dupont