In the eighth and ninth centuries certain political changes occurred which aided the Papacy to achieve its objective.
To be supreme, the Antichrist must have a country of his very own where he could reign supreme as both temporal monarch and spiritual potentate. The events of the centuries conspired, as it were, to make this possible.
The retirement of the emperor from Rome to Constantinople was the first event. Then the defeat of the Gothic powers in Italy by the Emperor Justinian.
The Eastern Empire, however, was distant and shadowy but still real and Pope Gregory II decided that he must rid himself of its jurisdiction. He used the controversy on the subject of image-worship which the Romans supported and the Eastern Church rejected, to instigate a revolt against the Emperor. His representative was slain and the last vestiges of his jurisdiction over Rome and Italy annihilated.
However the Longobards had invaded Northern Italy and the Pope now saw that both his spiritual and temporal authority were in jeopardy.
Pope Zachary turned to Pepin King of France. Pepin and his son Charlemagne responded to the Pope’s call and defeated the Longobards endowing the Papal chair with all the cities and lands of Italy which had been subject to their rule. The Pope at last was a crowned monarch.
Thus was fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel chapter 7:8, the three horns plucked up before the little horn, the antichrist. The three horns were, (one) the Vandals defeated by the Emperor Justinian’s General Belisarius, (two) the Ostogoths also uprooted by Justinian, and (three) the Longobards defeated by the sword of France.
It was in memory of these three events and his entering into their kingdom that the Pope wore the triple crown, the tiara.
The Antichrist must however climb higher yet. He must set his throne among the stars and be supreme above all the kings of the earth.
In the eleventh century there arose a Pope of inflexible resolution and towering pride, Gregory VII—Hildebrand. He put before the world with a precision, a boldness, and an argumentative force, never till then brough to its support, the claim to be the Vicar of Christ. He maintained that he was God upon earth. In two dreadful centuries of war and blood-shedding the succeeding Popes eventually turned Gregory’s theory into fact and the tiara triumphed over the empire.
The claim of Hildebrand was exhibited in the person and reign of Innocent III in the thirteenth century, in all its amplitude of despotism and blasphemy. History records no other achievement of equal magnitude.
The career both of Christ and Antichrist was to end on a throne but each was to reach their respective thrones by a very different road.