Last Roman Emperor, also called Last World Emperor or Emperor of the Last Days, is a figure of medieval European legend, which developed as an aspect of Christian eschatology. The legend predicts that in the end times, a last emperor would appear on earth to reestablish the 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.


See also: Christian eschatology

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] The work proposes a Last Emperor who will fight against religious enemies, most notably the then-recent spread of Islam during the Early Muslim conquests:[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]

Catholic tradition

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 Henri, Count of Chambord, would be the new king.

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]

An 1871 book, Future Career of Napoleon, advocated Napoleon III's reign as Roman Emperor over a 'new ten-kingdomed Roman Empire'.[6]

The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks only of Christ as the king who is to be manifested in "the last days".[7] It speaks of this manifestation as associated by his recognition by "all Israel"[8] 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".[9] 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.[10]

See also


  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. (eds.). 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. ^ Napoleon III, Emperor of the French, 1808-1873. (1871). Future career of Napoleon after the coming re-establishment of the Napoleon Empire. With opinions by Twenty Clergymen, etc. OCLC 1065340013.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 671-672
  8. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 674
  9. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 675
  10. ^ See Catholic Prophecy: The Coming Chastisement by Yves Dupont