In Daniel 7:8 the prophet Daniel writes: "I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots."
As we have learned in the accompanying article, the "little" horn is the papacy. Who, then, are the three horns plucked up by the roots before the rise of the papacy?
The expression "plucked up by the roots" suggests that these horns were not there long enough to put down deep roots. Again, history helps us understand this prophecy.
In the fifth century, the same century in which the Western Roman Empire collapsed, we read of three barbarian leaders who took control of the city of Rome. The term barbarian was used by the Romans to describe all non-Romans.
The Roman Empire in the West fell in A.D. 476. Prior to its fall, Rome had been sacked by the Vandals in A.D. 455.
Another invasion came in 476 when a German chief, Odoacer, led his army into Rome, deposing the last Western emperor, Romulus Augustulus. The previous year Odoacer had been chosen by contingents of three barbarian tribes, the Scyri, Heruli and Rugii, to be their leader. After successfully conquering Rome, he had himself "proclaimed king in the barbaric fashion, and governed Italy with moderation under the theoretical tutelage of the emperor of the East" (Encyclopaedia Britannica, article, "Ancient Rome").
Odoacer's deposing of the last emperor is the official end of the Western Empire. The Eastern Roman Empire ruled from Byzantium, founded by Constantine in the early part of the fourth century, was to continue until 1453.
Odoacer was overthrown by Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths, at the request of the Eastern Emperor Zeno. Theodoric had himself proclaimed king of Italy at Ravenna in A.D. 494, ruling until 526, a long reign that secured tranquility and prosperity for his subjects. "His Goths, few in number, were established in the north; elsewhere he preserved the old imperial administration, with senators as prefects" (ibid.).
These three leaders weren't Catholic, but the papacy rose to great power during this time period. In 452 Pope Leo I (Leo the Great) left Rome to personally persuade the invading Attila the Hun not to attack Rome. It was during Leo's reign that the primacy of Rome was first claimed. "Through the mouth of Leo, Peter has spoken!" claimed the assembly at the Chalcedon Church Council in late 451 (The Popes, by Claudio Rendina, 2002, p. 65). The papacy was to play a major role in the succeeding seven revivals of the Roman Empire. The three horns "plucked out by the roots" did not involve the papacy.
Ten years after Theodoric's death, the Eastern Emperor Justinian decided on an invasion of Italy with a view to reviving the Roman Empire. A new era in church-state relations was about to begin with the woman (the church) riding the Beast. WNP