Frederick the Great
Although later history would know King Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor as Frederick the Great, even he was pointed out as the Antichrist during part of his reign. He certainly had a hard time of it while he was the Holy Roman Emperor though. While Frederick tried his best to be the ruler of Germany, Burgundy, Italy, Sicily and Jerusalem by being an avid patron of the arts and sciences, particularly the support of poetry, he still could not escape making enemies since his empire was always having trouble with the Papal States. Even though Frederick could speak six languages (Sicilian, French, German, Latin, Arabic, and Greek), none of those tongues could keep him away from issues with the pope (Gregory IX and then Innocent IV). Frederick’s eldest son tried to take over before his father was ready to hand power down to him at the same time the pope wanted Frederick to go on yet another crusade to “reclaim” the Holy Land again. Since he was busy with his own affairs, Frederick stayed at home to settle his empire instead of running off to Jerusalem—making Gregory IX excommunicate him and denounce him as the Antichrist. Still trying to get things in order when Innocent IV tried to make him go on a crusade, that pope excommunicated him too and sent out pamphlets calling Frederick the Antichrist so that other European monarchs might invade Frederick’s territory. The fact that we still call him Frederick the Great though lets us know that his actions as diligently ruling most of continental Europe means that whatever the pope said the normal people were not going to call their great king the Antichrist.
Pope Innocent IV
Yep, for every name caller there is his opponent. While Pope Innocent IV tried to proclaim Frederick as the Antichrist because of his refusal to fund and follow through with a war over Jerusalem yet again, they do not call Frederick “the Great” for nothing. He used his popularity throughout his entire kingdom and empire to turn the finger right back at Pope Innocent IV. While it may seem a bit odd to name the pope as the Antichrist, it was actually common place during the Reformation. Martin Luther himself called the papacy in general as those against Christ and the pope, as their leader, would be the Antichrist. Several other major reformers liked to preach against the pope as the Antichrist to put more poignancy to their religious movements away from the Church. Yet, Frederick spoke against Innocent IV for several reasons. He wanted to make people not believe Innocent’s claims that he was the Antichrist, add cohesiveness to his empire against the Papal States, and perhaps even to add legitimacy to his claim to the Italian throne which would include Vatican City itself. Frederick hired a theologian to help him build a case as Innocent IV to be the Antichrist who came up with the idea that Innocent’s name actually equaled the number of the beast (666) when it was broken down by the theological study of numbers called gramatria. The “over reaching” attribute of Innocent IV made Frederick’s job of labeling him the Antichrist rather easy. After Innocent called Frederick the Antichrist, the pope then sent a messenger party on a 3,000 mile trip that took a year and a half to complete to the leader of the Mongols (Kuyuk Khan) at that time. Innocent wanted Kuyuk to know that as the pope he had dominion over all kingdoms and peoples on Earth—including the Mongols, even though they were not even Christians. However, like all popes, Innocent IV was old when he was elected and soon died (even though Frederick preceded him in the afterlife) after his failed attempts to have Christian control of the world and to overthrow both Frederick and his natural heir Manfred.
Napoleon Bonaparte was infamous for a lot of things—stealing dictatorial power over the French people, invading and conquering parts of Europe, and overcompensating for his short stature with wealthy and military prowess. However, a lesser known element of Emperor Napoleon is that he was denounced as the Antichrist by his opponents. They did not have to really stretch themselves for proof of Napoleon being the Antichrist though as he made it relatively easy. Napoleon invaded Italy and took the pope captive. After six weeks of being under guard by French troops, the pope died in captivity. Napoleon seemed to feel a bit guilty once the pope had died under his watch and decided to re-establish the Catholic Church within France. Even though this seemingly peace making act made the Church lessen on its campaign of words that claimed Napoleon as the Antichrist, it quickly recanted any positives as Napoleon continued to sack monasteries when he invaded a new land and secularize schools and any charitable institutions. Napoleon truly was becoming a viable Antichrist candidate with his secular movements wrapped up in his military exploits. Yet, Napoleon was eventually imprisoned in exile, broke out, regained power, and then was imprisoned in exile again on Saint Helena. He lived on a very shabby estate on the island, most likely as a way to hasten his bad health into death. Dead and gone without the end of the world either.
Adolf Hitler is the classic Antichrist example. Everyone freely acknowledges the man had evil oozing from his ears. It is indicated that the Antichrist would originally be a man of the Christian god, and no one can deny that Hitler carried out that requirement in his attack on anyone who was not a German Christian. To most of Europe, World War II certainly could seem like the end of the world with so much death and destruction running rampant across the land. The primary man responsible for this revolution of death was an easy candidate for the Antichrist. However, World War II finally did come to an end in 1945 with an Allies victory, and Hitler was found dead with his newly married bride Eva. Cross him off the list too.