The Papal States of The Holy See

February 08, 2012

Papal States, former Italian territory under the temporal rule of the Popes. Although earlier papal claims had been made to Rome and other parts of Italy, the states formally originated in 754, when Pepin The Short (c.714-768), 1st Carolingian King of the Franks, conquered the Lombards and bestowed a large portion of central Italy upon Pope Stephen III (752-757). Pepin founded the temporal power of Papacy, which endured until 1870.

In 773, Pope Hadrian I (772-795) prevailed upon Charlemagne, or Charles The Great (742-814), son of Pepin, to come to his help. The Frankish King repudiated the Lombard Queen he had married, and the Lombard alliance she had represented, then marched into Italy. In 774, Charlemagne deposed the last German Lombards, and claimed the title for himself. He confirmed for the Pope the ' Donation of Pepin', by which his father had recognized the regions around Rome as Papal territory (the Patrimony of St. Peter). On Chistmas night, 800, Charlemagne was crowned Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III (795-816). However, throughout his reign, Charlemagne himself and not the Pope remained the effective ruler of Papal States.

Europe and the Papacy suffered cruelly during terrible civil wars among the descendants of Charlemagne, and more terrible raids of the Vikings, Saracens, Avars, and Magyars. Saracen raiders sacked St. Peter's in 846.

Further territory was conferred upon the Church during the Middle Ages, but the status of the Popes as secular rules remained ambiguous, due to political conflicts with the Holy Roman Emperors. At their widest extent the Italian Papal States stretched in a rough diagonal from coast to coast in central Italy. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the county of Venaissin, with Avignon, in what is now France, was added.

While the Catholic Reformation of the 16th century increased the spiritual authority of the Pope, the political power of the Papacy declined. Twice during French Revolutionary and Napoleonic times, the Papal States were formally abolished and came under French hegemony. In 1815, Congress of Vienna restored papal control under Austrian protection.

The 19th century Popes were generally opposed to the movement for Italian unification. In 1859, as a result of the Italo-Austrian War, the Papacy was deprived of more than two-thirds of the 16,000 sq. mi. that constituted its traditional domain. In 1870, when an occupation force of French troops was withdrawn by Napoleon III, the remaining papal territory, centering around the city of Rome, was incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy.

The Popes refused to recognize the legality of the action. Until Lateran Treaty, an agreement in 1929, between the Holy See and the Kingdom of Italy that healed the breach between the two created by Italy's seizure of Rome in 1870. It consisted a political agreement, a financial settlement, and an ecclesiatical concordant regulating the relations between the Church and the state in Italy. In February 11, 1929, under the terms of political agreement, the Holy See recognized the Kingdom of Italy, with Rome as its capital, and the new state of Vatican City, a small area of 108,7 acres within the city of Rome. Vatican City's inviolability and neutrality were guarantee by the Italian government, was created under the sovereignty of the Pope. The Lateran Treaty increased temporally the prestige of Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini. The republican constitution adopted in 1947, recognized that relations between the Church and the Italian state were governed by the Lateran Treaty.



Happy 83th Independence Day to The Papal States of The Holy See




Source Encyclopedia International by :

  • Robert D. Warth, Hunter College. (Papal States, book 14:50)
  • Istvan Deak, Professor of History and Director of the Institute on East Central Europe, Columbia University. (Pepin The Short, book 14:187)
  • David Herlihy, Professor of History, University of Winconsin. Author, Pisa in the Early Renaissance: A Study of Urban Growth. (Charlemagne, book 4:256)
  • Armand Patrucco, Associate Professor of History, Rhode Island College. (Lateran Treaty, book 10:372)

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