States of the Church

States of the Church, called also The Papal States, was the name given to the dominions formerly belonging to the see of Rome. These states occupied the central part of Italy, stretching across the peninsula in an oblique direction from the Mediterranean to the Adriatic, bounded south by Naples, and north by Tuscany, Modena, and the Austrian possessions. The territory included twenty provinces, six of which, called Legations, were governed by a cardinal legate, and fourteen, called Delegations, were administered by dignitaries of lower degree. The number of square miles was 15,381; population, 3,124,688, including about 10,000 regular clergy or monks, 8000 nuns, and about 32,000 secular clergy.

The central government was an elective monarchy. The pope for the time being was the absolute sovereign. of the States; he was assisted by a council of ministers and a council of state, over each of which the cardinal secretary of state presided. The congregation or board called "Sacra Consulta," consisting of cardinals and prelates, superintended the administration of the provinces, and was also a court of appeals for criminal matters. The temporal power of the pope, exerted over these states, derived its origin from his spiritual power, and the following is, in brief, its history. After the fall of the Western Empire, Rome retained its municipal government, and the bishop of Rome, styled Praesul, was elected by the joint votes of the clergy, the senate, and the people, but was not consecrated until the choice was confirmed by the Eastern emperor. In 726 pope Gregory declared himself independent of the Byzantine crown, which act was the first step towards the establishment of temporal sovereignty. Rome now governed itself as an independent commonwealth, forming alliances with the dukes of Benevento and Spoleto and with the Longobards; the pope generally being the mediator of these transactions. Pepin, having defeated Astolphus, king of the Longobards, obliged him not only to respect the duchy of Rome, but to give up the exarchate of Ravenna and the Pentapolis "to the Holy Church of God and the Roman republic." Pepin's son, Charlemagne, confirmed and enlarged the donation. The temporal power of the popes in these times was very little, being restrained on one side by the republican spirit of the people, and on the other by the imperial power, which regained the ascendency whenever the emperor visited Rome. In 1053 the pope obtained the duchy of Benevento by aid of the Normans, and the fiefs of Matilda of Tuscany, in Parma, Modena, Mantua, and Tuscany, by her will dated 1102. Severe struggles as to authority over the Papal States ensued between Gregory VII and Henry IV, between Innocent III, Henry VI, and Otho IV; and it was not until 1278 that pope Nicholas III induced Rudolph I of Hapsburg to acknowledge him a free sovereign, thereby establishing the Papal States as an independent empire. The territory of the States was increased under Julius II by Pesaro, Rimini, Faenza, and Reggio; in 1598 by Ferrara, Comacchio, and the Romagna; in 1623 by Urbinio; and in 1650 by Romiglione and the duchy of Castro. It underwent some change during the wars of Napoleon, being at one time entirely incorporated with France. In 1814 the pope was restored to his dominions. Soon after his accession, pope Pius IX, after a series of liberal concessions to his subjects, appointed a ministry, at the head of which was count Rossi, and granted a constitutional parliament, consisting of ninety-nine members popularly elected. But the democratic element was unsatisfied, and count Rossi was assassinated, Nov. 15, 1848. The pope fled to Gaeta (Nov. 25) and placed himself under the protection of the king of Naples. A provisional junta was instituted in Rome, and a constituent assembly called, which proclaimed a republican form of government, and declared the pope divested of all temporal power (Feb. 8, 1849). The pope protested and the great Catholic powers interfered in his behalf. France, Spain, and Naples sent troops to support his rights, and the French army besieged Rome, June 23, 1849, which surrendered unconditionally July 3. The French took possession, and soon after proclaimed the authority of the pope; who, however, did not return till April 12, 1850. The people were dissatisfied, and one province after another emancipated itself from the papal scepter, and united with the kingdom of Italy. The French soldiers left Rome Aug. 21, 1870, and king Victor Emmanuel took possession of the city, declaring it the capital of Italy, and thereby abolishing the temporal power of the pope. SEE TEMPORAL POWER.

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