At its Peak
As their name suggests, the Papal states were the territory that was controlled directly by the Pope. Centered around Rome, the Papal states began in the sixth century when the Byzantines invaded Italy. As the Byzantine Empire weakened the Pope gradually took over control of their Italian territories.
|The Papal States are in Red.|
During the Renaissance the territories expanded, led by "Warrior Pope" Julius II. The Papal states became one of the largest territories in the Italian peninsula and the states stretched into four modern day countries; Italy, France, Vatican City and San Marino.
The French Revolution led to the invasion of Italy by Napoleon and the loss of the Papal States. They were restored in 1814 following the fall of Napoleon but this proved only temporary as nationalism had been stoked in the peninsular. The Papal States were invaded by Italy in 1870 and Rome was declared the capital of the new nation.
The Pope signed a treaty with Benito Mussolini in 1929, creating the Vatican City State. At only 44 hectares, Vatican City is the smallest nation in the world.