Map of the Papal States (green) in 1789 before the French seized papal lands in France, including its exclaves of Benevento and Pontecorvo in Southern Italy, and the Comtat Venaissin and Avignon in Southern France.
The Papal States, officially the State of the Church (Italian: Stato della Chiesa, Italian pronunciation: [ˈstato della ˈkjɛːza]; Latin: Status Ecclesiasticus; also Dicio Pontificia), were a series of territories in the Italian Peninsula under the direct sovereign rule of the Pope, from the 8th century until 1870. They were among the major states of Italy from roughly the 8th century until the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia unified the Italian Peninsula by conquest in a campaign virtually concluded in 1861 and definitively in 1870. At their zenith, the Papal States covered most of the modern Italian regions of Lazio (which includes Rome), Marche, Umbria and Romagna, and portions of Emilia. These holdings were considered to be a manifestation of the temporal power of the pope, as opposed to his ecclesiastical primacy.
The Papal States were also known as the Papal State (although the plural is usually preferred, the singular is equally correct as the polity was more than a mere personal union). The territories were also referred to variously as the State(s) of the Church, the Pontifical States, the Ecclesiastical States, or the Roman States (Italian: Stato Pontificio, also Stato della Chiesa, Stati della Chiesa, Stati Pontifici, and Stato Ecclesiastico; Latin: Status Pontificius, also Dicio Pontificia "papal rule"). To some extent the name used varied with the preferences and habits of the European languages in which it was expressed.