The Papal State(s), State(s) of the Church or Pontifical States (Italian: Stato Ecclesiastico, Stato Pontificio, Stato della Chiesa, Stati della Chiesa or Stati Pontificii; Latin: Status Pontificius) were one of the major historical states of Italy from roughly the 6th century until the Italian peninsula was unified in 1861 by the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia (after which the Papal States, in less territorially extensive form, continued to exist until 1870).
The Papal States comprised territories under direct sovereign rule of the papacy, and at its height it covered most of the modern Italian regions of Romagna, Marche, Umbria and Lazio. This governing power is commonly called the temporal power of the Pope, as opposed to his ecclesiastical primacy.
The plural Papal States is usually preferred; the singular Papal State (equally correct since it was not a mere personal union) is rather used (normally with lower-case letters) for the modern State of Vatican City, an enclave within Italy's national capital, Rome. Vatican City was founded in 1929, again allowing the Holy See the political benefits of territorial sovereignty.