from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- A group of territories in central Italy ruled by the popes from 754 until 1870. They were originally given to the papacy by Pepin the Short and reached their greatest extent in 1859. The last papal state—the Vatican City—was formally established as a separate state by the Lateran Treaty of 1929.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- proper n. One of the major historical states of Italy before the peninsula was unified in 1861. It comprised those territories over which the Pope was the ruler in a civil as well as a spiritual sense.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. the temporal dominions belonging to the pope (especially in central Italy)
Translation of Italian Stati Pontifici, from Latin Status Pontificius (Wiktionary)