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The Vatican today is the residence of the pope, in Rome.

During the Middle Ages and Renaissance the feudal holdings of the pope were much larger, and included all of Rome and much of central Italy stretching west to the Adriatic coast. This area, known as the Papal States included the Duchy of Urbino as well as Viterbo and other lands.

The Holy See's diplomatic history began in the fourth century, but the boundaries of the papacy's temporal power have shifted over the centuries. From the 8th century through the middle of the 19th century, the Popes held sway over the Papal States, which included a broad band of territory across central Italy. In 1860, after prolonged civil and regional unrest, Victor Emmanuel's army seized the Papal States, leaving only Rome and surrounding coastal regions under papal control.