The States of the Church, more commonly called the Papal States, is a theocratic elective monarchy established in 754. It is ruled over by the Pope, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, who is chosen by the senior clergymen residing in or around Rome.
The Papal States were established when Pepin the Short donated Lombard conquests to the Papacy in 754 and again in 756. However, the Pope's prestige declined beginning in the mid-ninth century. By the year 900, the Pope had almost no actual temporal power.
When Benedict IV ascended to the Papal throne, he had high hopes. Almost immediately, he invited the Patriarch of the East to Rome in order to improve relations. However, despite the Patriarch being enthusiastic to the idea, he never actually came to Rome until recently. His lack of response was a source of constant frustration for Benedict, and eventually, it led to illness. Benedict IV was bedridden, while his friend Sergio took over most of the administrative work. The Patriarch and the Pope eventually reached an agreement and Benedict slowly began to recover. Sadly, Benedict was killed when Sergio went mad and stabbed him at one of his speeches. He was replaced by Leo V.
Rise and Fall of the Sergians
After Sergio took over, he became the unofficial leader of a new faction of Romans, the Sergians. Starting out as just a group of Sergio's followers, their numbers swelled. Although they remained a minority, they were quickly growing.
The Sergians were based on strong anti-Byzantine and anti-Muslim beliefs. They demanded an end to the meetings between the Pope and the Patriarch and the cessation of all relations with the Eastern Roman Empire. The Sergians also wished for the Muslim empires to be destroyed and replaced with Christian kingdoms.
Sergians became unpopular in the Papal States after Sergio's assassination of Pope Benedict IV. Sergio was killed shortly after, but many Sergian leaders managed to flee to Croatia. The Sergians gained enough influence to eventually have the East Frankish king under their control, but that only lasted for a few years. They now hide in Croatia, slowly being eliminated by the combined forces of Venice, the Eastern Roman Empire, and the Papal States.
The Papal States are allied with Italy, Benevento, Salerno, the Eastern Roman Empire, and Venice and are on good terms with Alba. They have a tense relationship with the Kievan Rus', who recently denied Catholic missionaries into their country. Relationships with Muslim nations vary from neutral to hostile. However, they are generally negative towards any other religion.