An anti-Russia satirical map produced by a Japanese student in 1877 during the Russo-Japanese War

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At the time this map was created (1904, don’t listen to the headline), there was an ongoing “cold” conflict between Italy and the Papacy. When Italy was unified, they forcibly took over most of Rome and the surrounding middle section of the Italian peninsula; what used to be called The Papal States. These were lands over which the pope heretofore had been sovereign. For the first few decades of a unified Italy, the Pope refused to recognize the sovereignty of Italy over this territory and considered itself to be a prisoner in the Vatican. Conversely, Italy refused to recognize the pope’s sovereignty over Vatican City or the Papal States, administering it as simply a part of Italy. This was not resolved until Benito Mussolini came to power, and in order to shore up support amongst Italian catholics (i.e. basically all of them), he came to an agreement with the pope wherein the pope would yield his claims to the former Papal States, which had been de facto Italian territory for decades at this point, and Italy would recognize Vatican City as an independent sovereign state within the city of Rome. So in 1904, depicting the pope as a puppet/prisoner of Italy would be accurate, depending on who’s perspective you adhered to.

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