Theocracy is just another Form of Dictatorship: Theory and Evidence from the Papal Regimes
This paper tests the explanatory and predictive power of a theory of dictatorship (e.g., Wintrobe 1998, 2007) when applied to the case of theocracy and in particular to the history of the temporal power of the Popes. We consider the behaviour of the Catholic theocracy in the Papal States, as this was a very long lasting theocracy, exposed to many historical shocks that reveal information about the incentives and constraints that characterize it. We use this information to test the explanatory power of the theory of dictatorship, showing that never in the history of the temporal power of the Church have the four categories of dictatorship that the theory foresees (tinpot, tyrant, totalitarian and conceivably timocrat) proven inadequate. Theocracy is just like any other form of dictatorship. Furthermore, we test some of the predictions of the theory of dictatorship about the durability of, and the source of opposition to the various regimes on data about the Papacy. The results appear to support the theory.
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