The Guelfi (Guelphs) are one of the two main factions of the Catholic noble houses of Italy, the other being the Ghibellines. Rising from the religious wars, the faction was composed by those families who had closer ties with the Roman Curia; their ideology argues that power by divine right must come with the approval of the Papacy and the Church (which can and should hold secular power), which thus holds a higher position than the nobles and lords. This comes with more severe treatment of unbelievers and of course a much greater degree of power and authority in the hands of the Church and its bishops. The Guelphs are sometimes considered the more powerful faction, as they are more numerous than the Ghibellines (especially in Central Italy) and have the Pope on their side, but the frequent infighting and intrigue taking place in the Curia results in a quite weak leadership and sometimes even pits one Guelph house against the other, and thus the Guelph families are often much more divided and distant from one another than the Ghibellines.
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