Ancient Rome

In the Roman Republic, a proconsul was a promagistrate (like a propraetor) who, after serving as consul, spent a year as a governor of a province. Certain provinces were reserved for proconsuls; who received which one by senatorial appointment was determined by random choosing or negotiation between the two proconsuls.

Under the Empire, the Emperor derived a good part of his powers (alongside the military imperium and the tribunician power and presidency of the senate in Rome) from a constitutionally 'exceptional' (but permanent) mandate as the holder of proconsular authority over all, hence, so-called Imperial provinces, generally with one or more legions garrisoned (often each under a specific legate); however, he would appoint legates and other promagistrates to govern each such province in his name. The former Consuls (constitutionally still eponymic chief magistrates of the "res publica", but politically powerless) would still receive a term as proconsul of one of the other, so-called Senatorial provinces.

The notitia dignitatum (a unique early 5th century imperial chancery document) still mentions three Proconsuls (Propraetors had completely disappeared), apparently above even the Vicars of the dioceses in protocol though administratively their subordinates as all governors; the diocesan vicars in turn were under the four praetorian prefects, since Diocletian's Tetrarchy :
* in the eastern empire "Asia" ( [Minor] , a western part of Anatolia) and Achaia (i.e. Greece)
* in the western empire only "Africa" (mainly modern Tunisia).

The many other, often new or split, provinces are under governors of various other -younger, usually less prestigious- styles: Comes, Praefectus Augustalis (unique to Egypt, the emperor's 'pharaonic crown domain'), Consularis, Praeses (provinciae), Corrector provinciae; these are not to be confused with the also territorially organised (but overlapping) and strictly military governors: Comes militaris, Dux and later Magister Militum.

Provinces that have been governed by a proconsul include: Achaea, Africa, Asia (see above for all three), Cilicia, Cyprus, Gallia Lugdunensis, Hispania Tarraconensis, Syria and Palestina.

Modern analogy

In modern speech, a leader appointed by a foreign power during military occupation is sometimes anachronistically described as a proconsul. One example was Gotara Ogawa during Japan's military occupation of Burma (1942 - 1945), another, US general Douglas MacArthur who was referred to as the Proconsul of Japan after World War II. More recently, the "Wall Street Journal" described the US Civilian Administrator of Iraq as a "modern proconsul".

The term has also been used as a disparagement towards individuals, especially ambassadors, who have attempted to influence the governments of foreign countries. In one instance, former Canadian cabinet minister Lloyd Axworthy called former United States ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci "the U.S. ambassador-turned-proconsul" in an opinion piece in the April 29, 2003 "Globe and Mail" newspaper. Axworthy's comments were in response to Cellucci's frequent warnings to the Canadian government on domestic policy matters (such as the decriminalization of marijuana) which were often perceived by Canadians as threats.

ources and References

*Notitia dignitatum
*Pauly-Wissowa (in German)

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  • proconsul — [ prokɔ̃syl ] n. m. • 1140; lat. proconsul ♦ Hist. rom. Nom donné, après Sylla, aux anciens consuls qui recevaient le gouvernement d une province et possédaient les pouvoirs militaire, civil et judiciaire. ⇒ gouverneur, magistrat. ♢ Fig. « Être… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • proconsul — PROCÓNSUL, proconsuli, s.m. Magistrat roman care, după încheierea consulatului, era însărcinat cu guvernarea unei provincii. – Din lat., fr. proconsul. Trimis de oprocopiuc, 18.04.2004. Sursa: DEX 98  PROCÓNSUL s. (ist.) (înv.) antipat.… …   Dicționar Român

  • Procónsul — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Para el primate extinto, véase Proconsul (primate) Magistratura romana surgida para la administración provincial por delegación del cónsul. Las funciones de los cónsules, al aumentar el territorio, hubieron de ser… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Proconsul — Proconsul,   1) antikes Rom: Prokonsul.    2) Paläontologie: ausgestorbene Gattung der Menschenaffen aus dem frühen Miozän (vor rd. 22 17 Mio. Jahren) Ostafrikas. Proconsul wird heute als sehr unspezialisierter Hominoide von der Größe eines… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • PROCONSUL — dictus est apud Romanos, vel cui ultra legitimum, i. e. annuum tempus Magistratus prorogatus est; qualis primus fuit Q. Publilius Philo, bello Palaepolitano implicitus, ut in Tabb. Capitolinis exstat et in Liv. l. 8. Vel, qui e privato in… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • proconsul — (n.) late 14c., governor or military commander of an ancient Roman province, from L. proconsul, from phrase pro consule (acting) in place of a consul, from pro (see PRO (Cf. pro )) + ablative of CONSUL (Cf. consul). In modern use, usually… …   Etymology dictionary

  • procónsul — (Del lat. proconsul, ŭlis). m. Entre los antiguos romanos, gobernador de una provincia con jurisdicción e insignias consulares …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • Proconsul — Pro*con sul, n. [L., fr. pro for + consul consul.] (Rom. Antiq.) An officer who discharged the duties of a consul without being himself consul; a governor of, or a military commander in, a province. He was usually one who had previously been… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Proconsul — (röm. Ant.), in den früheren Zeiten Roms entweder ein Consul, welchem nach Verlauf seines Amtsjahres das Consulat verlängert wurde, od. welcher als gewesener Consul, doch auch als Magistrat von niederem Range od. als Privatperson in dringenden… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • procônsul — s. m. 1. Funcionário da antiga Roma encarregado do governo de uma província. 2.  [Figurado] Governador despótico. = TIRANETE • Plural: procônsules …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • proconsul — Proconsul. s. m. Celuy qui chez les Romains gouvernoit une Province avec la mesme authorité que s il estoit Consul …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

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