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
imperiumand 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.
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
* 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, Duxand 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.
In modern speech, a leader appointed by a foreign power during
military occupationis sometimes anachronistically described as a proconsul. One example was Gotara Ogawa during Japan's military occupation of Burma (1942 - 1945), another, US general Douglas MacArthurwho was referred to as the Proconsul of Japan after World War II. More recently, the " Wall Street Journal" described the US Civilian Administrator of Iraqas 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 Axworthycalled former United Statesambassador 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
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.