Consul: Map


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Ancient Rome

During the time of ancient Rome as a Republic, the consuls were the highest civil and military magistrates, serving as the heads of government for the Republic. New consuls were elected every year. There were two consuls, and they ruled together. However, after the establishment of the Empire, the consuls were merely a figurative representative of Rome’s republican heritage and held very little power and authority, with the emperor acting as the supreme leader.

Other uses in antiquity

Other city states

While in many cities (as in Gaul) there was a double-headed chief magistracy, often another title was used, such as Duumvir or native styles such as Meddix, but Consul was used in some.

Private sphere

It was not uncommon for various organisations under Roman private law to copy the terminology of state and city institutions for its own statutory agents (the very founding statute or contract was also called lex, 'law')The people elected each year were partricians. whitch is a member of upper class in ancient rome.

In feudal times

In republican cities in Italy, the chief magistrates had the title of Consul; thus there have been governments lead by consuls in Bolognamarker, Novara (with one Maggiore as head of state), Tranimarker, Trevisomarker.

The same happened in some cities in France, especially in the Mediterranean south, e.g., Avignonmarker, Limogesmarker.

The city-state of Genoamarker, unlike ancient Rome, bestowed the title of Consul on various state officials, not necessarily restricted to the highest. Among these were Genoese officials stationed in various Mediterranean ports, whose role included helping Genoese merchants and sailors in difficulties with the local authorities. This institution, with its name, was eventually emulated by other powers and eventually led to the modern meaning of consul — see Consul .

In England, the clerks of Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester, made a practice of using the Latin word consul rather than the more common comes when translating his title of 'Earl' — though he was not, and made no pretence of being, an elected magistrate of any sort. Modern historians sometimes call him "Robert the Consul", for that reason, though he himself and his contemporaries did not use that name.

Modern republics

French republican consuls

In 1799, revolutionary Francemarker enacted a constitution that conferred supreme executive powers upon three officials that bore the title Consul as chief magistracy of the republic. In reality, however, the state was de facto under personal control of the First Consul, general Napoleon Bonaparte, so in political terms it was more like a re-edition of Julius Caesar's and Octavian's triumvirates.

Originally the consuls were to hold office for a period of ten years, but in 1802 Bonaparte was declared First Consul for life (lifetime consulate was introduced for Second and Third Consuls as well). The French consulate ceased to exist when Bonaparte was declared Emperor of the French in 1804.

Roman republican consuls

The Napoleonic Roman Republic (15 February 1798 – 23 June 1800) was headed by multiple consuls:

  • 15 February – 20 March 1798: (Provisional Consuls) Briganti, Carlo Luigi Costantini, Pio Camillo, duca Bonelli-Crescenzi, Gioacchino Pessuti, Antonio Bassi & Maggi, Stampa & Liborio Angelucci
  • 20 March – September 1798: Liborio Angelucci, Giacomo De Mattheis, Panazzi, Reppi & Ennio Quirino Visconti
  • September – 27 November 1798: Brigi, Calisti, Francesco Pierelli, Giuseppe Rey, Federico Maria Domenico Michele Zaccaleoni
  • 27 November – 12 December 1798: occupation by the Kingdom of Naples
  • 29 November – 12 December 1798: Provisional Government of five (Princes Giambattista Borghese, Paolo-Maria Aldobrandini & Prince Gibrielli, Marchese Camillo Massimo & Giovanni Ricci).
  • 12 December 1798 – 24 July 1799: the previous consuls restored
  • 11 July – 28 September 1799: occupation by France
  • 30 September 1799 – 23 June 1800: occupation by Naples

Bolognese Republic

The short-lived Bolognese Republic, proclaimed in 1796 as a French client republic in the Central Italian city of Bolognamarker, had a government consisting of nine consuls and its head of state was the Presidente del Magistrato, i.e., chief magistrate, a presiding office held for four months by one of the consuls. As noted above, Bologna already had Consuls at some parts of its Medieval history.


In between series of juntas (and various other short-lived regimes), the young republic was governed by "consuls of the republic" in power (2 consuls alternating in power every 4 months):
  • 12 October 1813 – 12 February 1814 José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia y Velasco (1st time)
  • 12 February 1814 – 12 June 1814 Fulgencio Yegros y Franco de Torres
  • 12 June 1814 – 3 October 1814 José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia y Velasco (2nd time); he stayed on as "supreme dictator" 3 October 1814 – 20 September 1840 (from 6 June 1816 styled "perpetual supreme dictator")

After a few presidents of the Provisional Junta, there were again consuls of the republic, 14 March 1841 – 13 March 1844 (ruling jointly, but occasionally styled "first consul", "second consul"): Carlos Antonio López Ynsfrán (b. 1792 – d. 1862) + Mariano Roque Alonzo Romero (d. 1853) (the lasts of the aforementioned juntistas, Commandant-General of the Army)Thereafter all republican rulers were styled "president".

Revolutionary Greece

Among the many petty local republics that were formed during the first year of the Greek Revolution, prior to the creation of a unified Provisional Government at the First National Assembly at Epidaurus, were:
  • The Consulate of Argosmarker (from 26 May 1821, under the Senate of the Peloponnesemarker) had a single head of state, styled consul, 28 March 1821 – 26 May 1821: Stamatellos Antonopoulos
  • The Consulate of East Greece (Livadeiamarker) (from 15 November 1821, under the Areopagus of East Greece) was headed 1 April 1821 – 15 November 1821 by three Consuls: Lambros Nakos, Ioannis Logothetis & Ioannis Filon
Note: in Greek, the term for "consul" is "ypatos", which translates as "supreme one", and hence does not necessarily imply a joint office.

See also

Sources and references

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