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The procurator from Jost Amman's book of estates (1568)

Prokurator ( Latin procurator ) is an official designation inherited from the Roman legal and political system , which was used in various historical epochs and contexts as a title for certain functionaries or employees in property or state administration or in the administration of justice and in some cases still lives on today .

Concept history

The word procurator is derived from the Latin verb procurare , which means something like “to get” or “to take care of something”. In the original meaning is a procurator someone of another cares behalf or on behalf of its affairs or companies, so an authorized representative, Geschäftsbesorger , manager or administrator. In this function, he enjoys particular trust and is usually equipped with power of representation in order to be able to act on behalf of his principal or client. This basic meaning also lives on in modern Italian , where procuratore still means “ authorized representative ” in the main meaning . In this sense, the term is also alive in the German legal term “ Prokurist ”.

If the person represented, for whom the procurator has to appear, is the ruler , a public institution or organization or even the state itself, the procurator gains a public-law function vis-à-vis the general public as a representative of the authorities or the community , thus becoming a Officials . This explains the frequent history of the designation of certain public officials of the executive power as procurators.

Roman Empire

In the Roman Empire , a procurator was originally a slave or freedman who administered his property (such as country estates, farms, money or other property) on behalf of his master or patron . With this meaning, the term is still used in relation to private persons in the imperial era .

From the position of the procurators of Augustus , in view of the increasing amalgamation of the imperial private fortune (→ Fiscus ) with the state funds, an office developed that over the course of time gained public importance and also extended to matters that went beyond the mere administration of property and goods . Procurators gradually took over important government offices and were, for example, for finances ( a rationibus ), for the imperial chancellery ( from epistulis Latinis or from epistulis Graecis , i.e. Latin or Greek correspondence) or for the handling of supplicants ( a libellis , i.e. petitions ) responsible. Increasingly, members of the equestrian order had access to these well-paid positions .

The imperial procurators were formally not magistrate officials , but personal agents of the emperor, and were in principle paid from his private assets. According to the amount of their salary they were divided into classes of rank; so were procuratores sexagenarii 60,000 sesterces annually centenarii 100,000 sesterces ducenarii 200,000 sesterces trecenarii etc. 300,000 sesterces. Many procurators fulfill different functions one by one and then went up into ranks.

In most of the provinces there was a chivalrous procurator (independent of the governors who came from the senatorial class ) who was responsible for collecting and paying the province's tax revenue. Since the state reforms of Emperor Claudius , some smaller areas, which were not yet included in the actual provincial administration, were also administered directly by a procurator who took the place of the knightly governor, previously known as praefectus civitatis .

In addition, specialized procurators were e.g. B. responsible for the income from mines or exercised certain functions in the municipal administration of Rome ; so was z. B. the procurator aquarum as managing administrator under the supervision of the corresponding senatorial official ( curator aquarum ) responsible for the Roman water supply.

middle Ages

Tiepolo: The procurator of San Marco Daniele IV. Dolfin, around 1750

In the Middle Ages and in the early modern period, the Chamber Procurator or Chamber Fiscal Office was a sovereign ministerial or official who had to represent the interests of the “chamber” (the finances of the sovereign , i.e. the tax authorities ), including at courts .

Republic of Venice

In the Republic of Venice , the procurators were the asset managers of the Serenissima , more precisely: the administrators of the treasure of St. Mark . They had their official seat in the procuraties . After the Doge, they were the highest officials in the Republic of Mark and were the only ones elected for life like him. They were very respected, were addressed with the title " Excellence " and had the suffix proc . Numerous Doges of Venice had held the office of procurator before their election.

The first procurator can be proven in a document from 1151 and was probably entrusted with the tasks of financing the new building of St. Mark's Basilica to relieve Doge Domenico I. Contarini . The Grand Council increased the number of procurators to two on March 14, 1231, a third was elected in 1259/60, four since 1261 or 1266/67, six since 1319, and finally nine since 1442. In addition, there were an increasing number of honorary procurators (up to 25 in the 18th century) who were elected after paying enormous sums of money.

The powers of the procurators were divided with increasing numbers: Procuratori di sopra were for the property of San Marco and the Campanile , procuratori di citra for the Sestieri Cannaregio , Castello and San Marco and the procuratori di ultra for the Sestieri Dorsoduro , San Polo and Santa Croce in charge.

As St. Mark's asset managers, they were in fact Chancellor of the Exchequer and state bankers , executors and asset managers of orphaned minor nobili and widows who had no male guardian in the family. The funds came from public and private donations, inheritances and current income from properties that belonged to St. Mark's Treasure. This was used to finance public buildings, welfare institutions (hospitals, alms distribution, shelters for the homeless, old people's and orphanages and also a type of social housing). Late 16th century had the procurators 200 case (meaning probably more residential units, fewer homes) for the needy. However, real estate was also rented for commercial purposes, e.g. B. Apartments and shops in the old proxy offices on the north side of St. Mark's Square. From 1582 the New Procuraties were built on the south side of St. Mark's Square as the new office of the Procurators.

By royal decree of July 9, 1931, the office of procurators of St. Mark was re-established in Venice. The seven Procuratori di San Marco manage the St Mark's treasure today on behalf of the Venetian Patriarch and are responsible for the preservation and restoration of the works of art and the building.

Administration of justice

English barrister (procurator), around 1900

With the reception of Roman law in Europe since the High Middle Ages, court proceedings were professionalized and functions were created that were occupied by trained lawyers . Here, a profession of professional lawyers developed who represented a party in negotiations before the court, the so-called procurators . In addition, there were other lawyers, the so-called advocates , who maintained contact with the person seeking justice, advised the clients and also provided legal support for them in out-of-court transactions. The formal separation between the lawyers as legal advisors and the procurators as the procedural representatives of the parties, however, often only existed in this severity before the highest courts, in Germany for example before the Reichshofrat or the Reichskammergericht . Since the end of the 16th century, this dichotomy in the legal profession in continental Europe has been loosened and eliminated in large parts of Europe with the legal reforms in Napoleonic times.

The two-part system still exists in Spain today , where the traditional terms “advocate” ( abogado ) and “procurator” ( procurador ) continue, as well as in the legal system in England , Wales and other Commonwealth countries, which is shaped by the legal tradition of common law . Here the lawyers are called “ Solicitor ”, the procurators “ Barrister ”. The same applies to Italy, where the procurator ( procuratore , "defense counsel") and the lawyer ( avvocato , "defense counsel") each have separate procedural roles. However, the practical significance of this separation is little, and both roles are often performed by a single legal advisor or by the same law firm.

Since the 19th century, the term procurator has also been used as a general term for legal functionaries in the legal system. For example - depending on the legal system - lawyers, legal representatives, but also public prosecutors , prosecutors or general prosecutors are referred to as procurators or general procurators (Brazil, France, Canada, Austria ...) in some countries .


In Austria the highest authority of the public prosecutor's office is called General Prokuratur . However, it is not directly superordinate to the other public prosecutor's offices (district, public and senior public prosecutor's office), but performs the tasks of a general prosecutor's office. The head of the authority is the General Procurator, his deputies are called First Advocates General. The other members of the General Procuratorate are the Advocates General. The General Procuratorate oversees the administration of justice by the public prosecutor, but is not the point of contact for complaints.

In Austria there is also the Financial Procuratorate . This is mainly responsible for the defense of the Republic of Austria before the civil courts.

Canon Law

In religious communities , a procurator is usually referred to as a member of the order appointed by the superior who administers the assets of the community and has power of attorney (power of attorney) vis-à-vis third parties over the finances of the monastery , the community or the religious province (depending on the community, this office is also economist , Cellerar , Kellerer , administrator or simply manager called). A mission procurator administers donations that flow into the mission , monitors the projects financed with them and gives an account of the use of funds.

In addition, various officials who manage assets or exercise certain functions on behalf of another can be designated as procurators in the church sector. In the Roman Catholic area, the Latin term procurator in the Codex Iuris Canonici , the code of canon law of the Latin Church , is used in general in the sense of a representative, deputy or agent.


  • G. Buchda: Lawyer . In: Concise dictionary on German legal history . Volume 1, Col. 182ff.
  • Davide Faoro: Praefectus, procurator, praeses. Genesi delle cariche presidiali equestri nell'Alto Impero Romano . Le Monnier Universita et al., Firenze et al. 2011, ISBN 978-88-00-74064-7 .
  • Hans-Georg Pflaum : Les procurateurs équestres sous le haut-empire romain . Librairie d'Amérique et d'Orient A. Maisonneuve, Paris 1950.
  • Hans-Georg Pflaum: Les carrières procuratoriennes équestres sous le haut-empire romain . 5 volumes. Geuthner, Paris 1960–1982.
  • Christoph Schäfer : Top management in the republic and imperial times. The procurators of private individuals in the Imperium Romanum from the 2nd century BC. BC to the 3rd century AD. Scripta-Mercaturae-Verlag, St. Katharinen 1998, ISBN 3-89590-063-X .
  • W. Sellert: Procurator . In: Concise dictionary on German legal history . Volume 3, Col. 2032.

Individual evidence

  1. Corinna Fritsch: St. Mark's in Venice cult. Symbolic forms of political trade in the Middle Ages and early modern times . Berlin 2001, p. 264 ff.
  2. ^ Heinrich Kretschmayr: History of Venice . Volume 2, Gotha 1920, p. 578 ( digitized version )