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A promagistrate (lat. Pro magistratu , dt. Instead of a magistrate ) was an office holder who acted with the authority and ability to act, the imperium , of a magistrate , without holding an office himself.

Development in the Roman Republic

The Promagistrate was introduced as a legal innovation of the Roman Republic to provide Rome with governors for provinces and to end wars instead of electing new officials or sending another general every year. Promagistrates were appointed by a resolution of the Roman Senate , the senatus consultum . Like all decisions of the Senate, these could be rejected by the Comitia , as the example of the replacement of Quintus Caecilius Metellus Numidicus by Gaius Marius in the Jugurthin War shows.

A promagistrate was usually either a proquaestor (who acted in place of a quaestor ), a propaetor (who acted in place of a praetor ) or a proconsul (who acted in place of a consul ). A promagistrate had the same authority as a comparable magistrate, was accompanied by the same number of lictors , and generally had authority within its province. Promagistrates had usually already held the office they were replacing, although this was not mandatory. When Pompey was given proconsular power to fight Quintus Sertorius , the Senate made it clear that he had not actually been made a promagistrate. He was appointed not to act in the place of a consul (pro consule) but in the name of the consuls (pro consulibus) .

Later developments

Due to the almost limitless power of high-ranking promagistrates, high-ranking officials are now called proconsul who rule a territory without regard to local political institutions, i.e. are not elected and displace the local authorities. One of the most prominent examples of this is Douglas MacArthur , who was given enormous power after World War II to reform Japan and initiate the restoration of the country. He was occasionally referred to as the American proconsul of Japan .

Individual evidence

  1. Jochen Bleicken: The Constitution of the Roman Republic , p. 93 ff.
  2. Article: Annoying Legacy in Der Spiegel from April 15, 1959.


Web links

Wiktionary: Promagistrat  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations