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This article is about the term "Consul". For the office in Ancient Rome, see Roman consul. For other uses, including the office in medieval cities as well as during the French Revolution, see consul (disambiguation).

Consul (abbrev. cos.; Latin plural consules) was the highest elected office of the Roman Republic and an appointive office under the Empire. The title was also used in other city states and also revived in modern states, notably in the First French Republic. The relating adjective is consular, from the Latin consularis.

Modern use of the term[edit]

In modern terminology, a Consul is a type of diplomat. The American Heritage Dictionary defines "Consul" as "an official appointed by a government to reside in a foreign country and represent its interests there." In most governments, the Consul is the head of the Consular Section of an embassy, and is responsible for all consular services such as immigrant and non-immigrant visas, and passports and citizen services for expatriates living or traveling in the host country.

Medieval city states[edit]

The Dukes of Gaeta often used also the title of "Consul" in its Greek form "Hypatos" (see List of Hypati and Dukes of Gaeta).

The city-state of Genoa, 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 later emulated by other powers and is reflected in the modern usage of the word (see Consul (representative)).

French Revolution[edit]

French Republic[edit]

Main article: French Consulate
A portrait of the three Consuls,Jean Jacques Régis de Cambacérès, Napoleon Bonaparte and Charles-François Lebrun (left to right)

After Napoleon Bonaparte staged a coup against the Directory government in November 1799, the French Republic adopted a constitution which conferred executive powers upon three Consuls, elected for a period of ten years. In reality, the First Consul, Bonaparte, dominated his two colleagues and held supreme power, soon making himself Consul for life (1802) and eventually, in 1804, Emperor.

The office was held by:

Roman Republic[edit]

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

  • Francesco Riganti, Carlo Luigi Costantini, Duke Bonelli-Crescenzi, Antonio Bassi, Gioacchino Pessuti, Angelo Stampa, Domenico Maggi, Provisional Consuls (15 February – 20 March 1798)
  • Liborio Angelucci, Giacomo De Mattheis, Panazzi, Reppi, Ennio Quirino Visconti, Consuls (20 March – September 1798)
  • Brigi, Calisti, Francesco Pierelli, Giuseppe Rey, Federico Maria Domenico Michele, Zaccaleoni, Consuls (September – 24 July 1799)

Consular rule was interrupted by the Neapolitan occupation (27 November – 12 December 1798), which installed a Provisional Government:

  • Prince Giambattista Borghese, Prince Paolo-Maria Aldobrandini, Prince Gibrielli, Marchese Camillo Massimo, Giovanni Ricci (29 November 1798 - 12 December 1798)

Rome was occupied by France (11 July – 28 September 1799) and again by Naples (30 September 1799 – 23 June 1800), bringing an end to the Roman Republic.

Bolognese Republic[edit]

The short-lived Bolognese Republic, proclaimed in 1796 as a French client republic in the Central Italian city of Bologna, 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.

Later modern republics[edit]


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".

Other uses in antiquity[edit]

Other city states[edit]

While many cities (as in Gaul) had 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[edit]

It was not uncommon for an organization under Roman private law to copy the terminology of state and city institutions for its own statutory agents. The founding statute, or contract, of such an organisation was called lex, 'law'. The people elected each year were patricians, members of the upper class.

Revolutionary Greece[edit]

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 Argos (from 26 May 1821, under the Senate of the Peloponnese) had a single head of state, styled consul, 28 March 1821 – 26 May 1821: Stamatellos Antonopoulos
  • The Consulate of East Greece (Livadeia) (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 "hypatos" (ὕπατος), which translates as "supreme one", and hence does not necessarily imply a joint office.

See also[edit]

Differently named, but same function

Modern UN System

Roman Empire

Sources and references[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consul — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
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403258 news items

Scoop.co.nz (press release)
Sat, 28 Feb 2015 16:00:00 -0800

PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi conducted separate meetings with American Consul General Michael Ratney and French Consul General Hervé Magro. In her meetings, Dr. Ashrawi provided an assessment of the latest developments ...
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Sat, 28 Feb 2015 22:56:15 -0800

Illegal immigrants seeking protection under a pair of programs recently suspended by the courts have no reason for concern said the Mexican consul in Del Rio. However, for the time being, the consul warns the Mexican community from seeking any ...

Huffington Post

Huffington Post
Fri, 27 Feb 2015 13:00:00 -0800

The esteemed president did, however, help their families and others through his leadership and position as U.S. Consul. As a result, Hunt's standing reached new heights during the war. His influence served to cement rugby's place amongst the Stéphanois.
Undercurrent News
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 09:43:38 -0800

Thierry Chopin, a scientist pioneering Cooke Aquaculture's launch into multi-species aquaculture, is set to receive a medal of honor from the Consul General of France in the Atlantic provinces, Vincent Hommeril. Homeric will award a medal of the order ...

Palestine News Network

WAFA - Palestine News Agency
Sat, 28 Feb 2015 04:33:45 -0800

“We stand with all those, including the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, in strongly condemning these crimes of hate,” stressed a statement by U.S. Consul General Michael Ratney. Following a visit to the torched sites, Ratney said ...


Fri, 27 Feb 2015 01:00:00 -0800

The consul general of Kuwait in Ho Chi Minh City has hailed trade relations between his country and Vietnam, expressing his strong belief that Kuwaiti investment in the Southeast Asian nation will be beefed up in the coming time. Trade between Kuwait ...

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Fri, 27 Feb 2015 01:00:00 -0800

Commenting on the burning of a Greek Orthodox seminary in Jerusalem, Dr. Alastair McPhail, British Consul General, said: "I was horrified to hear of the unacceptable burning of the Greek Orthodox seminary in Jerusalem this morning. This is the second ...

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Fri, 20 Feb 2015 20:12:31 -0800

The consul of Mexico in Seattle, Eduardo Baca Cuenca, made a special trip to Pasco on Friday to meet with family members and community leaders. He joined the Franklin County prosecutor, police chief and city manager to discuss the ongoing investigation ...

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