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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, 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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Ottawa Sun

Toronto Star
Wed, 01 Apr 2015 04:22:25 -0700

MIAMI—Authorities have arrested the 15-year-old son of the Canadian consul general in Miami after they say he was involved in a marijuana deal that ended in gunfire and claimed the life of his older brother and another man. Police believe the teen and ...

Sun Sentinel

Sun Sentinel
Wed, 01 Apr 2015 02:00:00 -0700

Police work the scene at Southwest 36th Avenue and Soutwest 17th Street where at least three people were shot on Monday, March 30, 2015. Police work the scene at Southwest 36th Avenue and Soutwest 17th Street where at least three people were shot ...

Sun Sentinel

Sun Sentinel
Tue, 31 Mar 2015 21:07:30 -0700

Authorities have arrested the 15-year-old son of the Canadian Consul General in Miami after they say he was involved in a marijuana deal that ended in gunfire and claimed the life of his older brother and another man, the Miami Herald reported Tuesday.
Wed, 01 Apr 2015 02:06:03 -0700

The then German honorary consul, Dirk Nauman, said: ''These meetings will be an opportunity for us to express our concerns, and importantly, to listen to the concerns of the Governor. We are also hoping to hear his views on the future development of ...

Royal Gazette

Royal Gazette
Wed, 01 Apr 2015 03:52:30 -0700

Edgar Humann, a Bermuda resident, former French Consul and philanthropist who was the chairman of his family foundation that supported the arts and other charitable endeavours, died on Sunday afternoon. He was 77. Gary Phillips, chairman of the ...

The Daily Courier (subscription)

The Daily Courier (subscription)
Wed, 01 Apr 2015 05:22:30 -0700

MIAMI - Published reports say the 17-year-old son of the Canadian consul general in Miami has been killed and his 15-year-old brother arrested in an apparent marijuana deal that ended in gunfire. The Miami Herald says another man was killed during the ...

The Hindu

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Mon, 30 Mar 2015 17:00:00 -0700

Canadian Consul General Sidney Frank feels the need for more clarity on what would constitute a smart city in India. Yet, the lack of a precise definition should not come in the way of improving the infrastructure. “We don't have a precise definition ...


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