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In the ancient Roman republic, a consul whose powers had been extended for a definite period beyond his regular one-year term. These extensions were necessitated by such events as long periods of war. The extension of a chief magistrate's term was originally voted by the people, but the power was soon assumed by the Senate. Provincial governors were usually magistrates whose terms had been extended. Under the empire (after 27 BC), governors of senatorial provinces were called proconsuls.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on proconsul, visit Britannica.com.