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, magistrature
1. the office or function of a magistrate
2. magistrates collectively
3. the district under the jurisdiction of a magistrate
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(1) A state position in ancient Rome. The origin of the magistracy dates to the time of the establishment of the republic (late sixth century B.C.). Initially all magistracies, except those of the plebeian tribunes, were occupied by patricians, but by the early third century B.C. they became accessible to the plebeians as well. The duties of the magistracies were performed without monetary compensation, and they were short-term (as a rule, one year) and collegial (with the exception of the position of dictator). A distinction was made between ordinary magistracies, which were filled by elections, and extraordinary ones, which were filled by appointment. There was also a difference between the higher magistracies, who had the right to perform the higher auspices and who were elected in the centuriate committees, and the lower ones, who were elected in the tribune committees; the higher and lower magistracies worked, correspondingly, in the centuriate and tribune committees.

Higher extraordinary magisterial positions were those of dictator, master of the horse, and decemvir. Ordinary magistracies included the high magistrates (consuls, praetors, and censors) and the lower ones (including the plebeian tribunes, aediles, and quaestors). All magistrates had the power of potestas, that is, the right to issue decrees within the field of their jurisdictions and to impose penalties; the higher magistrates, except for the censors, held the power of life or death (imperium). The magistrates were attended by a retinue of lictors bearing fasces. The law of Villius (Lex Villia annalis; 180 B.C.) established a sequence whereby minimum ages for each magistracy and the progression from one office to the next were set. The colleges of priests were a specific kind of magistracy.

(2) A term used as a synonym for a juridical administration.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Business opportunities also made the magistracies of highland Guatemala quite lucrative.
Suchitepequez, like Soconusco, was a valuable post because of cacao.(55) The secret report of 1738 estimated that the alcalde mayor, whose annual salary was 1,158 pesos, could earn 10,000 pesos from this business, while the corregidor of Chiquimula was thought to earn approximately 6,000 pesos, mostly from the organization of labour drafts for the mines of Tegucigalpa.(56) Least valuable of all the Guatemalan magistracies was Escuintla, where alcaldes mayores found few enterprises worth pursuing.(57)
This was especially true of the magistracies of Sonsonate and San Salvador, in modern-day El Salvador.(58) According to the 1738 report, the alcalde mayor of Sonsonate could earn over 1,000 pesos annually from his businesses, but this undoubtedly underestimates the total.
The magistracies of Honduras and Tegucigalpa, making up modern-day Honduras, while less lucrative than those of highland Guatemala, were also profitable for office-holders.(59) Smuggling opportunities made it worth while to pay large sums to buy the governorship of Honduras, but unfortunately no one at the time reported how much money governors could make illegally.
The rest of the magistracies of the kingdom, in modern-day Nicaragua and Costa Rica, were less lucrative and indeed in some cases were virtually worthless.
Cotton was produced in the valleys and coastal lowlands, especially in Verapaz and in the Nicaraguan magistracies, and transported to highland Guatemala and Chiapa to be made into thread and textiles.
While the Bigallo Captains had a vision of a centralized state whose Florentine magistracies would subdue localities and control marginal groups, the Medici dukes had a vision for personal survival and expanded recognition of their authority through Tuscany.
(9.) Among administrative magistracies, the Pratica and Abbondanza had 8 members, and the Pupilli and Grascia 5.