1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Commissary

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COMMISSARY (from Med. Lat. commissarius, one to whom a charge or trust is committed), generally, a representative; e.g., the emperor’s representative who presided in his absence over the imperial diet; and especially, an ecclesiastical official who exercises in special circumstances the jurisdiction of a bishop (q.v.); in the Church of England this jurisdiction is exercised in a Consistory Court (q.v.), except in Canterbury, where the court of the diocesan as opposed to the metropolitan jurisdiction of the archbishop is called a commissary court, and the judge is the commissary general of the city and diocese of Canterbury. When a see is vacant the jurisdiction is exercised by a “special commissary” of the metropolitan. Commissary is also a general military term for an official charged with the duties of supply, transport and finance of an army. In the 17th and 18th centuries the commissaire des guerres, or Kriegskommissär was an important official in continental armies, by whose agency the troops, in their relation to the civil inhabitants, were placed upon semi-political control. In French military law, commissaires du gouvernement represent the ministry of war on military tribunals, and more or less correspond to the British judge-advocate (see Court-Martial).