"government by a protector," 1690s, in reference to the government by the Cromwells as Lords Protector (1653-59), from protector + -ate (1). Protectorship was used in 1456 in reference to the office of the Duke of York as protector during the mental incapacity of Henry VI.
From 1795 as "occupied territory of another nation;" by 1836 as "a relation assumed by a stronger nation (generally European) toward a weak one," "whereby the former protects the latter from hostile invasion or dictation, and interferes more or less in its domestic concerns" [Century Dictionary]. Extended by 1860 to "state or territory (usually tribal) placed under the protection of a major power."
updated on December 19, 2020