The word generalissimo (pronounced [dʒeneraˈlissimo]), an Italian term, is the absolute superlative of generale ('general') thus meaning "the highest-ranking of all generals". The superlative suffix -issimo itself derives from Latin -issimus, meaning "utmost, to the highest grade". Similar cognates in other languages include generalísimo in Spanish, generalíssimo in Portuguese, généralissime in French, and generalissimus in Latin.
Historically this rank was given to a military officer leading an entire army or the entire armed forces of a state, usually only subordinate to the sovereign. The military leader Albrecht von Wallenstein in 1632 was the first imperial generalissimo (general of the generals). Other usage of the rank has been for the commander of the united armies of several allied powers and if a senior military officer becomes the head of state or head of government of a nation like Chiang Kai-Shek in China and later in Taiwan, and Francisco Franco in Spain.
The rank generalissimus of the Soviet Union would have been a generalissimo but some sources assert that Joseph Stalin refused to accept the rank. In fact the grade was established by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet which did not need the "approval" of Stalin. The rank of generalissimo for Stalin was used also by Western diplomacy.
In the 20th century, the term came to be associated with military officers who took dictatorial power in their countries, especially due to the Spanish Francisco Franco having this rank. As such, it is used in literature depicting fictional Latin American dictatorial regimes, for example Father Hilary's Holiday by Bruce Marshall.
List of generalissimos
|Chiang Kai-shek||National Revolutionary Army||Republic of China||1926-1975||Appointed commander in chief of the Nationalist Army for the Northern Expedition. In 1935 was appointed "general special class" (特級上將 Tèjí shàng jiàng).|
|Joseph Joffre||French Army||France||1914||His dignity (rank) was Marshal of France, but his title as commander-in-chief of the French Army was généralissime.|
|Alexander Danilovich Menshikov||Russian Imperial Army||Russian Empire||1727–1728|||
|Duke Anthony Ulrich of Brunswick||Russian Imperial Army||Russian Empire||1740–1741|||
|Alexander Suvorov||Russian Imperial Army||Russian Empire||1799|
|Ferdinand Foch||French Army||France||1918||Généralissime was the title used to describe Ferdinand Foch's Allied Command, starting March 26, 1918. He actually held the rank cof général de division, the dignity (rank) of Marshal of France and later the ranks of British field marshal and marshal of Poland.|
|Maurice Gamelin||French Army||France||1939||His rank was général d'armée, but his title as commander-in-chief of the French Armed Forces was généralissime.|
|Maxime Weygand||French Army||France||1940||His rank was général d'armée, but his title as commander-in-chief of the French Armed Forces was généralissime.|
|Francisco de Miranda||Venezuelan Army||Venezuela||1812|
|Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla||Revolutionary Army of Mexico||América Mexicana||1810– 1811|||
|José María Morelos||Revolutionary Army of Mexico||América Mexicana||1813–1815|||
|Agustín de Iturbide||Mexican Army||América Mexicana||1821–1823|||
|Máximo Gómez||Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces||Cuba||1895–1898|||
|José de San Martín||Peruvian Army||Peru||1821–1822||Generalísimo de las Armas del Perú|
|Francisco Franco||Spanish Armed Forces||Spain||1936–1975||Generalísimo, was used as a combination rank as he held the highest possible rank in all three branches of service. capitán general, capitán general del Aire, capitán general de la Armada.|
|Emilio Aguinaldo||Philippine Revolutionary Army||Philippines||1898–1901||Generalissimo of the Katipunan|
|Ihsan Nuri||Ararat Forces||Kurdish Republic of Ararat||1927–1930|||
|William, Count of Schaumburg-Lippe||Royal Portuguese Army||Portugal||1762–1763||William became Generalissimus of the Allied Armies in Portugal during the Spanish Invasion.|
|Prince Consort Frederick of Hesse||Royal Swedish Army||Sweden||1716–1720||Fredrick was named Generalissimo of the Swedish Armed Forces in 1716 by King Charles XII.|
|Crown Prince Charles John||Royal Swedish Army||Sweden||1810–1818||Named Generalissimo of the Swedish Armed Forces on October 20, 1810, upon his arrival to Sweden. Charles John had the singular distinction of having been offered the role of Generalissimo of four different nations: Sweden (accepted), Imperial Russia, offered by Alexander during the Conference at Åbo in 1812, of a restored Bourbon France in 1814 (offered by Louis XVIII's brother the Comte D'Artois), and a desperate offer by Napoleon in early 1814 as an inducement for Sweden to switch its alliance to France. Charles John declined the latter three.[Note 1]|
|Joseph Stalin||Soviet Armed Forces||Soviet Union||1945||Generalissimus of the Soviet Union (declined usage)|
|Jang Do-young||Republic of Korea Army||South Korea||1961||Chairman of the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction, Army Chief of Staff Jang Do-Young was appointed as a figurehead for the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction which had overthrown the Second Republic of Korea in the May 16 Coup. Jang served as the Chairman of the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction of the Republic of Korea (대한민국의 국가재건최고회의 의장) but was quickly deposed by Major General Park Chung Hee, the main instigator of the coup because Jang desired a restoration of civilian rule once the military restored order.|
|Park Chung Hee||Republic of Korea Army||South Korea||1961-1963||Chairman of the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction, Major General Park Chung Hee was the main instigator of the military forces that overthrew the Second Republic of Korea in the May 16 Coup. Initially serving as Vice Chairman, he later deposed General Jang, who had been the figurehead behind the military junta and declared himself Chairman of the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction of the Republic of Korea (대한민국의 국가재건최고회의 의장). He ruled Korea through a military junta until 1963, when he was inaugurated as President following the 1963 South Korean presidential election.|
|Kim Il-sung||Korean People's Army||North Korea||1992||Taewonsu|
|Kim Jong-il||Korean People's Army||North Korea||2012||Taewonsu (posthumously awarded)|
|Yeon Gaesomun||Military history of Korea||Goguryeo||642-665||Dae Magniji, overthrew Yeongnyu of Goguryeo and placed Bojang of Goguryeo, the nephew of Yeongnyu as his puppet and declared himself Dae Magniji (대막리지; 大莫離支) |
|Yeon Namsaeng||Military history of Korea||Goguryeo||665-666||Dae Magniji, succeeded his father Yeon Gaesomun, but was overthrown by his brother Yeon Nam-geon|
|Yeon Nam-geon||Military history of Korea||Goguryeo||666-668||Dae Magniji, overthrew his brother Yeon Namsaeng and was the last Generalissimo of Goguryeo before it fell against the Tang-Silla Alliance |
|Rafael Trujillo||Dominican Army||Dominican Republic||1930|||
|Sun Yat-sen||National Revolutionary Army – Warlord Era (Northern Expedition)||Republic of China||1921||Technically as da yuan shuai or "grand marshal of the army and navy"|
|Albrecht von Wallenstein||Thirty Years' War||Holy Roman Empire via the "Principal Decree of the Imperial Deputation"||1625|||
|Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg||Austrian Army||Austrian Empire||1813–1814||Generalissimo of the Armies of the Habsburg Empire and senior Field Marshal of the combined forces of the Sixth Coalition. He led the largest Allied field army, the Army of Bohemia, during the Battle of Leipzig in 1813 and the Invasion of France in early 1814.|
|John J. Pershing||United States Army||United States of America||1919||Promoted to General of the Armies of the United States on September 3, 1919.|
|Mao Zedong||People's Liberation Army||People's Republic of China||1955||Proposed the rank of Generalissimo of the People's Republic of China (declined usage)|
|John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough||War of the Spanish Succession||Dutch Republic||1702||Referred to as generalissimo by the Dutch States General.|
|Prince George of Denmark||British Army||Kingdom of Great Britain||1702–1708||Declared "generalissimo of all our Forces within Our Kingdom of England and Ireland and Elsewhere" by his wife Queen Anne|
|James, Duke of York||Third Anglo-Dutch War||Kingdom of England||1673||"Generalissimo and supreme commander' over forces employed against the Dutch.|
|Louis Dauphin of France||War of the Spanish Succession||France||1708||Commanded French Army|
|George Washington||Continental Army
United States Army
|United States of America||1776||When chosen to be the commander-in-chief, was called by the Virginia Gazette the generalissimo of the American forces. Promoted posthumously to General of the Armies of the United States on January 19, 1976, with date of rank of July 4, 1976.|
|Deodoro da Fonseca||Brazilian Army||Brazil||1890|||
|Kalākaua||Hawaiian Army||Kingdom of Hawaii||1886–1891||King of Hawaii, was given titles of "supreme commander and generalissimo of the Hawaiian Army".|
|Zhang Zuolin||National Pacification Army||Republic of China (1912–1949)||1927–1928||Leader of the Beiyang government, declared generalissimo (da yuan shuai) in June 1927|
|Hirohito (Emperor Shōwa)||Armed Forces of the Empire of Japan||Empire of Japan||1926–1945||Dai-gensui, as sovereign ruler of the Empire of Japan|
Emilio Aguinaldo, First President of the Philippines.
Albrecht von Wallenstein (1625), the first generalissimo
- Capo dei capi
- Grand marshal
- Da yuan shuai
- Field marshal
- General of the Armies
- Generalissimus of the Soviet Union
- Highest military ranks
- Six-star rank
- The Napoleonic Marshal of France Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, Prince of Ponte Corvo, was elected Crown Prince of Sweden by the Riksdag of the Estates and King Charles XIII in 1810. Given his exalted French military rank, the rank of generalissimus was likely granted him in order to give him precedence over "mere" Swedish field marshals. Once he became King of Sweden and Norway in 1818, the generalissimus rank became superfluous.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica: Or, A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Miscellaneous Literature, Enlarged and Improved. Archibald Constable. 1823. pp. 484.
- "Webster's Third New International Dictionary". Webster's Third New International Dictionary., French Larousse Étymologique.
- "Online Etymology Dictionary". Online Etymology Dictionary.
- "Define Generalissimo at Dictionary.com". Reference.com.
- "Generalissimo – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Merriam-Webster.
- "Definition of generalissimo – Oxford Dictionaries (British & World English)". Oxford Dictionary of English. Archived from the original on July 29, 2012.
- Thomas Hobbes (1660), Chapter XVIII: Of the Rights of Sovereigns by institution, retrieved August 16, 2015
- Service, Robert (2005). Stalin: A Biography. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. p. 548. ISBN 978-0-674-01697-2.
- S. M. Shtemenko. The General Staff in the War Years. Moskva 1985. Vietnamese version (vol. 2) . pp. 587–588.
- Сборник законов СССР и Указов Президиума Верховного Совета СССР (1938 — июль 1956) / Сост.: М. И. Юмашев, Б. А. Жалейко. — М., 1956. — С. 202.
- "Generalissimo Stalin (Hansard, 7 November 1945)".
- Marshall, B: Father Hilary's Holiday Doubleday & Company, New York 1965.
- The New York Times, December 4, 1926, pg.6.
- Doughty, Robert A. (June 30, 2009). Pyrrhic Victory: French Strategy and Operations in the Great War. Harvard University Press. p. 232. ISBN 978-0-674-03431-0.
- "Menschikow und Stalin waren die einzigen Heerführer der russischen Geschichte, die sich 'Generalissimus' nennen ließen." [Menshikov and Stalin were the only military leaders in Russian history who declared themselves "generalissimus".] Jena, Detlev (1996): Die russischen Zaren in Lebensbildern, Graz, p. 520.
- "Portrait of Prince Anton Ulrich von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (1714-1774)". hermitagemuseum.org. 2023. Retrieved January 14, 2023.
- John McGroarty :The Gray Man of Christ: Generalissimo Foch (1919) Los Angeles, Walter A Abbott
- Comunica Miguel Hidalgo su proclamaci n como General simo de Am rica. Documentos Historicos de Mexico, October 24, 1810.
- "Inauguration of the exhibition José María Morelos y Pavón. Generalissimo of Mexican America armies". Gobierno de México (in Spanish). Noticias – Dirección General de Asuntos internacionales – Secretaría de Cultura. Retrieved July 3, 2022.
- Anna, Timothy E. (1985). "The Rule of Agustin de Iturbide: A Reappraisal". Journal of Latin American Studies. 17 (1): 79–110. doi:10.1017/S0022216X00009202. ISSN 0022-216X. JSTOR 157498. S2CID 145054515.
- Rioseco, Pedro. "Generalísimo Máximo Gómez, ejemplo de internacionalismo y genio militar". Contraloría General de la República (in Spanish). Retrieved September 16, 2022.
- "Franco of Iberia". Time, October 18, 1943. cover.
- Whitefield, George. "Annual report of Major General George W. Davis, United States Army commanding Division of the Philippines from October 1, 1902, to July 26, 1903" (1903) [Textual record]. Archive.Org, ID: annualreportofma03unit, p. 188. Boston Public Library. OCLC 1039990497.
- Bletch Chirguh, La Question Kurde: ses origines et ses causes, Le Caire, Impimerie Paul Barbey, 1930, front cover, Ihsan Nouri Pacha Généralissime des forces nationales Kurdes (in French)
- Pock, Johann Joseph (1724). Der politische, katholische Passagier, durchreisend alle hohe Höfe, Republiquen, Herrschafften und Länder der ganzen Welt. Brechenmacher. p. 832. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
wurde 1720. von dem König in Schweden ... zum Generalissimo der sämmtlichen Schwedischen Trouppen ernennet
- Barton, Sir Dunbar (1925). Bernadotte Prince and King. P. 39. John Murray, London.
- Barton, Sir Dunbar (1925). Bernadotte Prince and King. P. 127. John Murray, London.
- Scott, Franklin (1935). Bernadotte and the Fall of Napoleon. P. 153. Harvard University Press, Cambridge.
- (in Swedish) Ancienneté och Rang-Rulla öfver Krigsmagten år 1813
- Barton, Sir Dunbar (1925). Bernadotte Prince and King. P. 4. John Murray, London.
- Joseph Stalin was appointed generalissimus of the Soviet Union. See: Ivan Aleksandrovich Venediktov, Selskokhozyaystvennaya entsiklopediya, Vol. 4, Gos. izd-vo selkhoz, 1956, p. 584. (in Russian)
- "CURENT[sic] SITUATION IN SOUTH KOREA - CIA FOIA (foia.cia.gov)". www.cia.gov. Archived from the original on January 1, 2023. Retrieved November 30, 2019.
- Kim, Byung-Kook; Vogel, Ezra (2011). The Park Chung Hee Era: The Transformation of South Korea. Harvard University Press. p. 89.
- "The Daily Yomuiri, 29 September 2010, Kim Jong Un spotlighted / 'Heir apparent' promoted to general, makes DPRK media debut". Archived from the original on October 2, 2010. Retrieved September 30, 2010.
- "Late North Korean Leader Promoted to Generalissimo". Voice of America. February 14, 2012.
- "The Australian, 15 February 2012, Late Kim Jong-il awarded highest honour by North". Archived from the original on February 17, 2012. Retrieved February 15, 2012.
- Kim, Jinwung (2012). A History of Korea: From "Land of the Morning Calm" to States in Conflict. Indiana University Press. pp. 50–51.
- Jeong, Su-Il (2016). The Silk Road Encyclopedia.
- Stanley Walker, Generalissimo Rafael L. Trujillo (1955) Caribbean Library
- Linda Pomerantz-Zhang (1992). Wu Tingfang (1842–1922): Reform and Modernization in Modern Chinese History. Hong Kong University Press. p. 255. ISBN 962209287X. Retrieved October 31, 2010.
- Taylor, Jay (April 15, 2009). The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the struggle for modern China. Harvard University Press. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-674-05471-4. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
- A short history of Germany. Ernest Flagg Henderson, 1908
- Tilly und Wallenstein – ein Vergleich zweier Heerführer. Harry Horstmann, 2010. (in German)
- Peck, Harry Thurston (1898). The International Cyclopedia: A Compendium of Human Knowledge, Rev. with Large Additions. Dodd, Mead. p. 238.
- Public Law 66-45 of September 3, 1919, to revive the office of General of the Armies
- Rapin de Thoyras (M., Paul) (1745). Nicholas Tindal (ed.). The History of England. Vol. IV, part 1 (French original: Histoire d'Angleterre, 1724–27). J. and P. Knapton. p. 562. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
The Earl of Athlone [Godard van Reede] was set on by the other Dutch Generals, to insist on his quality of Velt-Marshal, and to have the command with the Earl of Marlborough by turns. But, though he was now in high reputation by his late conduct, the States obliged him to yield this point to the Earl of Marlborough, whom they declared Generalissimo of all their forces, and sent orders to all their Generals and other Officers to obey him.
- Roper, Michael (1998). The Records of the War Office and Related Departments, 1660–1964. Kew, Surrey: Public Record Office. p. 5.
- Rapin de Thoyras (M., Paul) (1745). Nicholas Tindal (ed.). The History of England. Vol. IV, part 1 (French original: Histoire d'Angleterre, 1724–27). J. and P. Knapton. p. 104. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
The Prince was Duke of Cumberland, Lord High-Admiral of Great-Britain and Ireland, Generalissimo of all her Majesty's forces both by sea and land, and Warden of the Cinque-ports.
- Rapin de Thoyras (M., Paul) (1745). Nicholas Tindal (ed.). The History of England. Vol. IV, part 1 (French original: Histoire d'Angleterre, 1724–27). J. and P. Knapton. p. 68. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
But an unexpected alteration was suddenly made, and the French King declared the Duke of Burgundy Generalissimo of his forces, appointing the Duke de Vendosme [sic: Vendôme] to serve under him; and he was to be accompanied by the Duke of Berry.
- Chadwick, Bruce (2005). George Washington's War: The Forging of a Revolutionary Leader and the American Presidency. Sourcebooks, Inc. p. 40. ISBN 9781402226106. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
- Public Law 94-479 of January 19, 1976 to provide for the appointment of George Washington to the grade of General of the Armies of the United States
- Andermann, Jens; Rowe, William (2006). Images of Power: Iconography, Culture and the State in Latin America. Berghahn Books. p. 176. ISBN 9781845452124.
- Chapter XXII: Act Act To Organize The Military Forces Of The Kingdom. Laws of His Majesty Kalakaua, King of the Hawaiian Islands: Passed by the Legislative Assembly at Its Session of 1886. Honolulu: Black & Auld. 1886. pp. 37–41. OCLC 42350849.
- Moore, Frederick (June 18, 1927). "Chang Tso-lin Made Dictator in Move to Beat Back South". The New York Times. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
- Bix, Herbert P. (October 13, 2009). Hirohito And The Making Of Modern Japan. Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-06-186047-8.