Stratarches (Greek: στρατάρχης, pl. στρατάρχαι (archaic) or στρατάρχες (modern)), means ruler of the army in Greek, and is a title associated with successful generals. In modern Greek usage, it corresponds to the rank of Field Marshal.
The term originated in the Byzantine Empire, where, in the 9th to 11th centuries, the stratarchai were a class of senior officials in charge of military finances and administration, including the hetaireiarches (commander of the mercenary guards), the droungarios of the Imperial Fleet, the logothetes ton agelon who supervised the army's horse-breeding farms, the komēs tou staulou (Count of the Stable) and the protospatharios of the basilikoi anthropoi. By the late 11th century, this technical meaning was forgotten, and the term stratarches, along with variants such as megas stratarches and panstratarches, came to be used as an honorific epithet for important generals. In this use it is for instance used to describe the famed literary hero Digenis Akritas, or famous past commanders, such as Belisarius.
In modern Greek history, the title (modern phonetic transliteration: stratarchis) retains the connotation of a victorious commander, and has been used unofficially for the two most successful Greek field commanders of the Greek War of Independence: Theodoros Kolokotronis in the Morea (Peloponnese) and Georgios Karaiskakis in Roumeli (Central Greece). As a technical term, it is also used to render in Greek the rank and dignity of Field Marshal.
In this capacity, the rank was first awarded to King Constantine I in 1913, following the victorious Balkan Wars. It was awarded again to his son, King George II, in 1939, and was held by his successors, Paul and Constantine II up to the abolition of the Greek monarchy in 1973–74. Apart from the reigning monarchs, only one professional officer has been awarded the rank: General Alexandros Papagos, who was awarded it on 28 October 1949 in recognition of his services during the Greco-Italian War and the Greek Civil War.
In addition, Lieutenant General Theodoros Grivas was bestowed the rank on 23 October 1862 for his leadership in the revolt that led to the ousting of King Otto, but died the following day, before it could be conferred to him in person.
The rank of Stratarchis has not been retained by the current Third Hellenic Republic.