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Taxiarch, the anglicized form of taxiarchos or taxiarchēs (Greek: ταξίαρχος or ταξιάρχης) is used in the Greek language to mean "brigadier". The term derives from táxis, "order", in military context "an ordered formation". In turn, the rank has given rise to the Greek term for brigade, taxiarchia. In Greek Orthodox Church usage, the term is also applied to the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, as leaders of the heavenly host, and several locations in Greece are named after them.
In Ancient Greece the title/rank was held by a number of officers in the armies of several but not all city-states, with Sparta being a notable exception. In Classical Athens, there were ten taxiarchs, one for each of the city's tribes (phylai), a subordinate to the respective strategos. The perhaps most famous taxiarchs however were those of the ancient Macedonian Pezhetairoi infantry.
The term first appears in use in the Byzantine army in the late 6th-century Strategikon of emperor Maurice, where it is reserved for the commander of the elite Optimatoi mercenary corps. In the 10th-century, the term was revived and refers to the commander of one of the new type of infantry brigade (taxiarchia), composed of 500 heavy infantry, 300 archers and 200 light infantry. On account of their numerical size, these units were also known as chiliarchia, and their commander correspondingly as chiliarchos, and are also equated to the thematic droungos under a droungarios. During the 11th century, with the demise of the thematic armies, the rank rose in importance, and eventually surpassed and replaced that of tourmarches, so that in the Komnenian-era army, the taxiarchia was the largest-scale permanent infantry formation.
In the modern Hellenic Army the rank of Taxiarchos (abbreviated Ταξχος) is equivalent to Brigadier General with a NATO Code OF-6. The rank was introduced in the Greek military by Royal Decree on 5 June 1946, and the insignia instituted later in the same year. It is superior to a Syntagmatarchis (Colonel) and inferior to an Ypostratigos (Major General). The rank's insignia consists of a flaming grenade (replacing the crown borne under the Greek monarchy), a crossed sword and baton device and a six-pointed star. A Taxiarchos typically serves as the commanding officer of a brigade or as the Executive Officer of a division.
In the Hellenic Air Force, which otherwise uses Royal Air Force-style ranks different from those of the Army, the equivalent rank (Air Commodore) is denoted as Taxiarchos tis Aeroporias ("Air Force Brigadier") or simply Taxiarchos. The rank is also used by the Hellenic Police (and the Greek Gendarmerie before) and the Cypriot National Guard.
- Kazhdan, Alexander (Ed.) (1991). Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford University Press. p. 2018. ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6.
- Haldon, John F. (1999). Warfare, state and society in the Byzantine world, 565–1204. Routledge. p. 115. ISBN 1-85728-494-1.
- STANAG 2116: "NATO codes for grades of military personnel", 6th edition, 2010, page A-2
- "Η ιστορία της οργάνωσης του Ελληνικού Στρατου (1821-1954)", Hellenic Army General Staff, Athens, 2005, p. 410
- "Η ιστορία της οργάνωσης του Ελληνικού Στρατου (1821-1954)", Hellenic Army General Staff, Athens, 2005, p. 427
- STANAG 2116: "NATO codes for grades of military personnel", 6th edition, 2010, page C-2