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The word generalissimo ((Italian: Generalissimo) is 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,[1][2][3][4][5] meaning "utmost, to the highest grade". Similar cognates in other languages include Generalísimo (pronounced [xeneɾaˈlisimo]) in Spanish, Generalíssimo (pronounced [ʒenɨɾaˈlisimu]) 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 nation, usually only subordinate to the sovereign.[6] Other usage of the rank has been for the commander of the united armies of several allied powers.

The rank Generalissimus of the Soviet Union would have been a generalissimo but Stalin refused to adopt the rank.[7][8]

List of generalissimosEdit

WallensteinAlbrecht von Waldstein, 1625, 1st Generalissimo
Person Service Country Era Notes
Chiang Kai-shek National Revolutionary Army Republic of China 1935 His rank was Tèjí Shàngjiàng (特級上將), or "General Special Class"[9][10][Note 1]
Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg Imperial and Royal Army Austrian Empire 1813 He was the Commander of the armies of the Sixth Coalition in the Battle of the Nations, which was the largest battle in European history to that point.[citation needed]
Joffre, JosephJoseph Joffre French Army France 1914 His rank was Marshal of France, but his title as commander-in-chief of the French Army was généralissime.
Suvorov, AlexanderAlexander Suvorov Russian Imperial Army Russian Empire 1799
Menshikov, Alexander DanilovichAlexander Danilovich Menshikov Russian Imperial Army Russian Empire 1727–1728 [11]
Foch, FerdinandFerdinand Foch French Army France 1918 Généralissime was the title used to describe Ferdinand Foch's Allied Command, starting 26 March 1918. He actually held the rank of général de division, Marshal of France and later the ranks of British Field Marshal and Marshal of Poland.[12]
Gamelin, MauriceMaurice 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.
Weygand, MaximeMaxime Weygand French Army France 1939 His rank was général d'armée, but his title as commander-in-chief of the French Armed Forces was généralissime.
de Miranda, FranciscoFrancisco de Miranda Venezuelan Army Venezuela 1812
Hidalgo y Costilla, MiguelMiguel Hidalgo y Costilla Revolutionary Army of Mexico América Mexicana 1810 September – 1811 February [13]
de San Martín, JoséJosé de San Martín Peruvian Army Perú 1821-1822 Generalísimo de las Armas del Perú
Franco, FranciscoFrancisco Franco Spanish Armed Forces Spain 1936–1975 generalísimo[14]
Emilio Aguinaldo Philippine Revolutionary Army Philippines 1898–1901 Heneralismo[15]
Ihsan Nuri Ararat Forces Kurdish Republic of Ararat 1927–1930 [16]
Crown Prince Charles John Royal Swedish Army Sweden 1810–1818 [17][Note 2]
Stalin, JosephJoseph Stalin Soviet Armed Forces Soviet Union 1945 Generalissimus of the Soviet Union[18] (declined)
Kim Il-sung Korean People's Army North Korea 1992 Taewonsu[19]
Kim Jong-il Korean People's Army North Korea 2012 Taewonsu (Promoted posthumously)[20]
Trujillo, RafaelRafael Trujillo Dominican Army Dominican Republic 1930 [21]
Sun Yat-sen National Revolutionary Army - Warlord Era (Northern Expedition) Republic of China 1921 Technically as da yuan shuai or grand marshal[22][23]
Albrecht von Wallenstein 30 Year's War Holy Roman Empire via the "Principal Decree of the Imperial Deputation"[24] 1625 [25]
Pershing, John J.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.[26]
Washington, GeorgeGeorge Washington Continental Army
United States Army
United States of America 1776 Promoted posthumously to General of the Armies of the United States on January 19, 1976 with date of rank of July 4, 1976.[27]
da Fonseca, DeodoroDeodoro 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".[28]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Chiang Kai-shek was a 特級上將 ("general special class") of the Republic of China, cf. 特級上將授任條例
  2. ^ 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.


  1. ^ Webster's Third New International Dictionary. , French Larousse Étymologique.
  2. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". Online Etymology Dictionary. 
  3. ^ "Define Generalissimo at". 
  4. ^ "Generalissimo – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Merriam-Webster. 
  5. ^ "Definition of generalissimo – Oxford Dictionaries (British & World English)". Oxford Dictionary of English. 
  6. ^ Thomas Hobbes (1660), Chapter XVIII: Of the Rights of Sovereigns by institution, retrieved 16 August 2015 
  7. ^ Service, Robert (2005). Stalin: A Biography. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. p. 548. ISBN 978-0-674-01697-2.
  8. ^ S. M. Shtemenko. The General Staff in the War Years. Moskva 1985. Vietnamese version (vol. 2) . pp. 587-588.
  9. ^ Jay Taylor:The Generalisimo:Chiang Kai-shek and the struggle for modern China (2009) Harvard Press
  10. ^ Jonathan Fenby (12 February 2015). Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the China He Lost. Simon & Schuster UK. ISBN 978-1-4711-4295-6. 
  11. ^ "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.
  12. ^ John McGroarty :The Gray Man of Christ: Generalissimo Foch (1919) Los Angeles, Walter A Abbott
  13. ^ Comunica Miguel Hidalgo su proclamaci n como General simo de Am rica. Documentos Historicos de Mexico, 24 Oct 1810.
  14. ^ Cover, TIME magazine, 18 Oct 1943
  15. ^ Emilio Aguinaldo. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  16. ^ 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)
  17. ^ (in Swedish) Ancienneté och Rang-Rulla öfver Krigsmagten år 1813
  18. ^ Joseph Stalin was appointed Generalissimus of the Soviet Union. See: Ivan Aleksandrovich Venediktov, Selskokhozyaystvennaya yentsiklopediya, Vol. 4, Gos. izd-vo selkhoz, 1956, p. 584. (in Russian)
  19. ^ The Daily Yomuiri, 29 September 2010, Kim Jong Un spotlighted / 'Heir apparent' promoted to general, makes DPRK media debut
  20. ^ The Australian, 15 February 2012, Late Kim Jong-il awarded highest honour by North
  21. ^ Stanley Walker, Generalissimo Rafael L. Trujillo (1955) Caribbean Library
  22. ^ Linda Pomerantz-Zhang (1992). Wu Tingfang (1842–1922): Reform and Modernization in Modern Chinese History. Hong Kong University Press. p. 255. ISBN 962209287X. Retrieved 2010-10-31. 
  23. ^ Taylor, Jay (15 April 2009). The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the struggle for modern China. Harvard University Press. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-674-05471-4. Retrieved 28 February 2017. 
  24. ^ A short history of Germany. Ernest Flagg Henderson, 1908
  25. ^ Tilly und Wallenstein – ein Vergleich zweier Heerführer. Harry Horstmann, 2010. (in German)
  26. ^ Public Law 66-45 of September 3, 1919 to revive the office of General of the Armies
  27. ^ 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
  28. ^ 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.