Rittmeister (German and Scandinavian for "riding master" or "cavalry master") is or was a military rank of a commissioned cavalry officer in the armies of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and some other countries. A Rittmeister is typically in charge of a squadron (a company-sized unit called a "troop" in the United States, as opposed to the U.S. cavalry squadron of larger battalion size), and is the equivalent of a Hauptmann rank (en: captain). The various names of this rank in different languages (all Germanic, plus Estonian) were:
- Swedish: ryttmästare
- Danish: ritmester
- Norwegian: rittmester (bokmål; the spelling ritmester was used until 1907) or rittmeister (nynorsk)
- German: Rittmeister
- Estonian: rittmeister
The Dutch equivalent, Ritmeester, is still the official designation for officers in the cavalry branches of the Royal Dutch Army.
The Norwegian rank, rittmester/rittmeister, still serves as the official designation for officers in the armoured and mechanized infantry branches of the Norwegian Army. In Sweden the rank was known as ryttmästare, and in Denmark (until 1951) as ritmester. The spelling ritmester was used in Norwegian until 1907.
The armies of Poland, Finland, Lithuania, and Russia adopted, but localised, the Germanic term for someone of similar rank. These were:
- Polish: rotmistrz,
- Finnish: ratsumestari,
- Lithuanian: rotmistras,
- Russian: ротмистр (rotmistr).
In the Polish army (from the 15th century to the mid-20th century) a rotmistrz commanded a formation called a rota. However, a rotmistrz of hussars was a commander of between 100 and 180 hussars, with a lieutenant of hussars as his second-in-command. The Lithuanian term was rotmistras. In earlier times, the rotmistrz served as the commander of an infantry or cavalry company, though sometimes he would temporarily be assigned field rank tasks e.g. commanding an entire regiment or even a larger formation. In the cavalry, the rank continued until 1945 as a company level title. Applied to the commander of a troop, it was equivalent of a modern-day captain.
The rank was also adopted by Russian New Regiments as rotmistr (ротмистр) and later formalized in Table of Ranks as the cavalry post; until 1798, and between 1883 and 1918, a lower-ranking shtabs-rotmistr (штабс-ротмистр) also existed, representing the ranks of Senior Captain and Junior Captain in the Russian Imperial Guards Cavalry, Army Cavalry, Gendarmerie and Border Guards by 1914.
In British and Commonwealth military forces, a Riding Master is an appointment, not a rank. In the Household Cavalry Regiment a suitable Warrant Officer within the ranks of Riding Instructors is commissioned from the ranks. The duration of this appointment is determined by the Regimental Lieutenant-Colonel and, once appointed, the Riding Master is responsible to the Commanding Officer of the Household Cavalry Regiment for the training of recruits and remounts.
(Royal Netherlands Army)
(Royal Danish Army)
(Imperial Russian Army)
Notable rank holdersEdit
- Rittmeister Carl Bolle
- Rittmeister Bruno Richter
- Rotmistrz Witold Pilecki
- Rotmistrz Atanazy Miączyński
- ^ Thomas, Nigel; G. A. Embleton (2003). The German Army of World War I (1): 1914-15. Translated by G. A. Embleton. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 9781841765655. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
Jewison, Glenn; Jörg C. Steiner (2008-12-12). "Badges of Rank of the Austro-Hungarian Army 1914-1918". Austro-Hungarian Land Forces 1848-1918. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
Infantry: Hauptmann... Cavalry: Rittmeister
- ^ "Wie is wie- De rangonderscheidingstekens van de krijgsmacht (Who is who - rank insignia of military establishment)" (PDF). Directie Voorlichting en Communicatie (in Dutch). Ministerie van Defensie. October 2006. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-10-30. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
- ^ THE HOUSEHOLD CAVALRY - THE REGIMENTAL COMMAND STRUCTURE at the Wayback Machine (archived 2013-07-19)
- ^ "De rangonderscheidingstekens van de krijgsmacht" (PDF) (in Dutch). Ministry of Defence (Netherlands). 19 December 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
- ^ "Militære grader". forsvaret.no (in Norwegian). Norwegian Armed Forces. 4 February 2021. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
- ^ Hillmos, Finn. "Hærens gradstegn 1923" [Army insignia 1923] (PDF). chakoten.dk. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
- ^ Bunkley, Joel William (1918). Military And Naval Recognition Book: A Handbook On The Organization, Uniforms And Insignia Of Rank Of The World's Armed Forces (2nd ed.). New York: D. Van Nostrand Company. p. 203. Retrieved 29 June 2022.