Captain General (Spain)

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Shoulder board of the captain general of the army

Captain general ( span. Capitán general ) was a post in the Spanish colonial and military administration and is a rank in the Spanish military. Today the captain general is the highest rank of general in the Spanish Army, the Spanish Navy and the Spanish Air Force. The ruling King of Spain has the rank of Captain General.

General captain as military rank

Until the reign of King Philip V , the names of the high ranks of the military were different in the various kingdoms of the crown. In addition, there was no clear distinction between the designation of a task assigned or a title or rank, especially in the higher positions. It was not until 1717 that Philip V introduced a clear hierarchical structure and designation for the army and navy. The captain general was the highest rank of general in the army. In the Navy there was at times the top rank of Almirante General. The rank of captain general corresponded to that of a vice admiral . In 1817 Ferdinand VII abolished the rank of Almirante General , so that the captain general became the highest rank in the navy. After the rank has been different, e.g. B. at the time of the Second Republic , was abolished and reintroduced, since 1989 it has only been available to the king in all three branches of the armed forces .

General captain as a title

Supreme command of individual campaigns or administrative districts

Since the end of the 15th century, captains-general were appointed as commanders-in-chief of individual campaigns or for areas in which fighting took place. The service position was often given to incumbents along with the duties of viceroy or governor of the conquered territories. The appointment to these offices was limited to the execution of the respective assignment.

For example, Íñigo López de Mendoza y Quiñones and his son Luis Hurtado de Mendoza y Pacheco , the first Christian administrators of the Alhambra , had the title of Capitán General since 1492 - perhaps following the example of the Commander-in-Chief of the Papal Armed Forces .

Hernán Cortés was after his conquest of the Aztec Empire of Charles V to the captain general and governor of New Spain appointed.

Commander in Chief of the Santa Hermandad

The Santa Hermandad, which was founded in Castile in 1476 and existed until 1498, also had a military organization made up of infantry, light and heavy cavalry. This army was provided by the cities. The commander in chief, Alfonso of Aragon and Escobar , was called captain general.

Commander in Chief of the Silver Fleet

Before each voyage, the king appointed a captain-general to be in command of the convoy voyages of the Spanish silver fleet . Usually he wasn't a naval officer, but an army officer. It was the name of a post for the time of the America trip.

Head of the military districts in Spain

With the reorganization of the administration of Spain through the Decretos de Nueva Planta issued by King Philip V , military districts were created in the Spanish motherland in 1705, called Capitanías Generales . The areas roughly corresponded to the former kingdoms of the Crown of Spain in Spain. At the head of each captain general was a commander who was called captain general (Capitán General) . Most of the commanders did not have the rank of captain general, but were lieutenant general (teniente general).

Catalonia, Valencia, Aragon, Galicia, Mallorca and the Canary Islands had offered the greatest resistance to a Bourbon government during the War of the Spanish Succession . The captains general of these areas were not only looked after by Philip V with military tasks, they also fulfilled administrative and governmental tasks in the captain general and were chairmen of the respective supreme courts. They had practically unlimited powers. After various reforms, the power of the captains general was limited in these parts of the country to military matters.

The division of Spain into military districts called Capitanía General, Región Militar or Zona Militar lasted until 2002. The delimitation of the districts and their number changed again and again. Until 1990, the heads of the military districts were called captain general without the rank of captain general. The designation general captain for a post has disappeared in Spain today.

Individual evidence

  1. King Felipe VI. in the uniform of a captain general of the three branches of the armed forces [1]
  2. Manuel Gonzalez de Canales y Moyano, Fernando Gonzalez de Canales y López-Obrero: Uniformes de la armada tres siglos de historia (1700-2000) . Ed .: Ministerio de Defensa, Secretaría General Tecnica. tape 2 . Madrid 2014, ISBN 978-84-9781-783-7 , pp. 18th ff . (Spanish, [2] [accessed May 28, 2016]). Uniformes de la armada tres siglos de historia (1700–2000) ( Memento of the original from June 1, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. ^ Ministerio de Defensa: Ley 17/1989, de 19 de julio, Reguladora del Régimen del Personal Militar Profesional, Titulo preliminar, Artículo 2 . In: Boletín Oficial de Estado . No. 172 , 1989, pp. 23129–23147 (Spanish, [3] [PDF; accessed May 20, 2016]).
  4. z. B. José Manuel Calderón Ortega: En torno a la génesis de la administración española en Italia . In: Anuario de la Facultad de Derecho . No. 5 , 2012, p. 320 (Spanish, [4] [accessed May 20, 2016]).
  5. Joseph Perez: Ferdinand and Isabella . Callwey, Munich 1989, ISBN 3-7667-0923-2 , pp. 134 (from the French by Antoinette Gittinger).
  6. José Navarro Latorre: Don Alonso de Aragón, la "Espada" o "Lanza" de Juan II; Esquema biográfico de uno de los mejores guerreros españoles del siglo XV . In: Cuadernos de historia Jerónimo Zurita . No. 41-42 , 1982, pp. 192 (Spanish, [5] [PDF; accessed June 7, 2015]).
  7. ^ Francisco García Campa: La Carrera de Indias . In: Revista Nova y de Vetera . No. 1 , 2015 (Spanish, [6] [accessed January 20, 2016]).
  8. ^ Francisco Andújar Castillo: Capitanes generales y capitanías generales en el siglo XVIII . In: Revista de historia moderna: Anales de la Universidad de Alicante . No. 22 , 2004, p. 19 (Spanish, [7] [accessed January 20, 2016]).
  9. Ramón Bonell Colmenero: Los decretos de nueva planta . In: Saberes: Revista de estudios juridicos, económicos y sociales . No. 8 , 2010, p. 27 (Spanish, [8] [accessed July 2, 2015]).
  10. Ministerio de Defensa: Real Decreto 912/2002, de 6 de septiembre, por el que se desarrolla la estructura básica de los Ejércitos. In: Boletín Oficial de Estado . No. 215 , 2002, p. 32353–32357 (Spanish, [9] [PDF; accessed May 20, 2016]).
  11. Ministerio de Defensa: Real Decreto 125/1990, de 2 de febrero, por el que se determinan las denominaciones de quienes ejercen el mando de las regiones o zonas terrestres, marítimas y areas. In: Boletín Oficial de Estado . No. 30 , 1990, pp. 3339–3340 (Spanish, [10] [PDF; accessed January 20, 2016]).


  • Francisco Andújar Castillo: Capitanes generales y capitanías generales en el siglo XVIII . In: Revista de historia moderna: Anales de la Universidad de Alicante . No. 22 , 2004, p. 291-320 (Spanish, [11] [accessed January 20, 2016]).
  • Aurelio Guaita Martorell: Capitanes y capitanías generales . In: Revista de administración pública . No. 111 , 1986, pp. 7–50 (Spanish, [12] [accessed May 20, 2016]).