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Marshal: Depiction on a deck of cards from 1455

The marshal , also field marshal , is a high military rank . In Germany, the symbol of rank was the marshal's baton , which was formally awarded; but the term can also denote a ceremonial court office . The rank of field marshal in the navy corresponded to that of the grand admiral .

historical development

The word comes from the Old High German marahscalc , composed of marah , " horse , mare " and scalc " servant , servant ". It originally referred to the "Roßknecht". With the title of his master - as with cupbearer "table servant", chamberlain " valet " - his importance increases to " stable master " ( Marstaller ) and later to general meaning in the sense of " commander of the cavalry ".

The marshal was one of the four or five old court offices as early as the Middle Ages . From the supervision of the horses and thus of the mounted entourage, on the one hand, with the emergence of the knight armies, the supreme command of the marshal in the war and the leadership of the knighthood or the estates , on the other hand, a supervisory supervision of the entire court system, which finally led to the Marshal the duties of the steward , that is, the master chef and butler took over.

Above all, he was also a travel marshal and had to look after the guests. In most of the German territories, in the later Middle Ages, these functions were distributed among various officials :

In this function he also presided over the court court . The lordly court courts in Germany arose partly from the regional court personally headed by the lord as count , and partly from the state parliaments and court assemblies. They often had a class character, were occupied by noble aldermen and were presided over by the marshal. They were primarily responsible for feudal matters and for persons of knightly class.
  • the original Function a special stable master.

In the Holy Roman Empire of the post of part Erzmarschalls to the four Erzämtern that with the secular elector dignity were connected. The Elector of Saxony was the arch marshal of the Roman-German emperor . The title of arch marshal was given to the dukes of Saxony by the Golden Bull in 1356. The ecclesiastical offices were purely honorary titles. The actual tasks associated with the offices were performed by the owners of the so-called Reichserbämter on behalf of the electors . The Reichsherbmarschall was responsible for carrying the imperial sword at the royal court.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe , who was an eyewitness to the coronation of Joseph II as Roman-German King in Frankfurt on April 3, 1764 , mentions:

"In front of everyone [...] the beautiful, slender Hereditary Marshal swung himself onto his horse; He had put down his sword, in his right hand he was holding a silver bowled vessel, and a mouldboard in his left, so he rode through the bar towards the great heap of oats, sprinkled into it, scooped up the vessel over full, wiped it off and carried it with him back with great decency. The imperial stables were now taken care of. "

- Poetry and Truth I, 5

Later the title of marshal was given almost exclusively as an honorary title for various occasions. A good example is Prince Philip , the husband of British Queen Elizabeth II. He is - honorary - Marshal of the Royal Air Force , Field Marshal of the British Army , Field Marshal of the Australian Military Forces and Marshal of the New Zealand Army . This title, which is not necessarily a military one, was also used to honor successful military leaders who had successfully completed an independent campaign. The best known are the Marshal of France and the award of the rank of Reichsmarschall to Hermann Göring by Adolf Hitler (for reasons of prestige, not because of military achievements). Further examples can be found in the following list.

Marshals in different countries

Over time, the title of marshal has evolved from a courtly official title to a military and honorary title, the award of which has little to do with its original content. The following overview gives an overview of how this title is and has been used in different countries around the world.


In Brazil , Marshal Manuel Deodoro da Fonseca became the founder of the republic in 1889, his successor was Marshal Floriano Vieira Peixoto (* 1839, † 1895). Other marshals were Defense Minister Odílio Denys, the Presidents Eurico Gaspar Dutra and Humberto Castelo Branco (1964-1967) and the Commander in Chief of the Brazilian Expeditionary Corps in Europe João Baptista Mascarenhas de Morais .

Germany and Prussia

Rank as General Field Marshal :

For further details see: Reichsmarschall and Generalfeldmarschall

Holy Roman Empire

The Reichs-Archmarschall (Archimarescallus) and the Reichs-Erbmarschall (Vicemarescallus) , Archamt since the 12th century, also the Reichs-General-Feldmarschall since the 17th century

Marshal of the Netherlands

The last field marshal of the Netherlands was Prince Frederik , the second son of King Wilhelm I from 1840 to 1881 .

Empire of Austria, Austria-Hungary

In the Austrian Empire (until 1867) the term kk field marshal was used and in Austria-Hungary (until the dissolution of the joint Austro-Hungarian army on October 31, 1918) kuk field marshal was used.

For further information see: Generalfeldmarschall

Marshal of Bolivia

Marshal of Finland

On June 4, 1942, Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim was awarded the honorary title of Marshal of Finland on his 75th birthday. He had previously been appointed Field Marshal on May 19, 1933. This took place in connection with the 15th anniversary of the end of the war for independence from Soviet Russia in 1917.

Marshal of France

The rank of Marshal of France , French Maréchal de France , was created around 1190 by Philip II for Albéric Clément . Among others, Ferdinand Foch and Henri Philippe Pétain carried this title .

Great Britain

The Field Marshal has been an honorary rank for the most deserving generals in the British and Commonwealth Armies since 1736, and has occasionally been given honorary degrees to foreign monarchs and members of the royal family. From the beginning to shortly before the end of the 20th century, he was also firmly associated with the Office of Chief of the Imperial General Staff or Chief of the Defense Staff in War and Peace . After Field Marshal Baron Peter Inge left in 1997, the title was no longer awarded to his successor. The rank is still up for grabs.
Well-known British Field Marshals (year of appointment) were:

In Great Britain , Australia and New Zealand the name Air Marshal is used in the air force instead of the name General ("Air Marshal"). The four highest ranks in the Royal Air Force are (with the first and highest abolished in peacetime):

  • Marshal of the Royal Air Force (equivalent to Field Marshal )
  • Air Chief Marshal (equivalent to General)
  • Air Marshal
  • Air Vice Marshal

Outside the military, Earl Marshal of England and Earl Marischal of Scotland were hereditary court offices with ceremonial functions at the English and Scottish royal courts.

Marshal of Iraq

In view of the numerous military coups in Iraq's history since the 1930s and rival claims to authority, President Aref found it necessary when he came to power to ensure the loyalty of the military through a higher rank . He himself had carried out a coup d'état with General Abd al-Karim Qasim in 1958, had been appointed by him to be a colonel and, as such, had initially carried out a coup against Qasim in vain.

In 1963, Qasim was finally overthrown with the help of other military personnel, e. B. the Baathist major Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr , who now also rose to the position of colonel or general. Aref's marshal rank should emphasize precedence over both and was adopted in this tradition by Bakr when he overthrew Aref in 1968. These increases were recognized by the Iraqi army as both incumbents had actually attended the military academy. The self-appointment of Bakr's successor and cousin Saddam Hussein , who had no officer training, met with discontent in the army. Saddam Hussein therefore appointed his cousin, the officer or general Ali Hasan al-Madschid, also to be field marshal and thus to the second highest military in Iraq after himself as commander in chief. Since the fall of Saddam in 2003, there has been no marshal of Iraq.

Marshal of Italy

Marshal of Italy
(field cap)

The rank of Marshal of Italy , Italian Maresciallo d'Italia , was used in Fascist Italy from 1924. There was also the rank of Maresciallo dell'Aria ( Air Marshal ) and Grande Ammiraglio ( Grand Admiral ).

These highest ranks were abolished in the Italian Army in 1946. The rank of Army General (OF-9) was also deleted. His functions were taken over by the so-called “ Lieutenant General in Special Service” until 1997 . Today the highest rank in Italy is the general or admiral (OF-9). However, this rank is reserved exclusively for the Chief of Staff of the armed forces.

A Maresciallo, on the other hand, is a rank of non-commissioned officer (OR-7).

Well-known bearers of the rank of Marshal were:

Marshal of Yugoslavia

Yugoslavia only knew one “Marshal of Yugoslavia”: Josip Broz Tito . On November 29, 1943, during the second meeting of the Anti-Fascist Council of the People's Liberation of Yugoslavia (AVNOJ - Antifašističko vijeće narodnog oslobođenja Jugoslavije) in Jajce, Tito was awarded the title of marshal. This made him the highest ranking officer who had been wounded during World War II, as he had personally participated in battles and fights (see Battle of Neretva and Sutjeska ). The Allies recognized his rank as early as 1944, which the newly founded Yugoslav state, headed by Tito himself, finally confirmed. After his death in 1980, the rank was effectively abolished, and Yugoslavia fell apart after 1991.

Marshal of North Korea

In North Korea there are several categories of marshal rank, with new awards waiting for the previous bearers to die.

  • “Generalissimo”: highest designated level, awarded in April 1992 to Kim Il-sung (†) and posthumously on February 14, 2012 to Kim Jong-il .
  • "Marshal of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea": ​​This title has so far only been used by the commanders in chief of the North Korean armed forces and is intended to emphasize their military capabilities. It was awarded to Kim Il-sung (†) on February 7, 1953 , Kim Jong-il (†) on April 20, 1992 and Kim Jong-un on July 18, 2012 .
  • "Marshal of the Korean People's Army": This title is used to honor deserving military leaders who are devoted to government. It was given to O Jin-u (†) in 1992 and Choe Kwang and Ri Ul-sol (†) in 1995 . In April 2016, the former Minister of Defense and Chief of Staff Kim Yong-ch'un (†) and Hyun Chol Hae received this title .
  • "Vice-Marshal": This title is usually used by the chiefs of the general staff. In April 2016, Ri Myong Su , formerly Minister for People's Security, received this title.
Korean in Hangul ( Hanja ), romanization German Epaulette
원 수급 (元帥 級), wŏnsukŭp
대원수 (大元帥), taewŏnsu Generalissimo Generalissimo rank insignia (North Korea) .svg
공화국 원수 (共和國 元帥), konghwakuk wŏnsu Marshal of the DPRK Marshal of the DPRK rank insignia.svg
인민군 원수 (人民 軍 元帥), Inmingun wonsu Marshal of the People's Army Marshal of the KPA rank insignia.svg
차수 (次 帥), ch'asu Vice-Marshal of the People's Army Vice-Marshal rank insignia (North Korea) .svg

→ Main article: Ranks of the Korean People's Army

Marshal of Paraguay

Marshal title in Poland

Marshal of Poland

Marshal of Poland Marszałek Polski.svg Marszalek m.png

Józef Klemens Piłsudski has held this title since 1920 while exercising his office as President . Józef Antoni Poniatowski had already become Marshal in 1812, albeit “Marshal of France” under Napoleon. With Ferdinand Foch , another French marshal also became Marshal of Poland in 1919 . The rank still exists in the Polish armed forces today , but is currently not occupied and is only intended for use in the event of war. Even during the time of the Northern Wars, there were military commanders with the title of Marshal in Poland.

Other Polish Marshals:

Marian Spychalski and Michał Rola-Żymierski , who held office from 1955 to 1968 , also held the title of “ Marshal of Poland ” during the communist era .

Parliamentary Marshal

In addition to the military title, the use of the title marshal in the political and administrative area continues in Poland . The presidents of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate are called “ Sejmmarschall ” and “Senate Marshal”. Likewise, the president of a district parliament is called "Voivodeship Sejmikmarschall" and the chairman of a voivodship is called " Voivodeship Marshal ".

Marshal of Portugal

The Portuguese army and air force have a marshal rank to this day, but with four stars it only corresponds to the army or air general.

Marshal of Romania

In Romania, Alexandru Averescu , Constantin Prezan and Ion Antonescu held the marshal title. This title was only awarded to those Romanian generals who had commanded an army during the war. After his return from exile in Paris in June 1930, Romania's new King Carol II appointed the now retired World War I generals Averescu and Prezan as marshals. After retaking the Romanian provinces that had ceded to the Soviet Union in the summer of 1940, King Mihai I promoted Ion Antonescu to Marshal in August 1941.

Marshal of Sweden

In Sweden from 1561 to 1824 the title of field marshal (fältmarskalk) was awarded 77 times as the highest military rank. In contrast, the Swedish Reichsmarschall was not a rank but an office - one of the three most important arch offices in the realm.

Marshal of the Soviet Union

Marshal of the Soviet Union RA-SA F10MarsSU 1955.png
NATO rank code OF-10

The title marshal was already used in tsarist Russia . In the 1930s five generals of the civil war were appointed Marshal of the Soviet Union by Josef Stalin , but three of them were executed in the context of the Great Terror of 1937/38. In 1943 the ranks were marshal and chief marshal of the branch of service , e.g. B. Marshal of the Armored Forces, Chief Marshal of the Air Force, introduced.

General troop commanders such as army and front commanders in chief, the chief of staff and his deputies, the defense minister and his deputies were promoted from colonel general to army general and then to marshal of the Soviet Union. Commanders of special armies such as B. tank and air armies, chiefs of arms in the fronts (military districts or army groups) or in the Ministry of Defense were promoted from the colonel general to marshal and chief marshal of the arm. The marshal of the branch of arms was thus on an equal footing with the army general.

Above the Marshal of the Soviet Union, the rank of Generalissimo was created for Stalin as Supreme Commander after the Second World War .

Marshal in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey

The sultanate and caliphate of the Ottoman Turks also had a rank above the commanders of independent armies (army generals) for a commander in chief with the highest military rank. However, this was not initially called Marshal, but Muschir (today's Turkish spelling: müşir or müşür ; from Arabic, for example: advisor, privy councilor) and corresponded to the field marshal or field marshal lieutenant (vice marshal ) or weapons marshal . During the First World War there were several muschirs on the different fronts. In addition to the military, there was also the rank in civil administration, where it corresponded to a deputy minister or minister of state or a member of the council of state. Today the word mareşal , taken from the European languages, is mostly used.

In the course of the Liman von Sanders crisis , the German general Otto Liman von Sanders was appointed Ottoman Marshal.

Turkey has so far awarded two generals the rank of marshal:

Similar names

Passers-by of the
General of the Army

In the United States, the United States Marshals Service is a Department of Justice agency . The military marshal function there corresponds to the General of the Army and General of the Air Force ( five-star general ), not to be confused with the army general (four-star general).

The Koninklijke Marechaussee is a military police force in the Netherlands .

In Italy, the Maresciallo is a rank of the armed forces (including the carabinieri entrusted with police tasks) and the financial police (guardia di financia) to various degrees. He corresponds to a non-commissioned officer or an official of the higher service, so in contrast to the marshal in other states is a rank of the middle level.

See also


  • Johann Wolfgang Goethe: Poetry and Truth, Part One, Book Five . ( - description of the coronation of Joseph II as Roman-German king).

Web links

Wiktionary: Marshal  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. English page with the list of British field marshals ( memento of the original dated November 23, 2007 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 /
  2. ^ Ha-young Choi: Kim Jong Un promotes senior military officials , NK News. April 15, 2016. 
  3. Fyodor Tertitskiy: KPA Marshal Kim Yong Chun dead at 82 . In: NK News - North Korea News . August 17, 2018. Accessed August 17, 2018. (English)
  4. ^ Bold acts of resistance in North Korea, March 13, 2015 , accessed August 17, 2018
  5. KCNA, February 15, 2012: Title of Generalissimo Awarded to Kim Jong Il (English) ( Memento of the original from June 4, 2013 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 /