For other uses, see Generalissimo (disambiguation).
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Generalissimo (Italian: Generalissimo [dʒeneraˈlissimo], Spanish: Generalísimo [xeneɾaˈlisimo], Portuguese: Generalíssimo [ʒenɨɾaˈlisimu], Latin: Generalissimus) is a military rank of the highest degree, superior to field marshal and other five-star ranks in the countries where they are used. The word generalissimo is Italian and is the absolute superlative of generale ('general'), thus meaning "the highest-ranking of all generals".

Notable examples of generalissimos include the supreme commander of the Sixth Coalition in the largest battle in history Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg, Chiang Kai-shek, who was the leader of the Republic of China from 1938 to 1975 ,[1] Alexander Menshikov of the Russian Imperial Army (1727–1728),[2] Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla of the Revolutionary Army of Mexico (1809–1811),[3] Kim Jong-Il of the Korean People's Army (1991–2011),[4] George Washington of the Continental and United States Armies (1775–1799 and 1798–1799, respectively),[5] John J. Pershing of the American Expeditionary Forces,[6] Francisco Franco of the Spanish Armed Forces (1939–1975),[7] Maxime Weygand of the French Army (1939), Emilio Aguinaldo of the Philippine Revolutionary Army (1898–1901),[8] and Charles XIV John of Sweden of the Royal Swedish Army (1810–1811).[9]

The rank Generalissimus of the Soviet Union would have been a generalissimo but Stalin refused to adopt the rank.[10][11]


The word "generalissimo" is an Italian term, from generale, plus the superlative suffix -issimo, itself from Latin -issimus,[12][13][14][15][16] meaning "utmost, to the highest grade".

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.[17] Other usage of the rank has been for the commander of the united armies of several allied powers.

List of generalissimos

WallensteinAlbrecht von Waldstein, 1625, 1st Generalissimo
Person Service Country Era Notes
Chiang Kai-shek National Revolutionary Army Republic of China1935His rank was Tèjí Shàngjiàng (特級上將), or "General Special Class"[18]

[Note 1]

Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg Imperial and Royal Army Austrian Empire1813 He was the Commander of the armies of the Sixth Coalition in the Battle of the Nations, which was the largest battle in history with 225'000 soldiers and 700 guns on the Napoleonic side and 380'000 soldiers and 1'500 guns on the Sixth Coalition side.
Joffre, JosephJoseph Joffre French Army France1914 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 Empire1799
Menshikov, AlexanderAlexander Menshikov Russian Imperial Army Russian Empire1727–1728[2]
Foch, FerdinandFerdinand Foch French Army France1918 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.[19]
Gamelin, MauriceMaurice Gamelin French Army France1939 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 France1939 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 Venezuela1812
Hidalgo y Costilla, MiguelMiguel Hidalgo y Costilla Revolutionary Army of MexicoAmérica Mexicana 1810 September – 1811 February [3]
de San Martín, JoséJosé de San Martín Peruvian Army Perú1821-1822Founder of the Freedom of Perú, Founder of the Republic, Protector of Perú and Generalísimo de las Armas del Perú
Franco, FranciscoFrancisco Franco Spanish Armed Forces Spain1936–1975generalísimo[7]
Emilio AguinaldoPhilippine Revolutionary ArmyPhilippines1898–1901Heneralismo[8]
Ihsan Nuri Ararat Forces Kurdish Republic of Ararat1927–1930[20]
Crown Prince Charles John Royal Swedish Army Sweden 1810–1818[9]

[Note 2]

Stalin, JosephJoseph Stalin Soviet Armed Forces Soviet Union1945 Generalissimus of the Soviet Union[21] (declined)
Kim Il-sung Korean People's Army North Korea1992 Taewonsu[22]
Kim Jong-Il Korean People's Army North Korea 2012 Taewonsu (Promoted posthumously)[4]
Trujillo, RafaelRafael Trujillo Dominican Army Dominican Republic 1930[23]
Sun Yat-sen Republic of China 1921 Technically as grand marshal[24] (source does not support this)
Albrecht von Wallenstein 30 Year's War Holy Roman Empire via the "Principal Decree of the Imperial Deputation"[25] 1625[26]
Pershing, JohnJohn Pershing United States Army United States of America1919Promoted to General of the Armies of the United States on September 3, 1919.[6]
Washington, GeorgeGeorge Washington Continental Army
United States Army
United States of America1776Promoted posthumously to General of the Armies of the United States on January 19, 1976 with date of rank of July 4, 1776.[5]
da Fonseca, DeodoroDeodoro da Fonseca Brazilian Army Brazil1890 First president of Brazilian Republic and

responsible for the fall of the Brazilian empire.

See also


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