Generalissimo[1] 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 (Italian: Generalissimo), 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,[2][3][4][5][6] meaning "utmost, to the highest grade". Similar cognates in other languages include generalísimo in Spanish, generalíssimo 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.[7] Other usage of the rank has been for the commander of the united armies of several allied powers and if a senior military officer becomes the head of state or head of government of a nation like Chiang Kai-Shek in China and later in Taiwan, and Francisco Franco in Spain.

The rank Generalissimus of the Soviet Union would have been a generalissimo but some sources assert that Stalin refused to accept the rank.[8][9] In fact the grade was established by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet which did not need the "approval" of Stalin. [10] The rank of Generalissimo for Stalin was used also by the Western diplomacy [11]

List of generalissimos

WallensteinAlbrecht von Waldstein, 1625, 1st Generalissimo
Person Service Country Era Notes
Chiang Kai-shek National Revolutionary Army Republic of China 1926 Appointed commander in chief of the Nationalist Army for the Northern Expedition.[12] In 1935 was appointed "general special class" (特級上將 Tèjí shàng jiàng).
Joseph Joffre French Army France 1914 His dignity (rank) was Marshal of France, but his title as commander-in-chief of the French Army was généralissime.
Alexander Danilovich Menshikov Russian Imperial Army Russian Empire 1727–1728 [13]
Duke Anthony Ulrich of Brunswick Russian Imperial Army Russian Empire 1740–1741 [14]
Alexander Suvorov Russian Imperial Army Russian Empire 1799
Ferdinand 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, the dignity (rank) of Marshal of France and later the ranks of British Field Marshal and Marshal of Poland.[15]
Maurice 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.
Maxime 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.
Francisco de Miranda Venezuelan Army Venezuela 1812
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla Revolutionary Army of Mexico América Mexicana 1810– 1811 [16]
José de San Martín Peruvian Army Peru 1821–1822 Generalísimo de las Armas del Perú
Francisco Franco Spanish Armed Forces Spain 1936–1975 generalísimo[17]
Emilio Aguinaldo Philippine Revolutionary Army Philippines 1898–1901 Generalissimo[18]
Ihsan Nuri Ararat Forces Kurdish Republic of Ararat 1927–1930 [19]
Crown Prince Charles John Royal Swedish Army Sweden 1810–1818 [20][Note 1]
Joseph Stalin Soviet Armed Forces Soviet Union 1945 Generalissimus of the Soviet Union[21] (declined usage)
Kim Il-sung Korean People's Army North Korea 1992 Taewonsu[22]
Kim Jong-il Korean People's Army North Korea 2012 Taewonsu (posthumously awarded)[23]
Rafael Trujillo Dominican Army Dominican Republic 1930 [24]
Sun Yat-sen National Revolutionary Army – Warlord Era (Northern Expedition) Republic of China 1921 Technically as da yuan shuai or "grand marshal of the army and navy"[25][26]
Albrecht von Wallenstein 30 Year's War Holy Roman Empire via the "Principal Decree of the Imperial Deputation"[27] 1625 [28]
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.[29]
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough War of the Spanish Succession Dutch Republic 1702 Referred to as Generalissimo by the Dutch States General.[30]
Prince George of Denmark British Army Kingdom of Great Britain 1702–1708 Declared 'Generalissimo of all our Forces within Our Kingdom of England and Ireland and Elsewhere' by his wife Queen Anne[31][32]
James, Duke of York Third Anglo-Dutch War Kingdom of England 1673 'Generalissimo and Supreme Commander' over forces employed against the Dutch.[31]
Louis Dauphin of France War of the Spanish Succession France 1708 Commanded French Army[33]
William VIII, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel Swedish Army Sweden 1720 [34]
George Washington Continental Army
United States Army
United States of America 1776 When chosen to be the Commander in Chief, was called by the Virginia Gazette the generalissimo of the American forces.[35] Promoted posthumously to General of the Armies of the United States on January 19, 1976 with date of rank of July 4, 1976.[36]
Deodoro da Fonseca Brazilian Army Brazil 1890
Hermann Göring Luftwaffe Nazi Germany 1940–1945 Promoted to the rank of Reichsmarschall on 19 July 1940. Stripped of rank on 30 April 1945.
Kalākaua Hawaiian Army Kingdom of Hawaii 1886–1891 King of Hawaii, was given titles of "Supreme Commander and Generalissimo of the Hawaiian Army".[37]

See also