Common military ranks in English
the air force
|Admiral||General||Air chief marshal|
|Vice admiral||Lieutenant general||Air marshal|
|Rear admiral||Major general||Air vice-marshal|
|Commander||Lieutenant colonel||Wing commander|
|Midshipman||Officer cadet||Officer cadet|
|Chief petty officer or
|Sergeant major or
Marshal (also spelled marshall, esp. in British English) is a term used in several official titles in various branches of society. As marshals became trusted members of the courts of Medieval Europe, the title grew in reputation. During the last few centuries, it has been used for elevated offices, such as in military rank and civilian law enforcement.
"Marshal" is an ancient loanword from Old (Norman) French, cf. modern French maréchal, which in turn is borrowed from Old Frankish *marhskalk "stable boy, keeper, servant," still evident in Middle Dutch maerscalc, marscal "id.", modern Dutch maarschalk "military commander" (the meaning influenced by the French). It is cognate with Old High German mar(ah)-scalc "id.", modern German Marschall "military commander" (the meaning influenced by the French). It originally meant "stable keeper," from Germanic *marha- "horse" (cf. Engl. mare) and skalk- "servant" (cf. Old Engl. scealc "servant, soldier"). This "stable servant" origin is retained in the current French name for farrier: maréchal-ferrant.
The late Roman and Byzantine title of comes stabuli ("count of the stable") was adopted as a Latin analogue, which has become English "constable" (cf. French (obsolete) connétable).
In many countries, the rank of marshal, cf. field marshal, is the highest army rank, outranking other general officers. The equivalent navy rank is often admiral of the fleet.
Marshals are typically, but not exclusively, appointed only in wartime. In many countries, especially in Europe, the special symbol of a marshal is a baton, and their insignia often incorporate batons.
In some countries, the term "marshal" is used instead of "general" in the higher air force ranks. The four highest Royal Air Force ranks are marshal of the Royal Air Force, air chief marshal, air marshal and air vice marshal (although the first named, which has generally been suspended as a peacetime rank, is the only one which can properly be considered a marshal). The five-star rank of marshal of the Air Force is used by some Commonwealth and Middle Eastern air forces.
In the French Army and some armies based on the French Army, maréchal des logis ("marshal-of-lodgings") is a cavalry term equivalent to sergeant.
Some historical rulers have used special "marshal" titles to reward certain subjects. Though not strictly military ranks, these honorary titles have been exclusively bestowed upon successful military leaders, such as the famous grand marshal of Ayacucho Antonio José de Sucre. Most famous are the marshals of France (Maréchaux de France), not least under Napoleon I. Another such title was that of Reichsmarschall, bestowed upon Hermann Göring by Adolf Hitler, although it was never a regular title. In England during the First Barons' War the title "Marshal of the Army of God" was bestowed upon Robert Fitzwalter by election.
Both the Soviet Union and Russia have army general as well as "marshal" in their rank system, the latter being largely an honorary rank.
The following articles discuss the rank of marshal as used by specific countries:
These ranks are considered the equivalent to a marshal:
The name is also applied to the leader of military police organizations.
Apart from its military uses, the Polish word marszałek (marshal) also refers to certain political offices:
Demonstration marshals, also called stewards, are used by the organizers of large or controversial demonstrations, rallies and protests, to help ensure the safety of the participants. They are especially important for preventing infiltration by agents provocateurs.
The word Maréchaussée seems to derive from the Old French name Maréchaux given to an ancient court of justice in Paris called the "Tribunal of Constables and Marshals of France". These constables and marshals were to become members of the Gendarmerie, which served as a model for the police forces of both Belgium and the Netherlands. The term Maréchaussée was also used for the Continental Army's military police during the American Revolution. In the Netherlands today, the Koninklijke Marechaussee is a national military police service similar to the French Gendarmerie.
In the United States, marshal is used particularly for various types of law enforcement officers.
The federal court system in the United States is organized into 94 federal judicial districts, each with a court (and one or several judges), a United States Attorney with assistants such as prosecutors and government lawyers, and one marshal, appointed by the president, in charge of federal law enforcement. The courts are part of the independent judicial branch of the government, while the marshals and U.S. attorneys are part of the Department of Justice in the executive branch.
In actual practice, the U.S. marshal for the district primarily oversees court security, and has a unit of appointed deputies and special deputies. (Other law enforcement operations and the federal prison system are handled by a variety of federal police agencies.)
The United States Marshals Service is a professional, civil service unit of federal police, part of the system of marshals, made up of career law enforcement personnel rather than the appointed district marshals. The U.S. Marshals Service assists with court security and prisoner transport, asset forfeiture, serves arrest warrants and seeks fugitives.
The Federal Air Marshal Service is a separate armed federal law enforcement service employed to protect commercial airliners from the threat of aircraft hijacking. These air marshals work for the Transportation Security Administration of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The U.S. Supreme Court maintains its own, separate Marshal of the United States Supreme Court, who also controls the U.S. Supreme Court Police, a security police service answerable to the court itself, rather than to the president or attorney general. It handles security for the Supreme Court building and for the justices personally, and undertakes whatever other missions the court may require or assign.
William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, rose from obscurity due to his courage and skill as a knight, and he served four kings, ultimately becoming one of the most powerful men in Europe. Before him, the hereditary title of "marshal" designated the head of household security for the King of England; however, by the time he died in 1219, people throughout Europe (not just England) referred to William Marshal simply as "the marshal".
In 1595, Queen Elizabeth I issued letters patent giving powers to a marshal to maintain order within the City of London. Later, an under-marshal and six city marshalmen were appointed to assist the marshal in his duties. As a result of the Police Acts of 1829 and 1839, the marshal's role changed significantly; however, there is still one city marshal (As of 2009[update]), currently Colonel Billy King-Harman, CBE, who acts as peacekeeper to the Lord Mayor of London, leading processions and representing the Lord Mayor at all Entries of Troops (challenging and then escorting those few regiments entitled to march though the City of London).
The office of "marischal of Scotland" (marascallus Scotie or marscallus Scotie) had been held heritably by the senior member of the Keith family since Hervey de Keith, who held the office of marischal under Malcolm IV and William I. The descendant of Herveus, Sir Robert de Keith (d. 1332), was confirmed in the office of "Great Marischal of Scotland" by Robert Bruce around 1324.
Robert de Keith's great-grandson, William, was raised to the peerage as Earl Marischal by James II in about 1458. The peerage died out when George Keith, the 10th Earl, forfeited it by joining the Jacobite Rising of 1715.
The marischal was to serve as custodian of the Royal Regalia of Scotland, and protect the king's person when attending parliament. The former duty was fulfilled by the 7th Earl during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, who hid the Royal Regalia at Dunnottar Castle. The role of regulation of heraldry carried out by the English Earl Marshal is carried out in Scotland by the Lord Lyon King of Arms.
The separate office of Knight Marischal was first created for the Scottish coronation of Charles I in 1633. The office is not heritable, although it has been held by members of the Keith family.
In France, the Maréchaussée ("Marshalcy") was the forerunner of the French Gendarmerie. A military corps having such duties was first created in 1337, placed under the command of the Constable of France, and named the connétablie. In 1626 after the abolition of the title of connétable, it was put under the command of the "Maréchal of France," and renamed the Maréchaussée. Its main mission was to protect the roads from highwaymen.
The maréchaussée was a mounted military police force organised and equipped along military lines. The force wore uniforms similar to those of the dragoons of the regular army and carried the same muskets and sabres. While its existence ensured the relative safety of French rural districts and roads, the maréchaussée was regarded in contemporary England (which had no effective police force of any nature) as a symbol of foreign tyranny.
In 1789, on the eve of the French Revolution, the maréchaussée numbered 3,660 men divided into small detachments called brigades. By law dated 16 February 1791, this force was renamed the gendarmerie nationale, though its personnel and role remained unchanged. The new designation was derived from that of gens d'armes, who were originally heavy cavalry in the king's household, the equivalent of the "Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms".
The title "Marshal of France" is a military distinction in contemporary France, not a military rank but is granted to generals for exceptional achievements. It was one of the Great Officers of the Crown of France during the Ancien Régime and Bourbon Restoration and one of the Great Dignitaries of the Empire during the First French Empire (when the title was not "Marshal of France" but "Marshal of the Empire")
A Marshal of France displays seven stars. The marshal also receives a baton, a blue cylinder with stars, formerly fleurs-de-lis during the monarchy and Eagles during the First French Empire. It has the Latin inscription: Terror belli, decus pacis, which means "terror in war, ornament in peace".
Six Marshals of France have been given the even more exalted rank of Marshal General of France: Biron, Lesdiguières, Turenne, Villars, Saxe, and Soult.
In the Netherlands, the Koninklijke Marechaussee are the gendarmerie force created by King William I to replace the French gendarmerie on October 26, 1814. The word gendarmerie had gained a negative connotation, so William called the new force "marechaussée" (an alternate French word for gendarmerie). At that time, the marechaussee was part of the army (landmacht). The marechaussee performed police duties for the army, as well as civilian police work as a part of the national police (rijkspolitie). The marechaussee formed the only police force in many small cities like Venlo, especially in the southern provinces of Limburg and North Brabant. As of 1998, the marechaussee is a separate branch of the Dutch military, and is assigned both military and civilian police tasks.
The rank of marshal has made frequent appearances in works of science fiction, both in live action productions and literature.
In the universe of Star Wars, the rank of marshal may be connected to the TIE fighter forces. Marshall are the ranks held by senior TIE fighter commanders, equivalent to Imperial Navy Admirals. Several sources of the Star Wars Expanded Universe have listed the following marshal ranks of the starfighter service.
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In Mercedes Lackey's fictional country of Valdemar, one of the country's most important ranks is that of lord marshal.
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