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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the highest military title in the armed forces of a number of countries. The title generalissimo has been conferred on generals who commanded several armies—usually allied armies—in wartime. It is also sometimes conferred on members of families of reigning dynasties and on statesmen as an honorary title.

In 1569 the French king Charles IX granted the title generalissimo to his 18-year-old brother, who subsequently became King Henry III. Later, the title was held by Duke H. de Guise (1550-88), Prince L. Condé (1621-88), Duke L. de Villars (1653-1734), and Duke A. Richelieu (1696-1788) in France. In Austria it was conferred on Prince R. Montecuccoli (1609-80), Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), Count L. von Daun (1705-66), Archduke Charles (1771-1847), and Prince K. Schwarzenberg (1771-1820). The title generalissimo was held by Count A. Wallenstein (1583-1634) in Germany.

In Russia the first generalissimo was the voevoda (military commander) A. S. Shein (1662-1700). The title was granted to him by Peter I the Great on June 28, 1696, for successful actions at Azov. The title generalissimo was officially introduced in Russia by the Military Regulations of 1716. On May 12, 1727, the title was conferred on Prince A. D. Menshikov (1673-1729), on Nov. 11, 1740, on Prince Anton Ulrich of Brunswick (1714-74), and on Oct. 28, 1799, on the great Russian general A. V. Suvorov (1729-1800). In the USSR the title of Generalissimo of the Soviet Union was established by the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of June 26, 1945, and it was conferred on J. V. Stalin on June 27, 1945.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.