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(1) A court title in medieval France; the king’s servant who looked after his horses. In the 12th century the marshal became a court official who was the master of the king’s bodyguard, cavalry guard, and stables. Between 1180 and 1223 the title of “marshal of France” was introduced for the king’s marshal, as distinct from the marshals maintained by big feudal lords. In the 13th through 15th centuries the marshal commanded part of the royal army.
(2) The highest military rank (grade) in the armies of several countries, introduced in France in the 16th century. The marshal carried a baton as a special sign of distinction. The rank of marshal was abolished during the Great French Revolution in 1793 and restored by Napoleon I on May 19, 1804. In the 19th century the rank of marshal was introduced in Spain, Turkey (musir), Italy, and Japan, and in the 20th century in Great Britain (only in the air force—vice-marshal, marshal, chief marshal of aviation, and marshal of the Royal Air Force), India, Poland, Finland, Rumania, China (where it existed until 1965), the Korean People’s Democratic Republic, the Mongolian People’s Republic, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and several other countries. In Great Britain, Prussia (later Germany), Austria (later Austria-Hungary), and Russia the rank of field marshal corresponded to the rank of marshal. In the USSR the rank of marshal of the Soviet Union was introduced in 1935, and the ranks of marshal of a combat arm and chief marshal of a combat arm were introduced in 1943.
(3) In Poland the title of several civilian officials (marshal of the Sejm and vice-marshal of the Sejm).