Stratarches means "master/ruler of the army" in Greek, and is a title associated with successful generals. In modern Greek usage, it corresponds to the rank of Field Marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...


The term originated in the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

, where, in the 9th to 11th centuries, the stratarchai were a class of senior officials in charge of military finances and administration, including the hetaireiarches (commander of the mercenary guards), the droungarios of the Imperial Fleet, the logothetes ton agelon
Logothetes ton agelon
The logothetēs tōn agelōn , in English the Logothete of the Herds, was the Byzantine official responsible for the state-run estates in western Asia Minor that reared horses and mules for the Byzantine army and the imperial Public Post....

who supervised the army's horse-breeding farms, the komēs tou staulou (Count of the Stable
Count of the Stable
The Count of the Stable was a late Roman and Byzantine office responsible for the horses and pack animals intended for use by the army and the imperial court...

) and the protospatharios
Prōtospatharios was one of the highest court dignities of the middle Byzantine period , awarded to senior generals and provincial governors, as well as to foreign princes.-History:...

of the basilikoi anthropoi. By the late 11th century, this technical meaning was forgotten, and the term stratarches, along with variants such as megas stratarches and panstratarches, came to be used as an honorific epithet for important generals. In this use it is for instance used to describe the famed literary hero Digenis Akritas, or famous past commanders, such as Belisarius
Flavius Belisarius was a general of the Byzantine Empire. He was instrumental to Emperor Justinian's ambitious project of reconquering much of the Mediterranean territory of the former Western Roman Empire, which had been lost less than a century previously....


In modern Greek history
History of modern Greece
The history of modern Greece covers the history of Greece from the recognition of independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1832 after the Greek War of Independence to the present day.- Background :In 1821, the Greeks rose up against the Ottoman Empire...

, the title (modern phonetic transliteration: stratarchis) retains the latter connotation, and was used unofficially during the Greek War of Independence
Greek War of Independence
The Greek War of Independence, also known as the Greek Revolution was a successful war of independence waged by the Greek revolutionaries between...

 for the two most successful Greek field commanders: Theodoros Kolokotronis
Theodoros Kolokotronis
Theodoros Kolokotronis was a Greek Field Marshal and one of the leaders of the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire....

 in the Morea
The Morea was the name of the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece during the Middle Ages and the early modern period. It also referred to a Byzantine province in the region, known as the Despotate of Morea.-Origins of the name:...

The Peloponnese, Peloponnesos or Peloponnesus , is a large peninsula , located in a region of southern Greece, forming the part of the country south of the Gulf of Corinth...

) and Georgios Karaiskakis
Georgios Karaiskakis
Georgios Karaiskakis born Georgios Iskos was a famous Greek klepht, armatolos, military commander, and a hero of the Greek War of Independence.- Early life :...

 in Central Greece
Central Greece
Continental Greece or Central Greece , colloquially known as Roúmeli , is a geographical region of Greece. Its territory is divided into the administrative regions of Central Greece, Attica, and part of West Greece...

. Since then it has usually been used to render in Greek the rank and dignity of Field Marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

. In this capacity, the rank was first awarded to King Constantine I
Constantine I of Greece
Constantine I was King of Greece from 1913 to 1917 and from 1920 to 1922. He was commander-in-chief of the Hellenic Army during the unsuccessful Greco-Turkish War of 1897 and led the Greek forces during the successful Balkan Wars of 1912–1913, in which Greece won Thessaloniki and doubled in...

 in 1913, following the victorious Balkan Wars
Balkan Wars
The Balkan Wars were two conflicts that took place in the Balkans in south-eastern Europe in 1912 and 1913.By the early 20th century, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia, the countries of the Balkan League, had achieved their independence from the Ottoman Empire, but large parts of their ethnic...

. It was awarded again to his son, King George II
George II of Greece
George II reigned as King of Greece from 1922 to 1924 and from 1935 to 1947.-Early life, first period of kingship and exile:George was born at the royal villa at Tatoi, near Athens, the eldest son of King Constantine I of Greece and his wife, Princess Sophia of Prussia...

, in 1939, and was held by his successors up to the abolition of the Greek monarchy in 1974. Apart from the reigning monarchs, only two professional officers have been awarded the rank: Lieutenant General Theodoros Grivas was bestowed the rank on 23 October 1862 for his leadership in the revolt that led to the ousting of King Otto
Otto of Greece
Otto, Prince of Bavaria, then Othon, King of Greece was made the first modern King of Greece in 1832 under the Convention of London, whereby Greece became a new independent kingdom under the protection of the Great Powers .The second son of the philhellene King Ludwig I of Bavaria, Otto ascended...

, but died the following day, before it could be conferred to him in person, and General Alexandros Papagos, who was awarded it on 28 October 1949 in recognition of his services during the Greco-Italian War
Greco-Italian War
The Greco-Italian War was a conflict between Italy and Greece which lasted from 28 October 1940 to 23 April 1941. It marked the beginning of the Balkans Campaign of World War II...

 and the Greek Civil War
Greek Civil War
The Greek Civil War was fought from 1946 to 1949 between the Greek governmental army, backed by the United Kingdom and United States, and the Democratic Army of Greece , the military branch of the Greek Communist Party , backed by Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Albania...

. It is also notable that up to 1970 and again with the exception of Papagos, the rank of full (four-star) general (Stratigos) was also reserved for royal family members. The rank of Stratarchis has not been retained by the current Third Hellenic Republic.

See also

  • Strategos
    Strategos, plural strategoi, is used in Greek to mean "general". In the Hellenistic and Byzantine Empires the term was also used to describe a military governor...

  • Stratelates
    Stratēlatēs was a Greek term designating a general, which also became a honorary dignity in the Byzantine Empire. In the former sense, it was often applied to military saints, such as Theodore Stratelates....

  • Greek military ranks
    Greek military ranks
    Modern Greek military ranks are based on Ancient Greek & Byzantine terminology, even though the ranks correspond to those of other Western armies...

  • Hellenic Army officer rank insignia
    Hellenic Army officer rank insignia
    This article describes the military rank insignia used by the Hellenic Army. The current insignia date back to the late 1930s, when British-style insignia were adopted...

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