FIELD-MARSHAL,- a military dig nity conferred on such commanders of armies as are distinguished by their high personal rank or superior talents.
It has been supposed that the term marshal is derived from Martis Senes challus ; but it is more probable that it came from the Saxon words mar, or marach, a horse, and scalch, a servant; and it appears to have designated the person who had the care of a certain number of horses in the royal stables. In the Teutonic laws such a person is called mariscalcus, and the fine for his murder is particularly specified.
The earl-marshal of England had originally the chief command of the army ; and history records the names of two noblemen, De Montmorency and Fitzosborne, on whom the title was con ferred by William the Conqueror.
The office was by Henry VIII. made hereditary in the family of the Duke of Norfolk ; but it is probable that it had before that time ceased to be connected with the military service; for from the ' Anecdotes of the Howard Family,' we learn that while another person held the post of earl-marshal, Sir Robert Wil loughby, Lord Brooke, was appointed by Henry VII. to be marshal of the army.
The title of Marechal de France ap pears to have become a military dignity in that country in the time of Philip Augustus ; and, according to Pere Daniel, the first person who held it was Henry Clement, the commander of the French army at the conquest of Anjou iu 1204.
Originally there was only one Mardohal de France, but, in 1270, when the king, Saint Louis, went on his expedition to Africa, a second was appointed. Francis I. added a third, and the number was in creased by Napoleon to twelve.
The marechaux de camp, in the old French service, were charged with the duty of arranging the encampment and providing subsistence for the troops; and in action they bad the command of the wings or of the reserve of an army under the general-in-chiet From the title borne by this class of general officers is derived that of feld-marschall in the German armies; and we have adopted the title from the German.
The number of British field-marshals is at present six: the Duke of Wellington, the King of Hanover, the Duke of Cam bridge, the King of the Belgians, Prince Albert, and the King of Holland. Field marshals have no pay as such, but they retain their pay as full generals, and the command of two regiments may be given to them instead of one.