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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Admiral

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the title of the general officer who commands a fleet, or subdivision of a fleet. The origin of the word is undoubtedly Arabic. In the 12th century the Mediterranean states which had close relations with the Moslem powers on the shores or in the islands of that sea, found the title amir or emir in combination with other words used to describe men in authority; the amir-al-mumenin - prince of the faithful - or amiral-bahr - commander of the sea. They took the substantive "amir" and the article "al" to form one word, "amiral" or "ammiral" or "almirante." The Spaniards made miramamolin, out of amiral-mumenin, in the same way. "Amiral," as the name of an eastern ruler, became familiar to the northern nations during the crusades. Layamon, writing in the early years of the 13th century, speaks of the "ammiral of Babilon," and the word was for long employed in this sense. As a naval title it was first taken by the French from the Genoese during the crusade of 1249. By the end of the 13th century it had come to be used in England as the name of the officer who commanded the Cinque Port ships. The English form "admiral" arose from popular confusion with the Latin admirabilis. Such errors were naturally produced by the fantastic etymology of the middle ages. In Spain, Alphonso the Wise of Castile, in his code of laws, the Siete Partidas (Seven Divisions), accounts for the Spanish form "almirante" by its supposed derivation from the Latin admirari, since the admiral is "to be admired" for the difficulties and dangers he overcomes, and because he is the chief of those who see the wonders of the Lord in the deep- mirabilia ejus (sc. Domini) in profundo. Both in Spanish and in Elizabethan English the word has been applied to the flagship of an officer commanding a fleet or part of one. The Spanish almiranta is the ship of the second in command, and the capitana of the first. In this sense it is not uncommonly found in the narratives of Elizabethan voyages or campaigns, and it is so used by Milton in Paradise Lost - " the mast of some tall ammiral." As the title of an office it was borne by the great military, judicial and administrative officer known in France as grand amiral; in England as lord high admiral; in Spain as almirante mayor. His functions, which were wide, have been generally absorbed by the crown, or the state, and have been divided among judicial and administrative officials (see NAVY, History;

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Admiral'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/bri/a/admiral.html. 1910.

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