It would seem that the etymology of the naval rank “Admiral” has long been clarified and disassembled by bones. Consequently, no doubt and discussion is not subject. Nevertheless, disputes over the origin of this word that is known and familiar to all of us do not stop.
The main version that has firmly entered the vast majority of explanatory and terminological dictionaries is the statement about the Arab roots of the rank, which has been the highest for military sailors from about the XNUMXth century. Here, they say, everything is simple: the local sheikhs called their commanders flotillas none other than amīr al-baḥr, "amӣr al-bahr." "Amir" (or "emir") - a prince, lord, ruler. “Bahr” is understandable, the sea, it is even present in the name of one of the most oil-bearing countries in the Middle East. Consequently, it turns out to be a "sea prince" or "master of the seas."
Well, even later, the Dutch, who liked this word, picked it up and shifted in their own manner, turned it into admiraal. The French adopted amiral, admiral.
It was considered that Peter the Great brought the title to Mother Russia, according to Peter the Great, who built the fleet in the Dutch manner and, accordingly, got all the terminology from there. It would seem that everything is extremely clear and there is nothing to argue about. However, you should not rush to the final conclusions.
Alternative versions of the origin of the word "admiral"
As usual, there were those who began to build alternative versions on this occasion, not wanting to give primacy to the sheikhs and emirs. In principle, some of their arguments sound logical. For example, this: representatives of what people were the most seasoned sailors of antiquity? Greeks? Let’s have them look for “admiral’s roots”! Imagine, they found: aλμυρός “admiros” - that is how “salty” sounds in Greek. But what could be a real admiral, if not salted sea waves? In tune. By the way, the ruins of the city with the same name are in sunny Hellas. And this city, judging by the chronicles, was famous just for its ports and flotillas.
Other enthusiasts are trying to argue that the name for someone who leads a mighty and formidable navy could only be born in the Roman Empire. And the “admiral” in fact is nothing but the re-rotated Latin admirabilis (“admirabilis”), that is, “wonderful”, “delightful”, “stunning the imagination”. Proponents of this version rely on the fact that the Romans, inclined (especially closer to the decline of their empire) to pomp and luxury, probably dressed their navy "commander-in-chiefs" so richly and magnificent that they could really amaze the imagination - at least with the gleam of their gilded armor and splendor Sultans on helmets.
However, the research of those researchers who drew attention to a very interesting detail in ancient texts, both Arabic and European, perhaps deserves much more attention. For example, in one Spanish document of the XNUMXth century we meet “almiraje de la mar”. That is ... "sea admiral"! It turns out there were land? The text of the famous "Song of Roland", which mentions "Si li tramist li amiralz Galafes" - "Admiral of Galafia" makes one think about this. Halafia is the ancient name of the current Syrian city of Aleppo. It turns out that the term “admiral” was still not originally tied to the sea?
Very similar to that. Another proof - the title of the first admiral of the future "mistress of the seas" of England, assigned in the XNUMXth century to William de Leyburn, was: "Amiral de la Mer du Roy d'Angleterre". Again, we see a direct clarification that this rank is related to the fleet and the sea.
The closest to truth can be considered the opinion that the term we are talking about from the very beginning simply meant “emir” - the commander-in-chief of large military forces. Most likely, the “admiral” that is familiar to us can indeed originate in Arabic, but from the name amīr al-ʻālī it means “supreme emir”. Well, the naval sound came to him later, which, however, cannot in any way diminish the trepidation and respect experienced by all military sailors before this title.