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Giray ( ), alternative spellings Guirey, Ghirai, Ghiray, Geray, is the Genghisid dynasty, which reigned in the Khanate of Crimea from its formation in 1427 until its downfall in 1783. The dynasty also supplied several khans of Kazan and Astrakhan between 1521 and 1550. Apart from the royal Girays, there was also a lateral branch, the Choban Girays (Çoban Geraylar).Before reaching the age of majority, young Girays were brought up in one of the Circassian tribes, where they were instructed in the arts of war. The Giray khans were elected by other Crimean Tatar dynasts, called myrzas (mırzalar). They also elected an heir apparent, called the qalgha sultan (qalğa sultan). In later centuries, the Ottoman Sultan obtained the right of installing and deposing the khans at his will.

During Ottoman Suzerainty

According to some scholars, the Girays were regarded as the second family of the Ottoman Empire after the House of Ottoman: "If Romemarker and Byzantium represented two of the three international traditions of imperial legitimacy, the blood of Genghis Khan was the third... If ever the Ottomans became extinct, it was understood that the Genghisid Girays would succeed them" (Sebag Montefiore. Prince of Princes: The Life of Potemkin. London, 2000).

During the 15th and early 16th centuries, the Giray Khan was second to the Ottoman Emperor, and superior to the Grand Vizier, in the Ottoman protocol. After the rebellion of Semiz Mehmed Giray, the sultan demoted the Crimean Khan to the level of Grand Vizier. The Giray Khans were also sovereigns of their own realm. They could mint coins, make law by decree, and had their own tughras.


After the khanate's annexation by Imperial Russiamarker in 1783, the last khan Şahin Giray remained nominally in power until 1787, when he took refuge in the Ottoman empire, and was executed in Rhodesmarker.

Other dynasts were permitted by the Russian authorities to reside in their Bakhchisaraymarker palace. Selim III's young son, Qattı Giray, was converted by missionaries to Protestantism and married a Scottishmarker heiress.

After downfall

Since annexation most of the Girays have lived in Turkey. Some of them, however, have lived in other countries. The last Crimean Khan, Şahin Giray's, grandsons and daughters live in Bursa and Istanbul.

See also

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