Şahin Giray

Şahin Giray
Khan of the Crimean Khanate
Reign 1777–1782, 1782-1783
Predecessor Devlet IV Giray, Bahadır II Giray
Born 1745
Died 1787
Burial Rhodes
House Giray Dynasty
Father Ahmed Giray
Mother Saliha Sultan, a daughter of Ahmed III

Şahin Giray, Shahin Khan Girai was the last Khan of Crimea. He was born in 1745 in Edirne. He studied in Greece and also in Venice. He reputedly spoke the Crimean Tatar language as well as Ottoman Turkish, Italian and Greek. When he was 20, his uncle Crimean Khan Qırım Giray called him back to the Crimea from his foreign school whereupon he was installed as the Commander of Nogai Horde. In 1770, the Russian Empire won a great battle against the Ottoman Empire and sought an alliance with the Crimean Khanate against the Turks. Selim Giray declined the proposal, precipitating a surprise attack by Russia against the Khanate. The Khan sent envoys to Saint Petersburg to sue for peace. During this mission Catherine II met Şahin Giray and wrote of him:

"The Crimean Prince is the most gentle Tatar, I have ever seen. He's very talented, bronze-colored, good-looking, circumcised and writes poetry. He wants to see and learn everything."

In 1776, Şahin Giray succeeded his uncle to become Khan of Crimea. During his brief reign he embarked on a program to re-build and modernise the Crimean Khanate. These reforms centred on the economy and government infrastructure but included opening factories and moving the capital from Bakhchisaray to the important trade city of Caffa .

Eventually under enormous pressure from Russia and facing the inevitability of defeat, he agreed to a Russian offer to incorporate the khanate into the Russian Empire. Following this he was compelled to move to Saint Petersburg where he lived under house arrest. He appealed to be allowed to move to Edirne where he had spent much of his childhood. In 1787, Russia and the Ottoman Empire agreed to allow him to move to Edirne. This move was not the retirement he was expecting because the Ottoman authorities saw him as a possible challenger to the imperial Ottoman throne. He was moved under arrest to Constantinople and then Rhodes where he was executed later that year.

His descendants lived in Bursa, Istanbul, and other Turkish cities.


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