Selim I Giray

Selim I Giray, Selim Khan Girai (Crimean Tatar: I Selim Geray, Turkish: 1. Selim Giray) was a Crimean khan (1631–1704). He was born in 1631. His father was Bahadır Giray. After the death of his father three other members of his family ascended the throne. Beginning by 1671 he reigned four times up to his death in 1704.[1]

Selim I Giray
Khan of the Tatar Crimean Khanate
(1st reign)
PredecessorAdil Giray
SuccessorMurad Giray
Khan of the Tatar Crimean Khanate
(2nd reign)
PredecessorHacı II Giray
SuccessorSaadet III Giray
Khan of the Tatar Crimean Khanate
(3rd reign)
PredecessorSafa Giray of Crimea
SuccessorDevlet II Giray
Khan of the Tatar Crimean Khanate
(4th reign)
PredecessorDevlet II Giray
SuccessorGazi III Giray
Died22 December 1704
DynastyGiray dynasty


Crimean khans were the direct descendants of Genghis Khan, the Mongol Emperor. After the death of Genghis Khan (1227) the empire was partitioned and the part in East Europe and Northwest Asia was named Golden Horde. The Golden Horde khans embraced Islam. That region which was also called Desht-i Qipchaq was the home of Kypchak Turks and the khanate was Turkified. In the early 15th century Golden Horde was further partitioned. One of the parts was the Crimean Khanate founded in and around the Crimean Peninsula, modern Ukraine in 1441. Giray was the name of the dynasty of khans. However, after partitioning, the parts of the khanate were no longer the major powers in the East Europe and in 1478 after an Ottoman campaign to Cremea, the Crimean Khanate had to accept the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire. Being the main Moslem vassal of the empire, Crimean Khanate had a privileged status in the Ottoman Empire.

First reign (1671-1678)Edit

He was appointed as the khan in 1671 while he was in retirement at 'Cholmek' near Yambol in modern in Bulgaria. It is said that he obtained the khanship by bribing vizier Kologi[2]. His kalga and nureddin were his brother Selyamet and his cousin Safa. He was immediately called to fight in the Polish–Ottoman War (1672–76). Howorth[3] says that he and his two sons contributed to the capture of Kamianets-Podilskyi. He captured many prisoners in Pokutia and Volhynia but was forced to abandon them by Jan Sobieski. When the Nogais near Akkerman revolted against the Porte Selim forced them to move to Crimea, but they drifted back.

In 1676 the pro-Turkish Doroshenko was defeated at Chyhyryn by the Russians and forced to abdicate. In 1677 Turkish and Crimean troops were sent to re-take Chyryhin. The Russians barely won the siege, Selim received part of the blame and was removed. See Russo-Turkish War (1676–1681). He spent the winter in Kaffa and retired to Rhodes.


He was followed by Murad Giray and then Haci II Giray. In 1683 Murad was removed for his part in the Turkish defeat at Vienna. Haci was soon driven out by the Crimean nobles.

Second reign (1684-1691)Edit

The Turkish disaster at Vienna led to the so-called Great Turkish War (1683-1699) in which all the neighboring powers ganged up to push the Turks south. Russia’s role was to send two expeditions against Crimea (Crimean campaigns of 1687 and 1689). Both failed due to supply problems, but they kept Crimean troops away from the main fighting in the west. In 1688 Selim defeated some Austrians. In 1689 he was again successful near Belgrade, but his son was killed. He chose to resign the khanship and make the pilgrimage to Mecca. On his return he settled at an estate called ‘Kazikui near Silivri’. [4]


He was followed by Saadet III Giray who was removed after less than a year. The next khan, Safa Giray of Crimea, was replaced by Selim at Crimean request. Saadet failed the Turks militarily and Safa was accused of drunkenness, among other things,

Third Reign (1692-1699)Edit

His kalga was his son Devlet. His nureddin was Shahin, the son of his nephew Selyamet. His reign was dominated by three problems: fighting in the Balkans, raiding and fighting in Ukraine and the Russian capture of Azov.

In 1692 he was immediately called to fight in the Balkans. In September 1695 he was again called west and took part in the battle of Lippa or Lugos. (see de:Friedrich von Veterani)

During the Azov campaigns (1695–96) Peter the Great tried to capture Azov, the second campaign being successful. Russia held Azov until 1711.

The Crimeans raided Domanchov (1692), Poltava (1692,1693) and Pereiaslav (1694). In return the Cossacks raided Ochakov and Perekop. Following the Azov campaigns the Cossacks built forts near the mouth of the Don and Crimeans raided toward Lemburg (1697). Crimeans fought Poles at the Battle of Podhajce (1698).

It is not clear why Selim chose to leave the throne. He retired to an esate near Silivri. His departure roughly coincided with the Treaty of Karlowitz (1699) which ended the Great Turkish War and the Treaty of Constantinople (1700) which ended Russian involvement in the same war.

Fourth reign (1702–1704)Edit

Selim's successor Devlet II Giray was planning a campaign to Moscow which meant a new war for the war-weary Ottoman Empire.[5] Thus, Selim was called back to throne by the porte. During his last reign, Selim put an end to interior chaos in Crimea. He died in Bahçesaray, Crimea and was buried in the tomb of the mosque named after him. (22 July 1704)


Although a war hero, Selim is also known for his talent as a poet and a musician. As a poet, he wrote the zafername (book of victories) about his victories against Russians at Perekop. During his frequent stays in İstanbul, he supported musicians like Hafız Post (1630–1694).


  • Henry Hoyle Howorth, History of the Mongols, 1880, Part 2, pp. 559-571
  1. ^ Islamic Encyclopaedia {{|tr}}
  2. ^ Howorth, p559. "Vizier Kologi" is hard to find in other sources.
  3. ^ p560, hard to find in other sources
  4. ^ The French Wikipedia (left link) has this unsourced information. He occupied Budjak while Azamat ravaged Volhynia. He went to Adrianople and Bessarabia but in May 1689 returned to Crimea to block the Russians. He returned to Sofia and Skoplje. In October 1690 the Turks retook Belgrade and in December Selim went to Istanbul where he abdicated in March 1691.
  5. ^ Nicholae Jorga: Geschichte des Osmanichen Vol IV, (translation:Nilüfer Epçeli), Yeditepe Yayınları, İstanbul, 2009, ISBN 975-6480-21-1 p.219, 248
Preceded by
Adil Giray
Khan of Crimea
Succeeded by
Murad Giray
Preceded by
Hacı II Giray
Khan of Crimea
Succeeded by
Saadet III Giray
Preceded by
Sefa Giray
Khan of Crimea
Succeeded by
Devlet II Giray
Preceded by
Devlet II Giray
Khan of Crimea
Succeeded by
Gazi III Giray