Bey (title)

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Bey (originally Beg ; Persian and Ottoman بگ Beg or Beyg ; Arabic بك Bek ) is a Turkish ruler title, synonymous with the Arabic title amīr . The feminine equivalent is Begum .


The title is already mentioned in the form of bäg in the old Turkish Orkhon inscriptions and means "tribal leader" (compared to Chagan , the leader of a tribal federation). The dialectal variations bäk , bek , bey , biy , bi , pig all come from the old Turkish bäg . The origin of the word is not entirely clear. While Gerhard Doerfer also considers a Turkish etymology to be possible, the majority of specialist literature assumes that it is a loan word. Two options are up for debate:

  1. the Middle Persian title bag (also baγ / beγ , old Iranian baga ; cf. Sanskrit भगवत् bhagvan ) with the meaning "lord" or "master", among other things a title of the Sassanid kings; Peter Golden traces the term back to the same Iranian root via sogdisch bġy . Cf. also Baghdad ( Baġdād , pers. "Gift of the Lord").
  2. the Chinese (with an older form pök or pak ; after Edwin Pulleyblank pe r jk ), meaning "elder (brother) / feudal lord", often a member of the third degree of the nobility.

It is certain that the word has no relationship with the Turkish berk , “strong” ( Mongolian berke ), or the Turkish bögü , “ shaman ” (Mongolian böge ).


In the early Middle Ages, Bey was the title of ruler of the Anatolian minor principalities organized within the Sultanate of the Rum Seljuks . With the collapse of the Anatolian Seljuks these princes were self-employed, including the early Ottoman rulers (the first in 1383 the Sultan Title assumptions).

With the establishment of the Ottoman Empire , Bey named the governors of a sub-province ( Beylik , Sandschak ), who in turn were subordinate to a pasha as governor of a major province. In particular, the Beys (or Deys ) in the North African barbarian states achieved a considerable degree of political autonomy, such as the rulers of Tunis from 1628 to 1956.

The military (for example with the rank of major or colonel ) and civil officials of the higher rank were also dubbed Bey .

Was used as the rank insignia Bey a Ross tail ( tugh carried ahead); this custom was abolished by Sultan Mahmud II (1785 / 1808–1839). The title came after the name; In 1934 the title , which was also used as an honorary title , was abolished in Turkey and in 1953 in Egypt. The next higher titles were Pasha and Vizier , subordinate titles were lower-ranking Aghas (but not the Agas of the Janissaries ) and Efendi .

The meaning of Beg in Central Asia

In Central Asia , Kipchak nomad tribes are called beg or bij as tribal leaders. The tribal leaders, who were able to unite confederations of several tribal leaders, called themselves chon based on the title of Genghis Khan .

The importance of the Beis in North Africa

Muhammad VI. al-Habib, 1922-29 Bey of Tunis, in Paris

In North Africa , the early Ottoman tradition, the governor of the Sultan as held In entitle to, in the (in fact largely independent) Ottoman provinces Libya , Algiers and Tunis. The Beis (or Deis ) of Algiers were in 1830 during the French conquest of Algeria deposed the last Ottoman case of Libya had in 1912 the new Italian colonialists soft.

The regional rulership of the Beis of Tunis, which had been made hereditary since 1705 by the Husainids , the descendants of Beis Husain I (1705–1735) from Anatolia, survived the longest . Until 1837 the Husainiden-Beis carried the Ottoman title of Beilerbei ("Lord of the Lords"), since then the title of " Bei and owner of the Kingdom of Tunis", which they combined with the style "Highness" and which was confirmed in 1871 by the Ottoman Sultan . In 1881, Muhammad III. as-Sadiq Pascha Bei (1859–1882) forced to recognize the French "protectorate" ( protectorate ). Unlike Algeria, France left the local ruling dynasty officially in office, but controlled the Husainid Beis through a general resident (protectorate administrator).

In 1943 - a unique case - the "Free French" de Gaulle put down the case of Muhammad VII. Al-Munsef alias Moncef Bey (1942–1943; † 1948) on charges of being a supporter of the Vichy regime . His cousin and successor Muhammad VIII. Al-Amin (1943–1957) was not only the last Bey of Tunis under the French protectorate, but - after the proclamation of Tunisia's independence - also the first and only king of Tunisia (March 1956 to July 1957) before the actual new ruler, Prime Minister Habib Bourguiba, proclaimed the republic. The Ex In and ex-king died under house arrest 1,962th

See also

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d P. Jackson: Beg . In: Encyclopaedia Iranica , Online Edition, 1989
  3. G. Doerfer: Turkish and Mongolian elements in New Persian. Wiesbaden, 1963-1975, Volume II, pp. 377-379, 389-406, 411-413
  4. P. Golden: Turks and Iranians: An historical sketch. In S. Agcagül, V. Karam, L. Johanson, C. Bulut: Turkic-Iranian Contact Areas: Historical and Linguistic Aspects. Harrassowit, 2006, p. 19 ff.
  5. By law no. 2590 of November 26, 1934 on the cancellation of the salutations and titles "Efendi", "Bey", "Pascha" and the like, RG No. 2867 of November 29, 1934 ( online ).