Originally, the title of ruler of small tribal groups among Turkish peoples. The title was also bestowed upon members of ruling families and important officials.
During the Ottoman Empire the ruler was called “bey” until 1394, when Bayezid 1 was given the right to call himself “sultan” by the shadow caliph in Cairo.
But the title “bey” didn’t dissappear, and came to be used by governors of a province. The bey was an important figure, often autonomous from the sultans in Istanbul (before 1453 Bursa and Edirne). The bey even had his own flag. From 1705, “bey” became the title of the sovereign of Tunisia.
Over time, “bey” became used in more and more forms, and all over the Ottoman Empire it was used in a similar way to “sir” in English. After the introduction of the Turkish republic, its use was even reduced to a form similar to “Mr.” in English.


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