1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cantacuzino

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CANTACUZINO, Cantacuzen or Cantacuzene, the name of a family which traces its origin to the Byzantine emperors and writers of the same name (see under John V., Cantacuzene). The founder of the family, Andronik, migrated to Rumania in 1633, and from his two sons Constantine and Gheorge sprang the two principal lines which afterwards branched into numerous families of nobles and high dignitaries, including hospodars (rulers) of Walachia and Moldavia. The Cantacuzinos were represented in every branch of administration and in the world of letters. Under their influence the Rumanian language and literature in the 17th century reached their highest development. Among the more prominent members of the family the following may be mentioned, (1) Sherban Cantacuzino (1640–1688), appointed hospodar of Walachia in 1679. He served under the Turks in the siege of Vienna, and when they were defeated it is alleged that he conceived the plan of marching on Constantinople to drive the Turks out of Europe, the western powers having promised him their moral support. In the midst of his preparations he died suddenly, poisoned, it is said, by the boyars who were afraid of his vast plans. Far more important was his activity in economic and literary directions. He introduced the maize into Rumania; it is now the staple food of the country. He founded the first Rumanian school in Bucharest; he assisted liberally in the establishment of various printing offices; and under his auspices the famous Rumanian Bible appeared in Bucharest in 1688. Through his influence also the Slavonic language was officially and finally abolished from the liturgy and the Rumanian language substituted for it. (2) Stefan Cantacuzino, son of Constantine, prince of Walachia, 1714–1716. (3) Demetrius Cantacuzino, prince of Moldavia, 1674–1676. He left an unsatisfactory record. Descendants of Demetrius and Sherban have emigrated to Russia, and held high positions there as governors of Bessarabia and in other responsible posts. (4) Of the Moldavian Cantacuzinos, Theodore is well known as a chronicler of his times (c. 1740). (5) Gheorge Cantacuzino (b. 1837), son of Gregori (1800–1849). He was appointed in 1870 minister of public instruction in Rumania; in 1889, president of the chamber; in 1892, president of the senate; from 1899 he was head of the Conservative party, and from 1905 to 1907 prime minister (see also Rumania: History).  (M. G.)