Cantacuzene [key], noble Romanian family of Greek origin, tracing its descent from the Byzantine emperor John VI (John Cantacuzene). Under Ottoman rule members of the family were among the Phanariots (see under Phanar) who governed Walachia and Moldavia. By the mid-17th cent., part of the family had settled in Walachia. A Russian branch of the family held high positions in the army and as governors of Bessarabia. Serban Cantacuzene, 1640–88, hospodar [governor] of Walachia (1678–88), took part in the Ottoman siege of Vienna (1683), outwardly on the side of the Ottomans but in reality supplying intelligence information to the Austrians and conducting secret negotiations with them. He was poisoned, probably because of his pro-Austrian feelings. During his rule Romanian was substituted for Slavonic as the liturgical language, and the first Romanian Bible was printed (1688) under his auspices. George Cantacuzene, 1837–1913, the head of the Romanian Conservative party, held several important government posts, most notably the premiership (1905–7).
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