Cantacczenus, Or Cantacnzene, the name of a distinguished Grseco-Wallachian family, claiming direct descent from the Byzantine emperor John Cantacuzenus. They have for several centuries occupied a prominent position, generally in connection with the affairs of the Danubian dependencies of Turkey. I. Serban, waywode of Wallachia, under the title of Serban II., born about 1640, died in 1688. His father, Con-stantine, had married the daughter of Serban I., and had acquired an influence in the principality which roused the fear of Gregory Ghika, a way wode in his time. Constantine was assassinated, but his death only served to direct the popular indignation against Gregory, and to contribute to the advancement of Serban. Gregory, who betrayed his suzerain, the sultan, soon after fled from the country, but was reinstated on the fall of his successor Drakula, and the Cantacuzene family was exposed to long-continued persecutions; but after some years Ghika was again deposed, and Serban returned, became prime minister, and in 1679 was appointed waywode. He improved the administration of justice, and promoted industry and education; but finding all his plans for the advancement of the country defeated by Turkish oppression, he formed a plan to secure the independence of the principality.
He took advantage of the defeat of the Turks before Vienna, where he and his countrymen assisted the enemy while pretending to aid the Ottoman army, to enter into negotiations with Germany and Russia, both powers giving him hopes of assistance. He raised a considerable army, but died on' the eve of executing his schemes. II. Demetrius, brother of the preceding, hospodar of Moldavia, appointed in 1673. He had to contend with rivals, and his weakness and tyranny rendered him so odious to the Moldavians that in 1679 they revolted against his government and obliged him to take refuge in Poland. Though in disfavor at the Turkish court, he was in 1684 restored to power by the sultan's aid; but in 1685 the grand vizier Ibrahim Pasha finally removed him from his office. HI. Stephen, waywode of Wallachia, appointed in 1714. His intrigues with the court of Vienna, having for their object the release of the principality from the Turkish yoke, excited suspicion at Constantinople, and he was arrested, deposed, and executed in 1716. IV. Alexander and George, officers in the army of Russia, in which country the family had taken up their residence after the execution of Stephen, distinguished themselves as members of the Hetaeria before and during the Greek revolution of 1821. They served in Moldavia under Ypsilanti; and both wrote accounts of the conflict, and works in aid of the cause.