(1) An aristocratic Byzantine family (Kantakuzenoi) that rose to eminence at the end of the 11th century. The Cantacuzeni acquired particular influence at the beginning of the 14th century. They owned estates in Thrace and in the Peloponnesus. One of the Cantacuzeni was viceroy of the Peloponnesus, and his son became emperor (John VI Cantacuzene). Of the sons of John VI, Manuel received the Peloponnesus (Morea) as an appanage, and Matthew received Thrace. After Manuel’s death (1380) the Cantacuzeni held on to Morea for a brief time, but in 1381 (or 1382) they were compelled to yield it to the Palaeologi.
(2) An aristocratic Walachian family (Cantacuzino), which traced its origin back to the Byzantine family of Cantacuzeni, some of whose members entered the service of the Turks after the fall of Byzantium (mid-15th century). Serban Cantacuzino (1640–88) was hospodar of Walachia from 1678. In the early 18th century many members of the Cantacuzino family moved from Walachia to Russia. During the 19th and early 20th centuries the Cantacuzinos occupied prominent political posts in Rumania.