Șerban Cantacuzino

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Șerban Cantacuzino

Șerban Cantacuzino (Romanian pronunciation: [ʃerˈban kantakuziˈno]; 1640–1688) was a Prince of Wallachia between 1678 and 1688.[1]

He took part in the Ottoman campaign ending in their defeat at the Battle of Vienna.[1] At the same time, it is alleged that he conceived a plan for a march on Constantinople, planning to drive the Ottomans out of Europe, counting on support from major European states. During the siege of Vienna, after being forced to join the war alongside the Ottoman Empire, he sabotaged his Turkish "allies" by warning the Austrians beforehand about the siege. He was also informing them about the Ottoman plans, movements and tactics (in a hidden tunnel beneath the city's walls), stalling bridge repairs across the Danube (since before that the Turks considered the Wallachians unreliable when it came to war matters) and finally ordering his men to put hay & straw inside the Turkish cannons so that the damage on the walls of Vienna would be minimized. He also planted a cross with a double meaning in which he offered morale support to the besieged Austrians while at the same time, avoid Ottoman suspicion. As a result he received praise from General Wallenstein and the Habsburg Emperor himself and also earned the title of "Defender (or Count) of the Holy Roman Empire". Thanks to his contributions and the Polish intervention, Vienna was saved. The Imperials therefore promised him the throne to Constantinople after the Turks were driven out.

Cantacuzino introduced maize to Wallachia and present-day Romania,[1] in time the staple food - it was not yet extensively cultivated during his reign. He agreed to the establishment of various printing presses, and ordered the famous Romanian edition of the Bible (the Cantacuzino Bible), first published in Bucharest (1688).[1]

His son Gheorghe Cantacuzino later ruled as Ban of Oltenia, and was married to Ruxandra Rosetti.

He died suddenly, and there is further speculation that he was in fact poisoned by boyars who resented his vast, unrealistic and dangerous projects (presumably by his brother and nephew). His descendants include members of the Rosetti family, and the Romanian actor, Șerban Cantacuzino.[1][2]

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Preceded by
George Ducas
Prince of Wallachia
1678–1688
Succeeded by
Constantin Brâncoveanu