Kantakouzenos

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Kantakouzenos
CountryByzantine Empire
Despotate of the Morea
Founded11th century
FounderJohn Kantakouzenos
TitlesByzantine Emperor, Despot
Cadet branchesCantacuzino

The house of Kantakouzenos (pl. Kantakouzenoi; Greek: Καντακουζηνός, pl. Καντακουζηνοί), Latinized as Cantacuzenus and anglicized as Cantacuzene, was one of the most prominent Greek noble families of the Byzantine Empire in the last centuries of its existence. The family was one of the Empire's wealthiest and provided several prominent governors and generals, as well as two Byzantine emperors. The Kantakouzenoi intermarried extensively with other Byzantine noble families such as the Palaiologoi, the Philanthropenoi, the Asen, and the Tarchaneiotes. The feminine form of the name is Kantakouzene (Greek: Καντακουζηνή), Latinized as Cantacuzena.

Etymology[edit]

The origin of the family's surname, to follow Donald Nicol, "lies between romantic guesswork and philological conjecture."[1] Prince Michael Cantacuzino, an 18th-century Romanian aristocrat of the Cantacuzino family who traced his ancestry to this Byzantine family, provides examples of the first kind, such as the family began with a certain "Lucie Cusin" who married one "Serafina Catina", and united their familial names into the compound one of "Ca(n)tacuzino". Nicol prefers the second kind of explanation, and repeats the theory of Konstantinos Amantos that Kantakouzenos derives from κατὰ-κουζηνᾶν or κατὰ-κουζηνόν, ultimately from the locality of Kouzenas, a name for the southern part of Mount Sipylus near Smyrna. Nicol lists some connections the Kantakouzenos had with the locale in the 11th and 13th centuries.[2]

History[edit]

The Kantakouzenoi first appear in the reign of Alexios I Komnenos, when a member of the family campaigned against the Cumans.[3] In the Komnenian period, members of the family are attested as military officials: the sebastos John Kantakouzenos was killed in the Battle of Myriokephalon, while his probable grandson, the Caesar John Kantakouzenos, married Irene Angelina, the sister of Isaac II Angelos. By the time of the Fourth Crusade, the Kantakouzenoi were among the greatest landholders in the Empire.[3]

They remained prominent in the Palaiologan period. Michael Kantakouzenos was appointed governor of the Morea in 1308 and his son, John VI Kantakouzenos, rose to be megas domestikos, regent, and eventually emperor (1341–1354) before resigning and retiring to a monastery after a failed civil war.[4] John VI's eldest son Matthew also reigned as his co-emperor and as a pretender (1353–1357) before being captured and forced to resign as well. John's younger son Manuel Kantakouzenos remained despotes of the Morea from 1349 until 1380. Of John VI's daughters, Helena Kantakouzene married John and Matthew's rival John V Palaiologos (r. 1341–1391), Maria married Nikephoros II Orsini of Epirus, and Theodora married the Ottoman bey Orhan I.[3]

Matthew's two sons, John and Demetrios, ruled briefly the Morea.[3] It is generally believed that John, about whom relatively few documents have survived, died childless, and that the numerous Kantakouzenoi of the following generation, as well as the historian Theodore Spandounes and the wife of genealogist Hugues Busac, trace their descent from Matthew through Demetrios.[5] The possible descendants of Demetrios (the exact parentage is uncertain) were Georgios, called "Sachatai"; Andronikos, the last megas domestikos of the Byzantine Empire; Irene, who married Đurađ Branković; Thomas, who served in Branković's court; Helena, who became the second wife of David of Trebizond; and an unnamed daughter, who may have become queen of Georgia.[6]

See also[edit]

Family tree of the Imperial House of Kantakouzenos[edit]

Kantakouzenos
sonsonson
John
sebastos
∞ Maria Komnene
(daughter of Andronikos Komnenos)
John
Caesar
∞ Irene Angelina
(daughter of Andronikos Angelos)
Michael
∞ Angelina (daughter of John Doukas)
Manouel
pinkernes of Nicaea
Michael
megas konostaulos
John
pinkernes, duke of the Thracesian Theme
∞ Irene Palaiologina
(daughter of Andronikos Palaiologos)
Michael
governor of the Morea
∞ Theodora
son
Theodora
∞ 1.George Mouzalon
megas logothetes
2.John Raoul
Maria
∞ 1.Alexios Philes
2.Konstantin Tih of Bulgaria
3.Ivaylo of Bulgaria
Anna
Nikephoros I Angelos
despot of Epirus
John VI
Byzantine Emperor (1347-1354)
Irene Asan-Mitso
(daughter of Andronikos Asen)
(daughter)
(Guy) Konstantine II
king of Armenia
Nikephoros
sebastokrator
Demetrios
mesazon
Matthew
Byzantine Co-Emperor (1353-1357)
Irene Palaiologina
Manuel
despot of the Morea
∞ Zambia/Isabelle de Lusignan
(daughter of (Guy) Constantine II
king of Armenia)
Maria
Nikephoros II Orsini
despot of Epirus
Theodora
Orhan
emir of Bithynia
Helena
John V Palaiologos
HOUSE OF PALAIOLOGOS
Theodora
Alexios III of Trebizond
Theodore KantakouzenosJohn
despot
Demetrios I Kantakouzenos[7]
despot of the Morea
Helena
∞ don Louis Fadrique
count of Salona, etc
HalilIrene Palaiologina
John/Janja
noble in Novo Brdo of Serbia
Demetrius
writer in Serbia
Theodora
Alexios IV of Trebizond
George Sachatai
general
Andronikos
megas domestikos
Thomas
Serbian magnate, general
Irene
Đurađ Branković
despot of Serbia
Helena
David of Trebizond
daughter
George VIII of Georgia
Manuel usurper
administrator of Mani
DemetriosZoe
∞ James II de Flory
office in Cyprus
Anna
Vladislav Hercegović
duke of Saint Sava in Herzegovina
daughter
MichaelCharola de Flory
∞ Hugue Buzak
Eudokia
DemetriosTheodore Spandounes
historian
Michael Şeytanoğlu
PHANARIOTE-ROMANIAN BRANCH
princes of Wallachia & Moldavia

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nicol (1968), p. viii
  2. ^ Nicol (1968), pp. viiif
  3. ^ a b c d Kazhdan (1991), p. 1103
  4. ^ Kazhdan (1991), pp. 1103, 1050
  5. ^ Nicol (1968), p. 159
  6. ^ Kazhdan (1991), p. 1104
  7. ^ Donald Nicol later considered it more likely that Demetrios' offspring actually belonged to Theodore Kantakouzenos, who may have been either Demetrios' son, brother, or nephew. Brook, Lindsay L. (1989). "The Problematic Ascent of Eirene Kantakouzene Brankovič". Studies in Genealogy and Family History in Tribute to Charles Evans on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday. Salt Lake City, Utah : Association for the Promotion of Scholarship in Genealogy. p. 6.

Sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]