The Old Booksmith

The Ancestors of Prince Rodion Cantacuzene

Some years ago, I stumbled onto the connection between Julia Dent Grant, granddaughter of General & President Ulysses S. Grant, and the Princes Cantacuzene, who descend from the sovereign voivodes of Wallachia. The most prominent of these medieval warlords were Vlad Dracul — the Devil — and his son, Vlad Tepes — the Impaler. ("Dracul" is often translated "the Dragon," but this is literary license.) The former acquired his nickname from his fierceness in battle against the Turkish overlords, who said he was cursed to rise from the grave each sunset. The latter got his name from his thoroughly bloodthirsty habit of impaling his defeated enemies . . . as well as those of his family who appeared to threaten him, and occasionally even his friends if he was in a bad mood.

Later chroniclers confused the two; the apparently "unnaturally" doubled lifespan, added to their joint reputation, led to the vampire legend. (At least, after a number of years of intermittant study, that's how I interpret the matter.) In any case, as a Southerner, I can't help but comment on the appropriateness of the fact that Gen. Grant and "Count Dracula" are (distant) inlaws. . . .

Capt. Rodion Cantacuzene, U.S. Navy Retired, whom I think is still alive, is the senior living descendant of the House of Bassarab. The following narrative Ahnentafel traces his known lineage back to the foundations of the house in the Thirteenth Century.

Generation One

1. Prince Rodion1 Cantacuzene (Michael, #2); born 22 October 1928 Chicago, Illinois; married Melissa Macneille 24 September 1960 Ellicott City, Maryland. He was a Captain in the U.S. Navy.

Generation Two

2. Prince Michael2 Cantacuzene (Mikhail, #4); born 21 July 1900 St. Petersburg, Russia; married 1st Clarissa Curtis (see #3), daughter of Thomas Pelham Curtis and Frances Kellogg Small, 26 June 1921 Nahant, Massachusetts; he and Clarissa Curtis were divorced 1935; married 2nd Florence Bushnell Carr 1941 Libertyville, Illinois; married 3rd Florence Clarke Hale circa 1970; he died 25 December 1972 Lake Forest, Illinois.
    Count Speransky.

    Children of Prince Michael2 Cantacuzene and Clarissa Curtis (see #3) both born Chicago, Illinois, were as follows:

           i. Princess Irina1 Cantacuzene; born 30 December 1925.

        1 ii. Prince Rodion Cantacuzene.

3. Clarissa2 Curtis (Thomas, #6); born 27 November 1899 Boston, Massachusetts; married as his 1st wife Prince Michael Cantacuzene (see #2), son of Prince Mikhail Cantacuzene and Julia Dent Grant, 26 June 1921 Nahant, Massachusetts; she and Prince Michael Cantacuzene were divorced 1935; she died 30 August 1939 New York, New York.

Generation Three

4. Prince Mikhail3 Cantacuzene (Nikolai, #8); born 29 April 1875 Odessa, Russia; married Julia Dent Grant (see #5), daughter of Major-General Frederick Dent Grant and Ida Marie Honoré, 25 September 1899 Newport, Rhode Island; he and Julia Dent Grant were divorced 1934; he died 25 March 1955 Sarasota, Florida.
    Count Speransky. He was a Major-General and Chief of Staff to His Imperial Highness Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia (Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armies).

    Children of Prince Mikhail3 Cantacuzene and Julia Dent Grant (see #5) were:

        2 i. Prince Michael2 Cantacuzene.

5. Julia Dent3 Grant (Frederick, #10); born 7 June 1876 White House, Washington, D.C; married Prince Mikhail Cantacuzene (see #4), son of Prince Nikolai Cantacuzene and Elizabeth Siscard, 25 September 1899 Newport, Rhode Island; she and Prince Mikhail Cantacuzene were divorced October 1934; died 4 October 1975 Washington, D.C.

6. Thomas Pelham3 Curtis; married Frances Kellogg Small (see #7).

    Children of Thomas Pelham3 Curtis and Frances Kellogg Small (see #7) were:

        3 i. Clarissa2 Curtis.

7. Frances Kellogg3 Small; married Thomas Pelham Curtis (see #6).

Generation Four

8. Prince Nikolai4 Cantacuzene (Rodion, #16); married Elizabeth Siscard (see #9).
    He was apparently also known as "Michael" (or this may be only a difference between the sources consulted).
    Count Speransky 1865–??, so created by Tsar Alexander II.

    Known children of Prince Nikolai4 Cantacuzene and Elizabeth Siscard (see #9) were:

        4 i. Prince Mikhail3 Cantacuzene.

9. Elizabeth4 Siscard; married Prince Nikolai Cantacuzene (see #8), son of Prince Rodion Cantacuzene.

10. Major-General Frederick Dent4 Grant (Ulysses, #20); born 30 May 1850 St. Louis, Missouri; married Ida Marie Honoré (see #11), daughter of Henry Hamilton Honoré and Elizabeth Carr, 20 October 1874 Chicago, Illinois; died 11 April 1912 New York, New York; buried at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.
    He served in the Civil War and the War with Spain, and was U.S. Minister to Austria-Hungary, 1889–1893.

    Children of Major-General Frederick Dent4 Grant and Ida Marie Honoré (see #11) were:

        5 i. Julia Dent3 Grant.

11. Ida Marie4 Honoré (Henry, #22); born 4 June 1854 Louisville, Kentucky; married Major-General Frederick Dent Grant (see #10), son of General Ulysses S. Grant, 20 October 1874 Chicago, Illinois; died 1930 Washington, D.C.

Generation Five

16. Prince Rodion5 Cantacuzene (Nikolai, #32). Recognized as a Prince of the Russian Empire by Tsar Alexander II in 1865.

    Known children of Prince Rodion5 Cantacuzene and an unknown spouse were:

        8 i. Prince Nikolai4 Cantacuzene.

20. General Ulysses S.5 Grant; born 27 April 1822 Point Pleasant, Clermont County, Ohio; died 23 July 1885 Mount McGregor, New York; buried in Grant's Tomb, Riverside Park, New York, New York.
    President of the United States, 1869–1877.

    Eldest son of General Ulysses S.5 Grant was:

        10 i. Major-General Frederick Dent4 Grant.

    [NOTE: I have not included the other children of Gen. Grant and all their descendants as their lines are not germane to this lineage.]

22. Henry Hamilton5 Honoré; married Elizabeth Carr (see #23).

    Children of Henry Hamilton5 Honoré and Elizabeth Carr (see #23) were:

        11 i. Ida Marie4 Honoré.

23. Elizabeth5 Carr; married Henry Hamilton Honoré (see #22).

Generation Six

32. Prince Nikolai6 Cantacuzene (Rodion, #64) Became a Russian subject.

    Known children of Prince Nikolai6 Cantacuzene and an unknown spouse were:

        16 i. Prince Rodion5 Cantacuzene.

Generation Seven

64. Prince Rodion7 Cantacuzene (Matthei, #128); died Russia.

    Known children of Prince Rodion7 Cantacuzene and an unknown spouse were:

        32 i. Prince Nikolai6 Cantacuzene.

Generation Eight

128. Prince Matthei8 Cantacuzene (Pirvoul, #256).

    Known children of Prince Matthei8 Cantacuzene and an unknown spouse were:

        64 i. Prince Rodion7 Cantacuzene.

Generation Nine

256. Prince Pirvoul9 Cantacuzene (Draguitch, #512).

    Known children of Prince Pirvoul9 Cantacuzene and an unknown spouse were:

        128 i. Prince Matthei8 Cantacuzene.

Generation Ten

512. Prince Draguitch10 Cantacuzene (Constantin, #1024).

    Known children of Prince Draguitch10 Cantacuzene and Elena Bessaraba (see #513) were:

        256 i. Prince Pirvoul9 Cantacuzene.

513. Elena10 Bessaraba (Radu Serban, #1026); married Prince Constantin Cantacuzene (see #1024).

Generation Eleven

1024. Prince Constantin11 Cantacuzene; married Elena Bessaraba (see #513), daughter of Radu IX Serban.

    The Princes Cantacuzene claim a somewhat doubtful descent from the Byzantine family of that name, which produced John VI, Emperor of the East 1347–1354.

    Known children of Prince Constantin11 Cantacuzene and Elena Bessaraba (see #513) were:

        512 i. Prince Draguitch10 Cantacuzene.

1025. Elena11 Bessaraba (Radu Serban, #1026); married Prince Constantin Cantacuzene (see #1024).

1026. Radu IX11 Serban (Mihnea, #2052); died 1611.
    Voivode of Wallachia 1602–1610 & 1611; last male of the House of Bassaraba, which had provided the Sovereign Voivodes of Wallachia for 300 years.

    Known children of Radu IX11 Serban and an unknown spouse were as follows:

        513 i. Elena10 Bessaraba.

Generation Twelve

2052. Mihnea II12 (Alexander, #4104); died 1591.
    Voivode of Wallachia 1577–1583 & 1585–1591.

    Known children of Mihnea II12 and an unknown spouse were as follows:

        1026 i. Radu IX11 Serban.

Generation Thirteen

4104. Alexander II13 (Mircea, #8208); died 1577.
    Voivode of Wallachia 1568–1577.

    Children of Alexander II13 and an unknown spouse were as follows:

        2052 i. Mihnea II12

Generation Fourteen

8208. Mircea III14 (Mihnea, #16416); married Despina (see #8209); died 1560.
    Voivode of Wallachia 1545–1554 & 1557–1560.

    Known children of Mircea III14 and Despina (see #8209) were:

        4104 i. Alexander II13

8209. Despina14; married Mircea III (see #8208), son of Mihnea I "The Bad."
    Princess of Moldavia.

Generation Fifteen

16416. Mihnea I15 "The Bad" (Vlad Tepes, #32832); illegitimate; died 1510.
    Voivode of Wallachia 1508–1510.

    Known children of Mihnea I15 "The Bad" and an unknown spouse were as follows:

        8208 i. Mircea III14

Generation Sixteen

32832. Vlad IV16 Tepes "The Impaler" (Vlad Dracul, #65664); died 1477.
    Voivode of Wallachia 1456–1462 & 1476–1477.

    Known children of Vlad IV16 Tepes "The Impaler" and an unknown spouse were as follows:

        16416 i. Mihnea I15 "The Bad."

Generation Seventeen

65664. Vlad III17 Dracul "The Devil" (Mircea, #131328); died 1446.
    Voivode of Wallachia 1435–1446.

    Known children of Vlad III17 Dracul "The Devil" and an unknown spouse were as follows:

          32832 i. Vlad IV16 Tepes "The Impaler."

                    ii. Radu III; died 1474.
                            Voivode of Wallachia 1462–1474.

                   iii. Vlad V "The Monk;" died 1495.
                            Voivode of Wallachia 1482–1495.

Generation Eighteen

131328. Mircea I18 (Radu, #262656); died 1418.
    Voivode of Wallachia 1386–1418.

    Known children of Mircea I18 and an unknown spouse were as follows:

                   i. Michael I17; died 1420.
                        Voivode of Wallachia 1418–1420.

        65664 ii. Vlad III Dracul "The Devil."

Generation Nineteen

262656. Radu I19 (Nicholas, #525312)
    Voivode of Wallachia 1380–??

    Known children of Radu I19 and an unknown spouse were as follows:

                      i. Dan I18; died 1386.
                            Voivode of Wallachia ??–1386.

        131328 ii. Mircea I.

Generation Twenty

525312. Nicholas II20 (Basarab, #1050624); died 1364.

    Voivode of Wallachia 1340–1364.

    Children of Nicholas II20 and an unknown spouse were as follows:

                      i. Vlad I19; died 1380.
                            He was also known as Vlaicu I. Voivode of Wallachia 1364–1380.

        262656 ii. Radu I.

Generation Twenty-One

1050624. Basarab21 (Seneslav, #2101248); died 1340.
    Voivode of Wallachia 1330–1340.

    Children of Basarab21 and an unknown spouse were as follows:

        525312 i. Nicholas II20.

Generation Twenty-Two

2101248. Seneslav22
    Voivode of Wallachia 1247–??

    Children of Seneslav22 and an unknown spouse were as follows:

                        i. Tugomir21; died 1330.
                               Voivode of Wallachia ??–1330.

        1050624 ii. Basarab.


Burke's Presidential Families of the United States of America. 2d ed. London: Burke's Peerage Limited, 1981.

Formhals, Robert W. "Pedigree of Certain Descendants of Vlad Dracula Active in 1970 in the Order of St. John." Unpublished manuscript.

"Julia Dent Grant" & "Prince Mikhail Cantacuzène." Wikipedia (3/15/10).

"A Princely Descent: Vlad III Dracula." Forebears 15 (1972):38-39.

Walker, Rodney C. "Would You Rather Be Impaled or Bitten, or Does It Make Any Difference?" The Augustan 11 (1968?):6–11.