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Kantemir, Dmitry (Konstantinovich)

Romanian DIMITRIE CANTEMIR (b. Nov. 5 [Oct. 26, Old Style], 1673, Orhei or Falciu, Moldavia [now Falciu, Rom.]--d. Sept. 1 [Aug. 21], 1723, Dmitrovka, near Kharkov, Russia [now in Ukraine]), statesman and scientist, the greatest member of the distinguished Romanian-Russian family of Cantemir. He was prince of Moldavia (1710-11) and later imperial chancellor of Peter the Great of Russia.

The son of Prince Constantin Cantemir of Moldavia, Kantemir early won the favour of his country's Turkish overlords and hoped eventually to unite the principalities of Moldavia and Walachia under his rule. Named prince of Moldavia in 1710, he soon allied himself with Russia (April 1711), believing Turkish power to be nearing its end. Sharp Russian reverses in the ensuing Russo-Turkish war, however, caused him to flee to Russia, where he settled and was made imperial chancellor and a prince of the empire by Peter the Great. Versed in 11 languages, Kantemir wrote prolifically on Romanian and Ottoman history; his Historia Incrementorum atque Decrementorum aulae Othomanicae (1716; History of the Growth and Decay of the Othman Empire) provided the first serious history of the Ottoman Empire in any language. His other works include the first critical history of Moldavia-Walachia and the first comprehensive descriptions of Moldavia's geography, ethnography, and economy. He was elected a member of the Berlin Academy for his scientific work in 1714, and he also helped found the Academy of Sciences at St. Petersburg.

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