Matthew Asen Kantakouzenos or Cantacuzenus (Greek: Ματθαῖος Ἀσάνης Καντακουζηνός, Matthaios Asanēs Kantakouzēnos, c. 1325 – 1383 or 1391) was Byzantine Emperor from 1353 to 1357 and later Despot of the Morea from 1380 to 1383.
|Matthew Asen Kantakouzenos|
|Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans|
|Predecessor||John V Palaiologos and John VI Kantakouzenos|
|Successor||John V Palaiologos|
|Despot of the Morea|
|Successor||Demetrios I Kantakouzenos|
|Died||1383 or 1391|
|Father||John VI Kantakouzenos|
Matthew Asanes Kantakouzenos was the son of Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos and Irene Asanina. In return for the support he gave to his father during his struggle with John V Palaiologos, he was given part of Thrace as an appanage in 1347, and was proclaimed joint emperor in 1353, when open civil war broke out again with John V.
From his Thracian domain, centred on Gratzianous, he led several wars against the Serbs. An attack, which he prepared in 1350, was frustrated by the defection of his Turkish auxiliaries. However, with five thousand Turks he tried to re-establish his former appanage along the Serbian-Byzantine border by attacking this region but failed to take Serres and soon was defeated in battle in late 1356 or early 1357 by a Serb army under Vojvoda Vojihna, the holder of Drama, a major fortress in the vicinity. The Serbs captured Matthew with the intention of releasing him when he had raised the large ransom they demanded. However John V, who had rapidly moved in to occupy Matthew's lands, offered Vojihna an even larger sum to turn Matthew over to him.
After imprisoning Matthew first on Tenedos, then on Lesbos under the watchful eye of Francesco I Gattilusio, John forced him to renounce the imperial title, John then released him to go to the Morea, where he joined his brother Manuel, who was ruling there (1361). After his brother's death in 1380, Matthew Asanes Kantakouzenos governed the Morea until the appointment of the new governor Theodore I Palaiologos, in 1381, and his arrival in 1382. Before full transition of power in the Morea, from the Kantakouzenos family to that of Palaiologos, Matthew resigned his power in the Morea to his son Demetrios I Kantakouzenos.
- Donald M. Nicol, The Byzantine Family of Kantakouzenos (Cantacuzenus) ca. 1100-1460: a Genealogical and Prosopographical Study (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 1968), pp. 121f, 156-164
- Donald M. Nicol, The Byzantine Family of Kantakouzenos: Some Addenda and Corrigenda, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 27 (1973), p. 312-3
- Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991). The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-504652-8.
- Nicol, Donald M. (1968). The Byzantine Family of Kantakouzenos (Cantacuzenus), ca. 1100–1460: A Genealogical and Prosopographical Study. Dumbarton Oaks studies 11. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies. OCLC 390843.
- Nicol, Donald M. (1993). The Last Centuries of Byzantium, 1261–1453 (Second ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-43991-6.
- Nicol, Donald M. (1996). The Reluctant Emperor: A Biography of John Cantacuzene, Byzantine Emperor and Monk, c. 1295-1383. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521522014.