Michael IV the Paphlagonian

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Michael IV the Paphlagonian (Greek: Μιχαὴλ (Δ´) ὁ Παφλαγὼν, Mikhaēl ho Paphlagōn; 1010 – 10 December 1041) was Byzantine Emperor from 11 April 1034 to his death on 10 December 1041. He owed his elevation to Empress Zoe, daughter of Emperor Constantine VIII and wife of Romanos III Argyros.


Early life and career

Michael came from a family of Paphlagonian peasants, one of whom, the parakoimomenos John the Eunuch had come to preside over the woman's quarters at the imperial palace.[2] John brought his younger brothers into the court and there the empress Zoe became enamoured of the youngest, Michael, who became her chamberlain in 1033. Prior to his court appointment, Michael was originally a money-changer,[1] but it was believed that he was also secretly a forger of false coins.[3]

The two soon became lovers.[4] Zoe flaunted Michael openly, and spoke about making him emperor. Hearing the rumours, Romanos was concerned and confronted Michael,[3] but he denied the accusations, swearing his innocence on some holy relics.[5] Then, on April 11, 1034, Zoe’s husband, Romanos III was found dead in his bath.[4] Rumours soon began circulating that Zoe and Michael had decided to use a slow poison to kill him.[6] However, becoming impatient with the poison Michael had had him strangled or drowned.[7][8] Adding weight to the rumours was the speed with which Zoe and Michael were married, on the very day that Romanos III died.[4]

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