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Michael IV

Michael IV, "the Paphlagonian," (in Greek Μιχαήλ Παφλαγών, meaning "from the province of Paphlagonia") was Byzantine emperor from April 11, 1034 to December 10, 1041. He owed his elevation to Empress Zoë, daughter of Constantine VIII and wife of Romanus III, but becoming enamoured of Michael, her chamberlain, poisoned her husband and immediately married her attendant, both in 1034.

Michael, however, being of a weak character and subject to epileptic fits, left the government in the hands of his brother, John the Eunuch, who had been first minister of Constantine and Romanus. John's reforms of the army and financial system revived for a while the strength of the Empire, which held its own successfully against its foreign enemies.

On the eastern frontier the important post of Edessa was relieved after a prolonged siege. The western Saracens were almost driven out of Sicily by George Maniaces (1038-1040); but an expedition against the Italian Normans suffered several defeats, and after the recall of Maniaces most of the Sicilian conquests were lost (1041).

In the north the Serbs achieved a successful revolt (1040), but a dangerous rising by the Bulgarians and Slavs which threatened the cities of Thrace and Macedonia was repressed by a triumphant campaign which the decrepit emperor undertook in person shortly before his death on December 10, 1041.

Preceded by:
Romanus III
Byzantine emperors Followed by:
Michael V

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.