Born in the purple
Traditionally, born in the purple was a category of members of royal families born during the reign of their parent. This notion was loosely expanded to include all children born of prominent or high-ranking parents; the parents must be prominent at the time of the child's birth so that the child is always in the spotlight and destined for a prominent role in life. A child born before the parents become prominent would not be "born in the purple"; this color purple came to refer to Tyrian purple, restricted by law and the expense of creating it to royalty. Porphyrogénnētos was an honorific title in the Byzantine Empire given to a son, or daughter, born after the father had become emperor. In addition to this, the birth had to meet other conditions in order for the title to apply. Both imperial or Tyrian purple, a dye for cloth, the purple stone porphyry were rare and expensive, at times reserved for imperial use. In particular there was a room in the imperial Great Palace of Constantinople lined with porphyry, where reigning empresses gave birth.
The concept of porphyrogennetos was known from the sixth century in connection with growing ideas of hereditary legitimacy but the first secure use of the word is not found until 846. The term became common by the 10th century in connection with Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, its use continued into the Palaiologan period. Imperial purple was a luxury dye obtained from sea snails, used to colour cloth, its production was expensive, so the dye was used as a status symbol by the Romans e.g. a purple stripe on the togas of magistrates. By the Byzantine period the colour had become associated with the emperors, sumptuary laws restricted its use by anyone except the imperial household. Purple was thus seen as an imperial colour. Constantine VII, himself porphyrogénnētos, described the ceremonies which took place during the birth of a porphyrogénnētos child in his work De Ceremoniis aulae byzantinae; the most distinctive condition was that the child be born in the "Πορφύρα": no child born anywhere else could legitimately be called Porphyrogénnētos.
As the Porphyrogennētē Anna Komnena described it, the room rested on one of the Palace's many terraces, overlooking the Sea of Marmora and the Bosphorus Strait, "where the stone oxen and the lions stand", was in the form of a perfect square from floor to ceiling, with the latter ending in a pyramid. Its walls and ceiling were veneered with imperial porphyry, "generally of a purple colour throughout, but with white spots like sand sprinkled over it." The Palace of the Porphyrogenitus is a late 13th-century Byzantine palace in the north-western part of the old city of Constantinople named after Constantine Palaiologos. The purple chamber of the Imperial Palace was said by Anna Comnena to be "set apart long ago for an Empress's confinement" and, decorated with expensive porphyry; the other important qualification for status as a Porphyrogénnētos was that the father must be a reigning Basileus, the mother must be married to the Basileus and additionally must have undergone a formal, sacred ceremony creating her an Augusta.
In Imperial diplomacy a porphyrogénnēta bride was sometimes sent to seal a bargain, or a foreign princess may have gone to Constantinople to marry a porphyrogénnētos. Liutprand of Cremona, for instance, visited Constantinople in 968 on a diplomatic mission from Otto I to secure a purple-born bride for the prince who would become Otto II, in which mission he failed. A different bride who wasn't purple-born, Theophanu Skleraina, was subsequently acquired in 971. To be "born in the purple" is seen as a limitation to be escaped rather than a benefit or a blessing; the term refers to someone born with immense talent that shapes their career and forces them into paths they might not otherwise wish to follow. An obituary of the British composer Hubert Parry complains that his immense natural talent forced him to take on teaching and administrative duties that prevented him from composing in the manner that might have been allowed to someone who had to develop their talent. In this sense, the parent's prominence predetermines the child's role in life.
A royal child, for instance, is denied the opportunity to an ordinary life because of his parent's royal rank. An example of this usage can be seen in the following discussion comparing the German Kaiser William II with his grandfather, William I, his father, Frederick III: Compare this with his grandfather, the old Emperor, who, if he had not been born in the purple, could only have been a soldier, not, it must be added, one who could have held high commands. Compare him again with his father; the classic definition restricted use of the category to the legitimate offspring born to reigning monarchs after they ascended to the throne. It did not include children born prior to their parents' accession or, in an strict definition, their coronation. Crown prince Divine right of kings Dynasty Nepotism Royal and noble styles Royal prerogative Silver spoon Gilbert, Paul. Born in the Purple: The Priv
Constantine Dalassenos (duke of Antioch)
Constantine Dalassenos was a prominent Byzantine aristocrat of the first half of the 11th century. An experienced and popular general, he came close to ascending the imperial throne by marriage to the porphyrogenita Empress Zoe in 1028, he accompanied the man Zoe did marry, Emperor Romanos III Argyros, on campaign and was blamed by some chroniclers for Romanos' humiliating defeat at the Battle of Azaz. He suffered a long period of imprisonment under Michael IV the Paphlagonian, who feared that Dalassenos plotted against him; when Michael's successor was deposed in 1042, Zoe invited Dalassenos to an audience with a view to marrying him and making him emperor. Constantine may have been born at some point between 965 and 970, he was the eldest son of the magistros Damian Dalassenos, who held the important post of doux of Antioch from 995 or 996 until his death in battle against the Fatimids at Apamea in 998. Constantine, with his brothers Romanos and Theophylact, was present at the battle, he was one of the two sons of the magistros who, according to the Christian Arab historian Yahya of Antioch, were captured by the Fatimids, taken to Cairo, ransomed only in 1008.
Constantine's career between 1008 and 1024 is unknown, but historians speculate he held a succession of military commands. He reappears in spring 1024, when he held his father's old post as doux of Antioch, with the rank of patrikios, the Empire's senior honorific title, limited to a small number of holders, he enjoyed the favour of Emperor Constantine VIII. The Dalassenoi were one of the few powerful patrician families, unswervingly loyal to the Macedonian dynasty. On his deathbed, Constantine summoned Dalassenos to marry his oldest daughter Zoe. Constantine Dalassenos set out from his estates in the Armeniac Theme, but before reaching Constantinople the situation changed: the Emperor's advisors, who preferred a weak ruler whom they could control, had persuaded the dying Emperor to choose Romanos III Argyros instead. Dalassenos was ordered to return home. Under Romanos III, Dalassenos served as a commander in the 1030 campaign against the Emir of Aleppo which concluded in the Battle of Azaz.
After the Byzantine scouts were ambushed, Dalassenos led an attack against the Arabs, but was defeated, fled back to the camp. That night Dalassenos took part in an imperial council at which the demoralised Byzantines resolved to abandon the campaign and return to Byzantine territory. Romanos ordered his siege engines to be burned. On 10 August 1030 the army marched for Antioch. Discipline broke down in the Byzantine army, with Armenian mercenaries using the withdrawal as an opportunity to pillage the camp's stores; the Emir launched the imperial army broke and fled. Both Dalassenos and Romanos had close escapes during the rout. Arab sources and the chronicle of Matthew of Edessa blame Dalassenos and his conspiring against Romanos for the expedition's failure. During the reign of Argyros's successors, Michael IV the Paphlagonian and Michael V, Dalassenos emerged as the leader of the aristocratic opposition. Several prominent Anatolian families, notably the powerful Doukai, supported him. According to historian Michael Psellos, Dalassenos enjoyed strong support from the populace in Constantinople and in his old command, Antioch.
The accession of the low-born Michael IV enraged Dalassenos, who derided the new emperor as a vulgar and base-born. Michael's eunuch brother and chief minister, John the Orphanotrophos, attempted to neutralise him. With the promise of titles and honours, he tried to lure Dalassenos from his estates in the Armeniac Theme to Constantinople. Dalassenos at first refused, but after receiving assurances for his safety, guaranteed by an oath on some of the Empire's holiest relics, he left for the imperial capital, he was treated well, receiving a promotion and gifts, but in summer 1034 a revolt broke out in Antioch against the local governor, Michael IV's brother Niketas. The uprising was triggered by heavy taxation, but John the Orphanotrophos chose to blame it on the Dalassenoi: Constantine, his brothers and relatives and other nobles associated with them, including his son-in-law Constantine Doukas, were imprisoned or exiled. Constantine himself was first exiled to an island in the Sea of Marmara, but to prevent his escape, he was transferred to a tower in the Walls of Constantinople, along with Constantine Doukas, the future emperor.
His military expertise, continued to be so valued that John the Orphanotrophos considered sending him to his brother Constantine as a military advisor in a campaign against Abasgia. However, the emperor saw him as an arch-enemy and he remained imprisoned. A tradition has it that during Dalassenos's detention in the capital, who had yet to conceive a child, carried out a secret relationship with him in hopes of getting pregnant. At some point in 1041 Constantine was forced to become a monk; the accounts here are contradictory: Psellos writes that Michael V did this upon his accession in December, but Michael Attaleiates, in contrast, records that Michael V had Dalassenos liberated from confinement. After Michael V was deposed in a popular uprising in April 1042, Constantine VIII's daughters Zoe and Theodora were left as de facto rulers of the Byzantine Empire. Following both custom and her own inclination, Zoe decided to choo
In Ancient Greece, the gynaeceum or the gynaeconitis was a building or the portion of a house reserved for women the innermost apartment. In other words, a women's quarters, similar to the Muslim zenana; the gynaeceum is the counterpart to male quarters. The married woman of the household would join the unmarried women and the female slaves at night when she did not join her husband; the women spent most of their days in this area of the house. These rooms were more remote from those reserved for the men by placing them away from the streets and public areas of the house; when visitors were entertained the women were not present, but remained in this secluded portion of the house. A section of the imperial palace of Constantinople during the Greek Byzantine Empire reign was known as the gynaikonitis and was reserved to women, it had processions as well as political dynamics. In sorting through the remnants of residential architectural complexes found in sites such as Zagora and Olynthos archeologists have been able to explore the social dynamics of Ancient Greek society as it developed into the polis or city-state.
Archeologists have developed various perspectives on how architectural design was fundamentally utilized in the domination of women and the lower classes through various periods of history. The segregation of women from the public sphere through the addition of doors, limits of sight lines in between rooms, the addition of a courtyard, the addition of a second floor parallels the gradual evolution of the city-state; some would argue that the presence of women in the public sphere increased at a certain point through changes to dress and the increased use of the veil or hijab in some Muslim communities. The hijab or veil is seen by some researchers as an extension of the home and functions to protect women from the view of non-kin males; the domination of women through social conventions such as enforcing the use of the veil and the creation of guardians of women, limits to movement within and outside of the home are evident in existing historical record. Archeological record provides a limited perception of the realities of women as much of the record has been lost of the centuries.
Free-born male citizens held political and economic power within the domestic and public sphere, as evidenced by the vast amount of historical records available regarding inheritance, property rights, trade agreements. Ancient law books and surviving artwork reveal inheritance and property rights favoring male kin and male non-kin over the women of the household; the practice of exposing new born female babies revealed a society. The creation of specific rooms in the house designated for male only socialization appeared at a certain point in the Classical Greek period; the practice of holding symposium within the andron for the possible purpose of arranging economic agreements within the male aristocratic community is alluded to in many ceramic vases and murals. It is in sifting through these surviving remnants of the domestic sphere that archeologists have been able to piece together an understanding of women’s social and political realities. Artistic references may shed some light on the religious and economic activities of the aristocratic elements of society.
Key to research into the status of women has been the archeological evidence found or implied within the excavated residential structures. Artifacts such as ceramic vases, looms and metal hinges found within the excavated sites suggest social and economic clues. Looms and olive presses located within the residential excavation zones further suggest the economic role of women within the home. Textual evidence proves the production of textiles and the role that men played in the trade of such products, while women and their slaves created the products to be traded and sold; the writings of Xenophon express Socrates' perception of the role of aristocratic women as that of weaving and managing the slaves of the household, while the men having citizenship rights can move in the public sphere. Other social norms found through popularized literature include the idea that the whiteness of the skin of women proved their status. Slaves and prostitutes had access to the areas of the public and privates spheres and labored outdoors.
Segregation of the sexes within the household proved important to the maintenance of the home, the economic foundation of the city-state, through its production of marketable goods. The culture of surveillance seemed to be evident through the changes of shape of the household, to a radial shape which allowed for better viewing, the use of symposium in the andron. Cups found in rooms identified as the andron contained other artifacts like remnants of a wooden bench prove similar to the painted depictions of symposium found on the ceramic vases; the metal hinges and indentations on structures that could be said to be load bearing suggest the partitioning of space for possible private functions that required limited view by members of the household. Archeologists have discussed the possibility of religious acts taking place within the home prior to the creation of temples, these religious acts were conducted by women of certain status in the communities. Dominant in the discourse is the notion of public and private spheres evolving in tandem with the changes to the architectural designs of the home, which suggest the idea of the use of space in facilitating social conditioning in order to m
Alexius of Constantinople
Alexios Stoudites or Alexius Studites, an Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, was a member of the Monastery of Stoudios, succeeded Eustathius of Constantinople as Patriarch in 1025, the last of the Patriarchs appointed by the Emperor Basil II. Alexius set out to reform the church institution of the charistike dorea, which recent research dates to the period just after the Triumph of Orthodoxy, it involved the donation of monasteries to private individuals unrelated to the establishments founders, for a limited period of time. Ostensibly undertaken so that the monastery buildings could be repaired or conserved and the estate out to good use, while at the same time protecting and preserving its spiritual functions, in actuality it was abused by the landed gentry and so became a source of abused patronage by high church officials and a tool against the powerful monastic establishment. Alexius tried to temper the worst abused of the notorious charistike by appointing through Synodal legislation the patriarch's chancellor, the chartophylax, as the official to serve as the final point of approval for all grants under the system.
Alexius restricted the granting of charistike to non-dioceesan monasteries and eukteria. The fact that Alexius sought reform over abolishment of the charistike dorea shows the inability of the Church to claim back many of these properties from the powerful land-owning elite who held them. Alexius promoted the zealous actions of John of Melitene whose interest it was to limit the influence of the Syro Jacobite Church in the south east of the Byzantine Empire in the newly conquered themes of Mesopotamia and Telouch. For this reason the Syro-Jacobite Patriarch John VIII bar Abdoun was arrested and brought to trial in Constantinople and forced into a monastery on Mt. Ganos. In 1034 he crowned Michael IV the Paphlagonian, the favorite of the Byzantine Empress Zoë Porphyrogenita, who, to make way for him, procured the death of her husband, the Emperor Romanos III Argyros, he thwarted the attempts of John the Orphanotrophos to gain the patriarchal see in 1036, died in 1043. Alexius established a monastery for which he wrote the rule, used as the rule for the Kiev Monastery of the Caves.
Decrees of Alexius are still extant. He is noted for the elevated style employed in the numerous decrees of his; the synod decrees are unusual for the fact they are dated precisely. 1027 1027 1027-1030 1028 1030 1038 1034 1037 1038 1038 1039 1030-1040 undated F. Lauritzen, Against the Enemies of Tradition, Alexios Studites and the Synodikon of Orthodoxy in A. Rigo and P. Ermilov and Heresy in Byzantium, Roma 2010. J. Thomas and A. Constantinides, eds. Byzantine Monastic Foundation Documents. Washington, D. C: Dumbarton Oaks, 1998. A. Pentkovsky, Typikon Patriarxa Aleksija Studita v Vizantii i na Rusi, Moscow 2001, This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed.. "Alexius I of Constantinople". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor was the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire during the Middle Ages and the early modern period. The title was without interruption, held in conjunction with title of King of Germany throughout the 12th to 18th centuries. From an autocracy in Carolingian times the title by the 13th century evolved into an elected monarchy chosen by the prince-electors. Various royal houses of Europe, at different times, became de-facto hereditary holders of the title, notably the Ottonians and the Salians. Following the late medieval crisis of government, the Habsburgs kept possession of the title without interruption from 1440–1740; the final emperors were from the House of Lorraine, from 1765–1806. The Holy Roman Empire was dissolved after the defeat at Austerlitz by emperor Francis II, who continued to rule as Austrian emperor; the Holy Roman Emperor was perceived to rule by divine right, though he contradicted or rivaled the Pope, most notably during the Investiture controversy. In theory, the Holy Roman Emperor was primus inter pares among other Catholic monarchs.
In practice, a Holy Roman Emperor was only as strong as his army and alliances, including marriage alliances, made him. There was never a Holy Roman Empress regnant, though women such as Theophanu and Maria Theresa of Austria served as de facto Empresses regnant. Throughout its history, the position was viewed as a defender of the Roman Catholic faith; until the Reformation, the Emperor elect was required to be crowned by the Pope before assuming the imperial title. Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor was the last to be crowned by the Pope in 1530. After the Reformation, the elected Emperor always was a Roman Catholic. There were short periods in history when the electoral college was dominated by Protestants, the electors voted in their own political interest. From the time of Constantine I, the Roman emperors had, with few exceptions, taken on a role as promoters and defenders of Christianity; the reign of Constantine established a precedent for the position of the Christian emperor in the Church.
Emperors considered themselves responsible to the gods for the spiritual health of their subjects, after Constantine they had a duty to help the Church define orthodoxy and maintain orthodoxy. The emperor's role was to enforce doctrine, root out heresy, uphold ecclesiastical unity. Both the title and connection between Emperor and Church continued in the Eastern Roman Empire throughout the medieval period; the ecumenical councils of the 5th to 8th centuries were convoked by the Eastern Roman Emperors. In Western Europe, the title of Emperor became defunct after the death of Julius Nepos in 480, although the rulers of the barbarian kingdoms continued to recognize the Eastern Emperor at least nominally well into the 6th century. From the western perspective, the interregnum in the Roman Empire spanned the 8th centuries; the title of Emperor was revived in 800, when Charlemagne was crowned Emperor of the Romans by Pope Leo III. The title of Emperor in the West implied recognition by the pope; as the power of the papacy grew during the Middle Ages and emperors came into conflict over church administration.
The best-known and most bitter conflict was that known as the investiture controversy, fought during the 11th century between Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII. After the coronation of Charlemagne, his successors maintained the title until the death of Berengar I of Italy in 924; the comparatively brief interregnum between 924 and the coronation of Otto the Great in 962 is taken as marking the transition from the Frankish Empire to the Holy Roman Empire. Under the Ottonians, much of the former Carolingian kingdom of Eastern Francia fell within the boundaries of the Holy Roman Empire. Since 911, the various German princes had elected the King of the Germans from among their peers; the King of the Germans would be crowned as emperor following the precedent set by Charlemagne, during the period of 962–1530. Charles V was the last emperor to be crowned by the pope, his successor, Ferdinand I adopted the title of "Emperor elect" in 1558; the final Holy Roman Emperor-elect, Francis II, abdicated in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars that saw the Empire's final dissolution.
The term sacrum in connection with the German Roman Empire was first used in 1157 under Frederick I Barbarossa. The standard designation of the Holy Roman Emperor was "August Emperor of the Romans"; when Charlemagne was crowned in 800, he was styled as "most serene Augustus, crowned by God and pacific emperor, governing the Roman Empire," thus constituting the elements of "Holy" and "Roman" in the imperial title. The word Roman was a reflection of the principle of translatio imperii that regarded the Holy Roman Emperors as the inheritors of the title of Emperor of the Western Roman Empire, despite the continued existence of the Eastern Roman Empire. In German-language historiography, the term Römisch-deutscher Kaiser is used to distinguish the title from that of Roman Emperor on one hand, that of German Emperor on the other; the English term "Holy Roman Emperor" is a modern shorthand for "emperor of the Holy Roman Empire" not corresponding to the historical style or title, i.e. the adjective "holy" is not intended as modifying "emperor".
Sirmium was a city in the Roman province of Pannonia. First mentioned in the 4th century BC and inhabited by Illyrians and Celts, it was conquered by the Romans in the 1st century BC and subsequently became the capital of the Roman province of Pannonia Inferior. In 294 AD, Sirmium was proclaimed one of four capitals of the Roman Empire, it was the capital of the Praetorian prefecture of Illyricum and of Pannonia Secunda. Sirmium was located on the site of modern Sremska Mitrovica in northern Serbia; the site is protected as an Archaeological Site of Exceptional Importance. The modern region of Syrmia was named after the city. Sirmium was one of the largest cities of its time. Colin McEvedy, put the population at only 7,000, based on the size of the archaeological site. Ammianus Marcellinus called it "the glorious mother of cities". Remains of Sirmium stand on the site of the modern-day Sremska Mitrovica, 55 km west of Belgrade and 145 km away from Kostolac. Archaeologists have found traces of organized human life on the site of Sirmium dating from 5,000 BC.
The city was firstly mentioned in the 4th century BC and was inhabited by the Illyrians and Celts. The Triballi king Syrmus was considered the eponymous founder of Sirmium, but the roots are different, the two words only became conflated later; the name Sirmium by itself means "flow, flowing water, wetland", referring to its close river position on the nearby Sava. With the Celtic tribe of Scordisci as allies, the Roman proconsul Marcus Vinicius took Sirmium in around 14 BC. In the 1st century AD, Sirmium gained the status of a Roman colony, became an important military and strategic center of the Pannonia province; the Roman emperors Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, Claudius II prepared war expeditions in Sirmium. In 103 Pannonia was split into two provinces: Pannonia Superior and Pannonia Inferior, Sirmium became the capital city of the latter. In 296 Diocletian reorganized Pannonia into four provinces: Pannonia Prima, Pannonia Valeria, Pannonia Savia and Pannonia Secunda, Sirmium became the capital of Pannonia Secunda.
He joined them with Noricum and Dalmatia to establish the Diocese of Pannonia, with Sirmium as its capital also. In 293, with the establishment of the Tetrarchy, the Roman Empire was split into four parts. With the establishment of Praetorian prefectures in 318, the capital of the prefecture of Illyricum was Sirmium, remaining so until 379, when the westernmost Diocese of Illyricum, was detached and joined to the prefecture of Italia assuming the name of Diocese of Illyricum; the eastern part of Illyricum remained a separate prefecture under the East Roman Empire with its new capital in Thessalonica. The city had an imperial palace, a horse-racing arena, a mint, an arena theatre, a theatre, as well as many workshops, public baths, public palaces and luxury villas. Ancient historian Ammianus Marcellinus called it "the glorious mother of cities"; the mint in Sirmium was connected with the mint in Salona and silver mines in the Dinaric Alps through the Via Argentaria. At the end of the 4th century Sirmium came under the sway of the Goths, was again annexed to the East Roman Empire.
In 441 the Huns conquered Sirmium. For a short time, Sirmium was the centre of the Gepids and king Cunimund minted gold coins there. After 567, Sirmium was returned to the East Roman Empire; the Pannonian Avars conquered and destroyed the city in 582. Ten Roman emperors were born in this city or in its surroundings: Herennius Etruscus, Decius, Claudius II, Aurelian, Maximian, Constantius II, Gratian; the last emperor of the united Roman Empire, Theodosius I, became emperor in Sirmium. The usurpers Ingenuus and Regalianus declared themselves emperors in this city and many other Roman emperors spent some time in Sirmium, including Marcus Aurelius, who might have written parts of his famous work Meditations in the city. Sirmium was, most the site of the death of Marcus Aurelius, of smallpox, in March of 180 CE; the city had a Christian community by the third century. By the end of the century, it had a bishop, the metropolitan of all the Pannonian bishops; the first known bishop was Irenaeus, martyred during the Diocletianic Persecution in 304.
For the next century, the sequence of bishops is known, but in the fifth and sixth centuries the see falls into obscurity. An unnamed bishop is mentioned in 448; the last known bishop is mentioned in a papal letter of 594, after which the city itself is mentioned and the see went into abeyance. From the time of the first synod of Tyre in 335, Sirmium became a stronghold of the Arian movement and site of much controversy. Between 347 and 358 there were four synods held in Sirmium. A fifth took plate in 375 or 378. All dealt with the Arian controversy. On the location Glac near Sirmium is found unexcavated the palace of Emperor Maximianus Herculius built on the place where his parents worked as laborers on the estate of a Roman column. During the construction of the hospital in 1971, was found in monumental Jupiter's sanctuary with more than eighty of the altar, the second largest in Europe. Sirmium had two bridges with which she was bridged river Sava, of which indicate the historical sources, bri
Constantine IX Monomachos
Constantine IX Monomachos, Latinized as Constantine IX Monomachus, reigned as Byzantine emperor from 11 June 1042 to 11 January 1055. He had been chosen by the Empress Zoë as a husband and co-emperor in 1042, although he had been exiled for conspiring against her previous husband, Emperor Michael IV the Paphlagonian, they ruled together until Zoë died in 1050. During Constantine's reign, the Byzantine Empire fought wars against groups which included the Kievan Rus' and the Seljuq Turks. In the year before his death, the split between the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches took place. Constantine Monomachos was the son of Theodosios Monomachos, an important bureaucrat under Basil II and Constantine VIII. At some point, Theodosios had been suspected of conspiracy and his son's career suffered accordingly. Constantine's position improved after he married his second wife, a niece of Emperor Romanos III Argyros. Catching the eye of Empress Zoë, Constantine was exiled to Mytilene on the island of Lesbos by her second husband, Michael IV.
The death of Michael IV and the overthrow of Michael V in 1042 led to Constantine being recalled from his place of exile and appointed as a judge in Greece. However, prior to commencing his appointment, Constantine was summoned to Constantinople, where the fragile working relationship between Michael V's successors, the empresses Zoë and Theodora, was breaking down. After two months of increasing acrimony between the two, Zoë decided to search for a new husband, thereby hoping to prevent her sister from increasing her popularity and authority. After her first preference displayed contempt for the empress and her second died under mysterious circumstances, Zoë remembered the handsome and urbane Constantine; the pair were married on 11 June 1042, without the participation of Patriarch Alexius I of Constantinople, who refused to officiate over a third marriage. On the following day, Constantine was formally proclaimed emperor together with Zoë and her sister Theodora. Constantine continued the purge instituted by Zoë and Theodora, removing the relatives of Michael V from the court.
The new emperor was prone to violent outbursts on suspicion of conspiracy. He was influenced by his mistress Maria Skleraina, a relative of his second wife, Maria's family. Constantine had another mistress, a certain "Alan princess" Irene, daughter of the Georgian Bagratid prince Demetrius. In August 1042, the emperor relieved General George Maniakes from his command in Italy, Maniakes rebelled, declaring himself emperor in September, he transferred his troops into the Balkans and was about to defeat Constantine's army in battle, when he was wounded and died on the field, ending the crisis in 1043. After the victory, Constantine was attacked by a fleet from Kievan Rus', they too were defeated, with the help of Greek fire. Constantine married his relative Anastasia to the future Prince Vsevolod I of Kiev, the son of his opponent Yaroslav I the Wise. Constantine's family name Monomachos was inherited by Vsevolod and Anastasia's son, Vladimir II Monomakh. Constantine IX's preferential treatment of Maria Skleraina in the early part of his reign led to rumors that she was planning to murder Zoë and Theodora.
This led to a popular uprising by the citizens of Constantinople in 1044, which came dangerously close to harming Constantine, participating in a religious procession along the streets of Constantinople. The mob was only quieted by the appearance at a balcony of Zoë and Theodora, who reassured the people that they were not in any danger of assassination. In 1045 Constantine annexed the Armenian kingdom of Ani, but this expansion exposed the empire to new enemies. In 1046 the Byzantines came into contact for the first time with the Seljuk Turks, they settled a truce the following year. If the Seljuk rulers were willing to abide by the treaty, their unruly Turcoman allies showed much less restraint; the Byzantine forces suffered a cataclysmic defeat at the battle of Manzikert in 1071. Constantine began persecuting the Armenian Church, trying to force it into union with the Orthodox Church. In 1046, he refounded the University of Constantinople by creating the Departments of Law and Philosophy. In 1047 Constantine was faced by the rebellion of his nephew Leo Tornikios, who gathered supporters in Adrianople and was proclaimed emperor by the army.
Tornikios was forced to retreat, failed in another siege, was captured during his flight. The revolt had weakened Byzantine defenses in the Balkans, in 1048 the area was raided by the Pechenegs, who continued to plunder it for the next five years; the emperor's efforts to contain the enemy through diplomacy exacerbated the situation, as rival Pecheneg leaders clashed on Byzantine ground, Pecheneg settlers were allowed to live in compact settlement in the Balkans, making it difficult to suppress their rebellion. Constantine seems to have taken recourse to the pronoia system, a sort of Byzantine feudal contract in which tracts of land were granted to particular individuals in exchange for contributing to and maintaining military forces. Constantine could be wasteful with the imperial treasury. On one occasion he is said to have sent an Arab leader 500,000 gold coins, over two tons of gold. In 1054 the centuries-old differences between the Greek and Roman churches led to their final separation.
Legates from Pope Leo IX excommunicated the Patriarch of Constantinople Michael Keroularios when Keroularios would not agree to adopt western chur