Romanos III Argyros
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|Romanos III Argyros|
|Emperor of the Byzantine Empire|
Silver miliaresion of Romanos III
|Reign||15 November 1028 – 11 April 1034|
|Died||11 April 1034 (aged 66-67)|
|Consort to||Zoe Porphyrogenita|
Romanos Argyros was the son of an unnamed member of the Argyros family and a great-grandson of Romanos I Lekapenos. His sister Maria Argyre had married Giovanni Orseolo, a Venetian lord in Dalmatia. He also had a brother, Basil Argyros.
Under Basil II Romanos served as judge, and under Constantine VIII he became urban prefect of Constantinople. Romanos attracted the attention of Constantine VIII, who forced him to divorce his wife (sending her into a monastery) and to marry the emperor's daughter Zoe Porphyrogenita. The marriage took place on 12 November 1028, and three days later Constantine VIII died, leaving Romanos III as emperor.
The new emperor showed great eagerness to make his mark as a ruler, but was mostly unfortunate in his enterprises. He spent large sums upon new buildings and in endowing the monks. His endeavour to relieve the pressure of taxation disorganized the finances of the state. Idealizing Marcus Aurelius, Romanos aspired to be a new "philosopher king", and similarly desired to imitate the military prowess of Trajan.
In 1030 he resolved to retaliate upon the incursions of the Muslims on the eastern frontier by leading a large army in person against the Mirdasids of Aleppo, but by allowing himself to be surprised on the march he sustained a serious defeat at Azaz, near Antioch. Though this disaster was reduced by the capture and successful defence of Edessa by George Maniakes in 1032, and by the sound defeat of a Saracen fleet in the Adriatic, Romanos never recovered his early popularity.
As a member of the aristocracy, Romanos III abandoned his predecessors' curtailment of the privileges of the nobility and reduced their taxes, at the same time allowing peasant freeholders to fall into a condition of serfdom. In a vain attempt to reduce expenditure, Romanos limited his wife's expenses, which merely exacerbated the alienation between the two.
At home Romanos III faced several conspiracies, mostly centered around his sister-in-law Theodora, as in 1029 and 1030. Although he survived these attempts on the throne, his early death in 1034 was supposed to have been due to poison administered by his wife, though it has also been that he was drowned in a bath on his wife's orders. He was buried in the Church of St. Mary Peribleptos, which he built.
By his first wife Helena, Romanos III Argyros had a daughter, who was engaged to Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor. He had no children by his second wife Zoe.
- Michael Psellus, Chronographia.
- The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, 1991.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
- Lauritzen, F. (2009). "The Miliaresion Poet: the dactylic inscription on a silver coin of Romanos III Argyros". Byzantion 79: 231–240. ISSN 0378-2506.
Romanos III ArgyrosBorn: 968 Died: 11 April 1034
15 November 1028 – 11 April 1034
Michael IV and Zoe