Michael V Kalaphates

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Michael V Kalaphates
Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans
See caption
Histamenon that may have been issued during the reign of Michael V: obverse (left) Christ Pantokrator; reverse (right) the Emperor (crowned by the hand of God) and the Archangel Michael holding a labarum.
Emperor of the Byzantine Empire
Reign10 December 1041 – 20 April 1042
PredecessorMichael IV
Co-regentZoë Porphyrogenita
Bornc. 1015
Died24 August 1042
(aged 26–27)
Monastery of Stoudios, Constantinople
DynastyMacedonian (by adoption)
FatherStephen, a caulker
MotherMaria, a Paphlagonian

Michael V Kalaphates (Greek: Μιχαήλ Ε΄, Mikhaēl V; c. 1015 – 24 August 1042) was Byzantine emperor for four months in 1041–1042. He was the nephew and successor of Michael IV and the adoptive son of his wife Empress Zoe. He was popularly called "the Caulker" (Καλαφάτης, Kalaphates) in accordance with his father's original occupation.


Histamenon of Michael IV

Michael V was the son of Stephen by Maria, a sister of Emperor Michael IV. His father had been a caulker before becoming an admiral under Michael IV and botching an expedition to Sicily. Although the emperor preferred another of his nephews, the future Michael V was advanced as heir to the throne by his other uncle John the Orphanotrophos and the Empress Zoe.[1] Shortly before his death, Michael IV granted Michael V the title of Kaisar (Caesar), and, together with Zoe, adopted his nephew as a son.[2] On 10 December 1041, Michael V succeeded to the throne.[2]

Reign and downfall[edit]

Determined to rule on his own, Michael V came into conflict with his uncle John the Orphanotrophos, whom he almost immediately banished to a monastery.[3] Michael now reversed his uncle's decisions, recalling the nobles and courtiers who had been exiled during the previous reign, including the future patriarch Michael Keroularios and the general George Maniakes. Maniakes was promptly sent back to Southern Italy in order to contain the advance of the Normans.

On the night of 18 April to 19 April 1042, Michael V banished his adoptive mother and co-ruler Zoe, for plotting to poison him, to the island of Principo,[2] thus becoming sole Emperor. His announcement of the event in the morning led to a popular revolt; the palace was surrounded by a mob demanding Zoe's immediate restoration.[4] The demand was met, and Zoe was brought back, though in a nun's habit.[2] On 20 April 1042 Zoe's sister Theodora, who had been removed from her nunnery against her will, was declared Empress.[5] In response, Michael fled to seek safety in the monastery of the Stoudion together with his remaining uncle.[5] Although he had taken monastic vows, Michael was arrested, blinded[2] (according to legend by future Norwegian king Harald Hardrada), and castrated. He died as a monk on 24 August 1042.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gregory 2010, p. 276.
  2. ^ a b c d e Hussey 1966, p. 198.
  3. ^ Tougher 2008, p. 56.
  4. ^ Krallis 2006, p. 7.
  5. ^ a b Hussey 1966, p. 199.


  • Thurn, Hans, ed. (1973). Ioannis Scylitzae Synopsis historiarum. Berlin-New York: De Gruyter.
  • Gregory, Timothy E. (2010). A History of Byzantium. Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Hussey, J.M., ed. (1966). The Cambridge Medieval History:The Byzantine Empire Part 1. Vol. IV. Cambridge University Press.
  • Tougher, Shaun (2008). The Eunuch in Byzantine History and Society. Routledge.
  • Krallis, Dimitrios (2006). "Democratic Praxis and Republican Ideology in the Eleventh Century". Byzantine Studies Conference. Dumbarton Oaks.
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Michael (emperors)". Encyclopædia Britannica. 18 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 359–360.

Further reading[edit]

Michael V Kalaphates
Born: 1015 Died: 24 August 1042[aged 27]
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Michael IV and Zoe
Byzantine Emperor
(with Zoe)

1041–1042 (18 April 1042-20 April 1042 as sole emperor)
Succeeded by
Zoe and Theodora