Michael V Kalaphates
Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans
See caption
Michael V, 11th century depiction from the Madrid Skylitzes
Byzantine emperor
Reign13 December 1041 – 21 April 1042
PredecessorMichael IV
SuccessorZoe and Theodora
Bornroughly 1015
DiedMonastery of Stoudios, Constantinople
(now Istanbul, Turkey)
DynastyMacedonian (by adoption)

Michael V Kalaphates (Greek: Μιχαήλ Καλαφάτης, Michaḗl Kalaphátēs) was Byzantine emperor for four months in 1041–1042. He was the nephew and successor of Michael IV and the adoptive son of Michael IV's wife Empress Zoe. He was popularly called "the Caulker" (Kalaphates) in accordance with his father's original occupation.[1]


Michael V was the son of a couple named Stephen and Maria. His birth date is not known, but is sometimes given as c. 1015,[2] probably because he was considered "young" in 1035.[3] Michael's mother was a sister of the Byzantine emperor Michael IV and Stephen had been a caulker before becoming an admiral under Michael IV and then 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.[4] In 1035, Michael IV granted him the title of kaisar (caesar), and, together with Zoe, adopted his nephew as a son.[5][6] Michael IV died on 10 December 1041 and Michael V was proclaimed emperor three days later by Zoe.[7]


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.[8] 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.

Michael V banishes Zoe to a monastery.

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,[5] 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.[9] The demand was met, and Zoe was brought back, though still in a nun's habit.[5] Presenting Zoe to the crowds in the Hippodrome did not quell the public's outrage over Michael's actions. The masses attacked the palace from multiple directions. The emperor's soldiers attempted to fight them off and by April 21, an estimated three thousand people from both sides had died. Once inside the palace, the mob pillaged valuables and tore up the tax rolls.[10] Also on 21 April 1042 Zoe's sister Theodora, who had been removed from her nunnery against her will earlier in the uprising, was declared Empress.[11][6] In response, Michael fled to seek safety in the monastery of the Stoudion together with his remaining uncle, Constantine.[11] Although he had taken monastic vows, Michael was arrested, blinded[5][12] and sent to a monastery by then-Chief of the Varangian Guard, Harald Hardrada.[13]

See also


  1. ^ Cavallo, Guglielmo (1997). The Byzantines. University of Chicago Press. p. 161. ISBN 978-0-226-09792-3.
  2. ^ Treadgold 1997, p. 491.
  3. ^ PBW 2016.
  4. ^ Gregory 2010, p. 276.
  5. ^ a b c d Hussey 1966, p. 198.
  6. ^ a b Kazhdan 1991, p. 1366.
  7. ^ Skylitzes 2010, pp. 390–391.
  8. ^ Tougher 2008, p. 56.
  9. ^ Krallis 2006, p. 7.
  10. ^ Kaldellis, Anthony (June 7, 2017). Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood: The Rise and Fall of Byzantium, 955 A.D. to the First Crusade (Kindle ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. p. 177. ISBN 978-0190253226.
  11. ^ a b Hussey 1966, p. 199.
  12. ^ Kaldellis, Anthony (June 7, 2017). Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood: The Rise and Fall of Byzantium, 955 A.D. to the First Crusade (Kindle ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. p. 177. ISBN 978-0190253226.
  13. ^ Norwich, J. J. (1991). Byzantium: The Apogee. London: BCA. ISBN 9780670802524.


Further reading

Michael V Kalaphates Macedonian DynastyBorn: 1015 Died: 24 August 1042[aged 27] Regnal titles Preceded byMichael IV Byzantine emperor 1041–1042 Succeeded byZoe and Theodora