Surnamed: "The Caulker"
Parents: Stephen, a caulker, and Maria, sister of Michael IV, emperor of Constantinople
Date of Birth: circa 1015
Predecessor: Michael IV
Reign: 1041 – 1042
Summary: The story of Michael V is as unlikely as many stories in Byzantine history. Born to a caulker and his wife, an aunt became the wife of Emperor Michael IV, throwing his entire family into the spotlight. His father, Stephen, became an admiral where he failed utterly on an expedition to Sicily. Emperor Michael did not even like his nephew, Michael, but the emperor decided to take his wife, Zoë's, advice and adopt the boy as his heir. An uncle, John the Eunuch, also supported the young man's promotion to heir. In the days leading up the Emperor Michael IV's death, he granted his adopted son the title Caesar. Michael succeeded to the throne on 10 December 1042 to begin one of the shortest reigns in Byzantine history.
The hope of Empress Zoë and John the Eunuch was that Michael V would be a malleable emperor that they could use to rule the country. But Michael sought to rule under his own power. Within days of his ascension, he nearly exiled John to a monastery for contempt. Michael hoped to make a good start and recalled hundreds of courtiers that had been exiled under Michael IV. One of those returning men was Michael Keroularios, the future patriarch of Constantinople, while another was General George Maniakes, who was sent to fight the Normans in Sicily. But Michael went to far on the night of April 18 when he banished his adopted mother Zoë from the imperial palace. When the plot was revealed the next morning, the public revolted against the emperor, demanding Zoë be restored. Zoë came back and brought her sister, Theodora, along with her, and then promptly deposed her adopted son. Michael V fled to a monastery with an uncle but could not hide from Zoë's inquisitors. They found him, arrested, blinded, and castrated the man who was once their emperor. Michael V died soon after.
Date of Death: 24 August 1042
Other Monarchs Who Died Today:
- Magnus III, king of Norway (1103)