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Romanos III Argyros

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Romanos III Argyros

Romanos III Argyros, or Romanus III Argyrus (Greek: Ρωμανός Γ΄ Αργυρός, Rōmanos III Argyros; 968 – 11 April 1034), was Byzantine emperor from 15 November 1028 until his death.

Life

Family and early career

Romanos Argyros was the son of an unnamed member of the Argyros family, who may be identifiable with the Pothos Argyros who defeated a Magyar raid in 958 (identified by some scholars with an older namesake) or with Eustathios Argyros, known only for commissioning a poem in honour of Romanos II in 950.[1] Romanos' father was the son of another Romanos Argyros, who had married Agatha, a daughter of Romanos I Lekapenos (r. 919–944).[2]

Romanos had several siblings: Basil Argyros, who served as general and governor under Basil II (r. 976–1025);[3] Leo, who served under Basil and was killed in Italy in 1017;[4] Pulcheria Argyropoulina, who married the magistros Basil Skleros;[5] an anonymous sister who married Constantine Karantenos, who served as doux of Antioch under Romanos;[4] and Maria Argyropoulina, who married Giovanni Orseolo, son of Doge Pietro II Orseolo.[4]

Romanos was born in 968.[5] Romanos served as krites (judge) in Opsikion, with the rank of protospatharios. In this capacity he persecuted heretics at Akmoneia.[6] He was then promoted to the post of quaestor, and became one of the judges of the Hippodrome. In this role he is mentioned in the Peira, a compendium of legal decisions compiled by the notable jurist Eustathios Rhomaios.[7] He was promoted further to the rank of patrikios and the post of oikonomos (steward) of the Great Church, while continuing to preside over a tribunal.[8] At the time of the death of Basil II's successor, Emperor Constantine VIII, in 1028, he held the post of urban prefect of Constantinople.[8]

Reign

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 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 Saracen fleet in the Adriatic, Romanos never recovered his early popularity.

The murder of Romanos III Argyros in a bath, from the Chronicle of John Skylitzes.

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

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