10 December

Michael V (1015 – 24 August 1042) was Byzantine emperor for four months in 1041–1042, the nephew and successor of Michael IV and the adoptive son of his wife, the Empress Zoe. He was popularly called “the Caulker” (Kalaphates) in accordance with his father’s original occupation.

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. Shortly before his death, Michael IV granted Michael V the title of Kaisar (Caesar), and, together with Zoe, adopted his nephew as a son. On 10 December 1041, Michael V succeeded to the throne.

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. 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 as well, 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. The demand was met, and Zoe was brought back as joint-ruler with her sister Theodora. On 20 April 1042 Theodora declared the emperor deposed, and he fled to seek safety in the monastery of the Stoudion together with his remaining uncle. Although he had taken monastic vows, Michael was arrested, blinded, and castrated. He died as a monk on 24 August 1042.