1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Romanus

ROMANUS, the name of four East Roman emperors.

Romanus I. (Lecapenus), who shared the imperial throne with Constantine VII. (q.v.) and exercised all the real power from 919 to 944, was admiral of the Byzantine fleet on the Danube when, hearing of the defeat of the army at Achelous (917), he resolved to sail for Constantinople. After the marriage of his daughter Helena to Constantine he was first proclaimed “basileopater” in 919 and soon after crowned colleague of his son-in-law. His reign, which was uneventful, except for an attempt to check the accumulation of landed property, was terminated by his own sons, Stephen and Constantine, who in 944 carried him off to the island of Prote and compelled him to become a monk. He died in 948.

Romanus II. succeeded his father Constantine VII. in 959 at the age of twenty-one, and died—poisoned, it was believed, by his wife, Theophano—in 963. He was a pleasure-loving sovereign, but showed judgment in the selection of his ministers. The great event of his reign was the conquest of Crete by Nicephorus Phocas.

Romanus III. (Argyrus), emperor 1028–1034, was an undistinguished Byzantine patrician, who was compelled by the dying emperor Constantine IX. to marry his daughter Zoe and to become his successor. He 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 monks, and in his endeavour to relieve the pressure of taxation disorganized the finances of the state. In 1030 he resolved to retaliate upon the incursions of the Moslems on the eastern frontier by leading a large army in person against Aleppo, but by allowing himself to be surprised on the march sustained a serious defeat at Azaz near Antioch. Though this disaster was retrieved by the successful defence of Edessa by George Maniakes and by the defeat of a Saracen fleet in the Adriatic, Romanus never recovered his popularity. His early death was supposed to have been due to poison administered by his wife.

See J. B. Bury in the English Historical Review (1889), pp. 53–57; G. Schlumberger, L’Épopée byzantine (Paris, 1905), iii. pp. 56–158.

Romanus IV. (Diogenes), emperor 1068–1071, was a member of a distinguished Cappadocian family, and had risen to distinction in the army, when he was convicted of treason against the sons of Constantine X. While waiting execution he was summoned into the presence of the empress regent, Eudocia Macrembolitissa, whom he so fascinated that she granted him a free pardon and shortly afterwards married him. After his coronation he carried on three successful campaigns against the Saracens and Seljuk Turks, whom he drove beyond the Euphrates; in a fourth he was disastrously defeated by Alp Arslan on the banks of the Araxes and taken prisoner. After releasing himself by the promise of a large ransom and the conclusion of a peace, he turned his arms against the pretender Michael VII., but was compelled after a defeat to resign the empire and retire to the island of Prote, where he soon died in great misery. It was during this reign that, by the surrender of Bari (1071), the Byzantine empire lost its last hold upon Italy.

See J. G. C. Anderson in the Journal of Hellenic Studies (1897), pp. 36-39. On all the above see also J. B. Bury’s edition of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall.  (M. O. B. C.)