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Zoe (empress)

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Empress Zoe as depicted in a mosaic from the Hagia Sophia
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Empress Zoe as depicted in a mosaic from the Hagia Sophia

Zoe (in Greek Ζωή, meaning "life"), (c. 978 - 1050) was Empress of the Byzantine Empire with co-rulers November 15, 1028 - 1050, and reigning Empress from April 19 to June 11, 1042.

Zoe was one of the few Byzantine empresses born into the purple (that is, as the legitimate child of an reigning emperor). She was daughter of Constantine VIII of the Byzantine Empire, who had become co-emperor in 976, and sole emperor in 1025. He reigned for only three years between December 15, 1025 and November 15, 1028.

Before dying Constantine had married Zoe to his chosen heir Romanus III Argyrus, the eparch of Constantinople, on November 12, 1028. Constantine hoped that Romanus would help his daughter to control the government, but Romanus proved to be an unfaithful husband and an ineffective emperor. He was found murdered in his bath in 1034. Zoe immediately remarried, even before his body was removed from the bath. Zoe's second husband was Michael IV "the Paphlagonian", who reigned until his death in 1041.

Her next co-ruler was her adoptive son Michael V Calaphates, nephew of her second husband, whose short reign lasted only into the next year. For two months in 1042, Zoe shared the government with her sister, Theodora, until she could find yet another husband, her third and the last she was permitted according to the rules of the Orthodox Church. Her choice fell upon Constantine IX Monomachus (reigned 1042-1055) who outlived her by four years. Zoe died in 1050.

Bibliography


Preceded by:
Michael V
Byzantine Emperor
Succeeded by:
Constantine IX

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