The nephew of Michael IV and John the Orphanotrophus, Michael Kalaphates was adopted for the succession when it became clear that the emperor was dying.
As soon as he ascended the throne, three days after the death of Michael IV, he repaid his benefactor, his uncle John, by sending him into exile and even had the presumption to confine the Empress Zoe to a nunnery. But the Byzantine population stood by the last descendants of the great Macedonian dynasty, and Michael V was deposed and blinded and the imperial sisters, Zoe and Theodora, took his place on the throne.
The two elderly daughters of Constantine VIII ruled the Empire jointly for seven and a half weeks. Their obvious unfitness to govern together with their mutual antipathy necessitated the hasty selection of a new husband for Zoe, and on 12th June 1042 the senator Constantine Monomachus ascended the throne as Constantine IX.
Unfortunately the new ruler did not take his great responsibilities very seriously and spent much of his time dissipating the public treasury which had been so carefully built up by the ascetic Basil II. Nevertheless, art and culture flourished at his court, and in 1045 a university was established in Constantinople.
But in military affairs the outlook was bleak: the soldier-farmers, backbone of the Mediaeval Byzantine army, were fast disappearing, their lands acquired by the wealthy magnates, and the Empire had to rely increasingly on the doubtful loyalties of mercenary troops. George Maniaces, one of the last representatives of the old school, made a bid for the throne in 1043, but was killed by a stray arrow at the end of a battle he had already won.
An event of great future significance occurred towards the end of the reign-the schism between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople, a breach which was destined never to be healed. Pope Leo IX excommunicated the Byzantine Patriarch Michael Cerularius who countered by himself excommunicating the Roman legates.
Constantine died early in 1055, and as Zoe had predeceased him he was succeeded by Theodora, the last living representative of the Macedonian house.