or the Younger, Byzantine emperor from A. D. 959-963, the son and successor of Constantine VII. Porphyrogenitus, was born in 939, and succeeded his father on the fifteenth of November 959. His short reign offers a few events of note. Endowed with great personal beauty and bodily strength, he preferred gymnastics, hunting, and other pleasures to the duties of an emperor, which he left to his minister Bringas. His wretched wife Theophano, who had persuaded him to poison his father, was no sooner independent than she excited Romanus against his own family; his five sisters were compelled to leave the palace, and confined in the same convent where Sophia, the widow of Christophorus Augustus had then been during thirty years; but the empress dowager, Helena, possessed too much energy to yield to her daughter-in-law, and she accordingly remained in the palace, but she died soon afterwards of a broken heart. Although Romanus never showed himself in the field, he had two renowned generals by whom some glorious deeds were done, namely, the two brothers Nicephorus and Leo Phocas. Nicephorus recovered the flourishing island of Creta, after a long siege of its capital Candia, and after the Arabs had ruled there during 150 years (961); and Leo was successful against the Arabs in Asia.
After the fall of Candia, and the splendid triumph of Nicephorus in Constantinople, the two brothers joined their forces against the Arabs, and obtained most signal victories over them.
A rumour having spread of the death of Romanus, Nicephorus approached the capital through fear of Bringas; but the rumour was false, and Nicephorus remained in Asia, observing Constantinople. Events showed the prudence of this step; for Romanus, already exhausted by his mode of life, was despatched by poison administered to him by his own wife Theophano.
He died on the 15th of March, 963, at the age of twenty-four. Ambition, and perhaps the secret advice of the eunuch Bringas, urged Theophano to commit the foul deed. Romanus married first Bertha, afterwards called Eudoxia, the natural daughter of Hugo, king of Italy, who died a child before the marriage was consummated.
By his second wife Anastasia, afterwards called Theophano, a woman of base extraction, he left two sons, Basil II. and Constantine VIII., who followed him on the throne, and two daughters, Theophano, who married Otho II. emperor of Germany, an excellent woman, who became the ancestress of most of the reigning houses in Europe, and Anna Posthuma, who married Wladimir, first Christian prince of Russia.
Cedren. p. 642, &c.; Zonar. vol. ii. p. 196, &c.; Manass. p. 115, Glyc. p. 304; Leo Diacon. p. 500, &c. in the Paris editions.