Romanos III Argyros or Romanus III Argyrus (Greek: Ρωμανός Γ΄ Αργυρός, Rōmanos III Argyros), (968 – April 11, 1034) was Byzantine emperor (November 15, 1028 - April 11, 1034). His last name is Greek for "Silver".
Romanos Argyros was the son of an unnamed member of the Argyros family and a great-grandson of Emperor Romanos I. Under Basil II, Romanos served as judge, and under Constantine VIII he became prefect of Constantinople. Romanos attracted the attention of Constantine VIII, who forced him to divorce his wife (sending her into a monastery) and to marry the emperor's daughter Zoe. The marriage took place on November 12, 1028, and three days later Constantine VIII died, leaving Romanos III as emperor.
The new emperor 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. Idealizing Marcus Aurelius, Romanos aspired to be a new "philosopher king", and similarly desired to imitate the military prowess of Trajan.
In 1030 he resolved to retaliate upon the incursions of the Muslims 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 capture and successful defence of Edessa by George Maniakes in 1032 and by the defeat of a Saracen fleet in the Adriatic, Romanus never recovered his popularity.
As a member of the aristocracy, Romanos III abandoned his predecessors' curtailment of the privileges of the nobility and reduced their taxes, at the same time allowing peasant freeholders to fall into a condition of serfdom. In a vain attempt to reduce expenditure, Romanos limited his wife's expenses, which merely exacerbated the alienation between the spouses.
At home Romanos III faced several conspiracies, mostly centered around his sister-in-law Theodora, as in 1029 and 1030. Although he survived these attempts on the throne, his early death in 1034 was supposed to have been due to poison administered by his wife, though it has also been alleged that he was drowned in a bath on his wife's orders.
By his first wife Helena, Romanos III Argyros had a daughter:
- (unnamed) Argyra, who was engaged to Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor.
By his second wife Zoe, Romanos III had no children.
- (primary source) Michael Psellus, Chronographia.
- The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, 1991.