Romanus was born in 1032 to a distinguished Cappadocian family, and had risen to distinction in the army, until he was convicted of treason against the sons of Constantine X. While waiting for his 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, but in a fourth he was disastrously defeated by Alp Arslan in 1071 on the banks of the Araxes at the Battle of Manzikert 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. He was defeated and forced to resign the empire, while his deal with Alp Arlsan was rejected by Michael. Accused of treason and incompetence, he was condemned to be blinded and to retire in exile to the island of Prote in the Sea of Marmara. His blinding was carried out so brutally that he soon died because of the injury and subsequent infection on August 4, 1072.
- Michael Psellus the Younger. Chronographia.
- John Julius Norwich, Byzantium: The Apogee (Vol. II).