After the death of Constantine VIII the aged senator, Romanus Argyrus, married to Constantine's daughter, Zoe, became emperor and ruled from 1028 until 1034. Zoe survived him, and at the age of about fifty-six married her lover, Michael the Paphlagonian, who was proclaimed emperor at his wifes entreaty, and ruled as Michael IV the Paphlagonian from 1034 to 1041. During his reign and in the brief reign of his nephew, Michael V Calaphates (1041-42), another accidental and insignificant figure, there was much disturbance and acute discontent in the Empire, which ended in the deposition and blinding of Michael V. For about two months the Byzantine Empire was ruled by the unusual combination of authority in the hands of Zoe, widowed for the second time, and of her younger sister, Theodora. In the same year (1042) Zoe married for the third time, and her new husband was proclaimed emperor. He ruled as Constantine IX Monomachus from 1042 until 1055.
Zoe died before her third husband, but Theodora survived Constantine Monomachus and became the sole ruler of the Empire after his death (1055-56). After the reign of Irene, the famous restorer of image worship at the end of the eighth and early ninth centuries, the rule of Zoe and Theodora marks the second and last instance of feminine rule. Each of them occupied the throne as the autocratic and sovereign basilissa, i.e., Empress of the Romans. Shortly before her death Theodora yielded to the demands of the court party and elected the aged patrician, Michael Stratioticus, as her successor. He ascended the throne after Theodora's death in the year 1056. Theodora was the last ruler of the Macedonian dynasty, which occupied the throne for a period of 189 years