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John the Eunuch, also known as the Orphanotrophos ("caretaker of orphans"), was the chief court eunuch during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Romanus III (1028-1034). He, being unable to father one himself, sought to found a dynasty for his family through his brother Michael, to which end he introduced him to the reigning empress Zoë. Soon the two were lovers and a plot had been hatched to assassinate Zoë's reigning husband. Romanus was killed in his bath in 11 April (Good Friday) 1034.

John continued to control much administration and appointments during his brother's reign. He appointed his brother-in-law Stephen admiral and he was put in charge of the fleet bearing George Maniaches and his invasion army to Sicily in 1038. As the emperor Michael's epilepsy worsened, John's grip on power tightened. After the disastrous desertions of the Normans, Salernitans, and Varangians from Maniaches' army, John the Eunuch took the liberty of appointing first one Basil then Michael Doukeianos catepan of Italy, Maniaches having been summoned to Constantinople and imprisoned for mistreating Stephen the admiral.

The Eunuch convinced the empress to adopt Stephen's son Michael as her own, thus ensuring the continuation of the Paphlagonian line. Soon Michael IV was dead and Michael V had succeeded him. However, no sooner did the Eunuch's hold on the throne seem more secure than he was exiled by his ungrateful uncle to some distant place. In 1043, he was blinded by the patriarch of Constantinople Michael Cerularius and probably died soon after.

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