Constantine Monomachos was the son of Theodosios Monomachos, an important bureaucrat under Basil II and Constantine VIII. At some point, Theodosios had been suspected of conspiracy and his son's career suffered accordingly. Constantine's position improved after he married his second wife, a niece of Emperor Romanos III Argyros. Catching the eye of Empress Zoe, Constantine was exiled to Mytilene on the island of Lesbos by her second husband, Michael IV.
The death of Michael IV and the overthrow of Michael V in 1042 led to Constantine being recalled from his place of exile and appointed as a judge in Greece. However, prior to commencing his appointment, Constantine was summoned to Constantinople, where the fragile working relationship between Michael V’s successors, the empresses Zoe and Theodora, was breaking down. After two months of increasing acrimony between the two, Zoe decided to search for a new husband, thereby hoping to prevent her sister from increasing her popularity and authority.
After her first preference displayed contempt for the empress, and her second died under mysterious circumstances, Zoe remembered the handsome and urbane Constantine. The pair were married on June 11, 1042, without the participation of Patriarch Alexius I of Constantinople, who refused to officiate over a third marriage (for both spouses). On the following day, Constantine was formally proclaimed emperor together with Zoe and her sister Theodora.