In spite of these reverses, Irene's military efforts met with some success: in 782 her favoured courtier Staurakios subdued the Slavs of the Balkans and laid the foundations of Byzantine expansion and re-Hellenization in the area. Prior to this, icon usage in the church had been banned. She was 17, when her father died and siblings were estranged by circumstances. Charlemagne invaded Italy early on in his reign, annexing the Lombard kingdom of Italy.  Irene insisted that she had not known the icons were there. , From the beginning, Irene seems to have taken more power for herself than was traditionally expected of female regents. The clergy and nobles attending the ceremony proclaimed Charlemagne as "Augustus". Especially unusual is that, while Constantine V was a militant iconoclast who was known for persecuting venerators of icons, Irene herself displayed iconophile predilections. Their son was born just a little over a year after the marriage. Depiction of Byzantine Empress Irene, the wife of Emperor John II (r. 1118-1143 CE) as found in the Hagia Sophia in modern-day Istanbul (previously Constantinople), Turkey. The Pope thus refused to recognize Irene’s rule. Her family background is not known.  This fact, combined with the limited information available about her family, has led some scholars to speculate that Irene may have been selected in a bride-show, in which eligible young women were paraded before the bridegroom until one was finally selected. Empress Irene (image from “Pala d’Oro”, Venice) Not much is known about Irene’s early life. In 800, Charlemagne was crowned emperor by Pope Leo III, on Christmas Day.  Especially unusual is that, while Constantine V was a militant iconoclast who was known for persecuting venerators of icons, Irene herself displayed iconophile predilections. During her lacklustre reign, Irene ruthlessly schemed and plotted to keep the throne she would lose and regain three times, but she is chiefly remembered for …  She replaced all of them with dignitaries who were loyal to her. With him out of the way, Irene proclaimed herself sole ruler. Irene was born in Athens sometime between 750 and 755. Irene īrē´nē , c.750–803, Byzantine empress (797–802). In 797 Irene had … His eyes were gouged out, and he died from his wounds several days later. To help solidify her claim to the throne, Irene sought a closer relationship with Charlemagne, the King of the Franks. Irene was one of only three female rulers to hold sole power in the 1,100-year-long history of the Byzantine Empire. Empress Irene Series. , Charlemagne was crowned Emperor by Pope Leo III on Christmas Day, 800. During this time Charlemagne was at war with the Saxons, and would later become the new king of the Franks. Amazon Business: For business-only pricing, quantity discounts and FREE Shipping. , Irene's unprecedented position as an empress ruling in her own right was emphasized by the coincidental rise of the Carolingian Empire in Western Europe, which rivaled Irene's Byzantium in size and power. Irene sent a fleet, which succeeded in defeating the Sicilians. There was a religious movement called Iconoclasm at the time, and believers like Leo IV considered religious icons to be a form of idolatry. , As early as 781, Irene began to seek a closer relationship with the Carolingian dynasty and the Papacy in Rome. A revolt in 802 overthrew Irene and exiled her to the island of Lesbos, supplanting her on the throne with Nikephoros I. Irene died in exile less than a year later. An attempt to free himself by force was met and crushed by the Empress, who demanded that the oath of fidelity should thenceforward be taken in her name alone. While she definitely came from an honorable family, many other hopefuls were better suited to the title. In the Iberian Peninsula, Charlemagne's expedition against al-Andalus led to the creation of a buffer zone between Francia and the Islamic world called the Spanish Marches. Learn how and when to remove this template message, Sir Steven Runciman.  Constantine Sarantapechos's son Theophylact was a spatharios and is mentioned as having been involved in suppressing a revolt in 799. Empress Irene of Athens was the first female ruler of the Byzantine Empire. Church, Charlemagne was in fact the political master of Rome itself. One is her role in helping restore the use of Christian icons or images in Byzantium, which had been forbidden in the Eastern Orthodox form of Christianity. When he died in 780, she became regent because his son, Constantine, was only nine years old. Irene's zeal in restoring the icons and monasteries made Theodore the Studite praise her as a saint of the Eastern Orthodox Church, but she was not canonized. He also campaigned against the Saxon tribes in northern Germany for more than thirty years, annexing their territory and compelling them to convert to Christianity, and defeated the Avars in Central Europe.  Rumors were circulated claiming that Leo IV had died of a fever after putting on the jeweled crown that had been dedicated by either Maurice (ruled 582 – 602) or Heraclius (ruled 610 – 641).  She was a member of the noble Greek Sarantapechos family, which had significant political influence in central mainland Greece. 3 primary works • 4 total works. It is believed that she was born of a Greek noble family. Here’s more information about who she was and the impact she played in history: Irene was an orphan related to the Sarantapechos family, a noble family in Athens. Irene, by contrast, believed religious images should be revered. Her hallucinations convince her to give up her rule and take her ship and marry its captain. , Irene's most notable act was the restoration of the veneration of icons (images of Christ or the saints). Her daughter, the erudite Anna Comnena, wrote glowingly of her mother in her history, The Alexiad – extolling her beauty, wisdom, and care for her family.  She had Nikephoros and his four brothers ordained as priests, a status which disqualified them from ruling, and forced them to serve communion at the Hagia Sophia on Christmas Day 780. This series occasionally crossed over with the John Grimes / Rim World books.  Nonetheless, she maintains that it is possible that Irene may have been trying to fill the palace with supporters of iconophilism, which may have triggered Leo IV's crackdown. She died the following year.. Regent and co-empress ruling with Constantine. Elpidius fled to Africa, where he defected to the Abbasid Caliphate. Irene went as far as to send an official to instruct the Frankish princess in Greek; however, Irene herself broke off the engagement in 787, against her son's wishes. Whether he actually desired a coronation at all, remains controversial – his biographer Einhard related that Charlemagne had been surprised by the Pope – but the Eastern Empire felt its role as the sole Roman Empire threatened and began to emphasize its superiority and its Roman identity. Mosaic of Empress Irene, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul. She appointed Tarasios to be the Patriarch of Constantinople. Irene Ducas, (born c. 1066, Constantinople, Byzantine Empire [now Istanbul, Turkey]—died Feb. 19, 1123 [or 1133], Constantinople), wife of the Byzantine emperor Alexius I Comnenus, known from the description of her in the Alexiad of their daughter, Anna Comnena. Charlemagne proposed marriage to Irene, and she accepted.  During Lent of 780, however, Leo IV's policies on iconophiles became much harsher.  Such claims are not supported by the Menaion (the official liturgical book providing the propers of the saints of the Orthodox Church), the "Lives of Saints" by Nikodemos the Hagiorite, or any other relevant book of the Orthodox Church. Leo, however, was a steadfast iconoclastwho, according to tradition, found that Irene possessed icons and thereafter would no longer … "The Empress Irene.  At the same time, Irene appears to have been well aware that her position as regent was insecure. The first of these, held in 786 at Constantinople, was frustrated by the opposition of the iconoclast soldiers. When he died in 780, she became regent because his son, Constantine, was only nine years old. Irene then turned her attention to the restoration of icon veneration. Theodora moved to higher studies, Justin was enthroned and puppeted by Maximian Prothoperos …  After the incident, Leo refused to have marital relations with Irene ever again. Irene of Athens (Greek: Εἰρήνη ἡ Ἀθηναία, Eirénē ē Athēnaía; c. 752 – 9 August 803), surnamed Sarantapechaina (Σαρανταπήχαινα), was Byzantine empress by marriage to Emperor Leo IV from 775 to 780, regent during the minority of their son Constantine VI from 780 until 790, co-regent from 792 until 797, and finally sole ruler and first empress regnant of the Byzantine Empire from 797 to 802. Charlemagne also increasingly modelled his rule after Roman Emperors by sponsoring enormous construction programs, exemplified by the building of his favourite residence at Aachen (in modern-day Germany), standardizing weights and measures and supporting intellectual and artistic endeavors in the Carolingian renaissance. She then became Empress in her own name. Britannica Explores. She was also known to have initiated the Second Council of Nicea. In 800, he decreed that Charlemagne was now the Holy Roman Emperor. Irene Constantina Flavia was born to Emperor Constantine XI as his youngest child in 1575. , As Constantine approached maturity he began to grow restless under the autocratic sway of his mother. In 771, she gave birth to the future Constantine VI.  Her earliest coins depict both herself and her son Constantine VI on the obverse, listing them as co-rulers rather than as ruler and regent.  He ordered for a number of prominent courtiers to be arrested, scourged, tonsured, and tortured after they were caught venerating icons. Written by GreekBoston.com in Ancient Greek History
, According to the 11th century historian George Kedrenos, who wrote many centuries after Irene's death, this crackdown on iconophiles began after Leo IV discovered two icons hidden underneath Irene's pillow. Irene fled to Lesbos and died there a year later. , On 14 January 771, Irene gave birth to a son, the future Constantine VI, who was named after his grandfather, Irene's father-in-law, Constantine V. When Constantine V died in September 775, Leo IV ascended to the throne at the age of twenty-five, and Irene became empress. Examples of Empress Irene in the following topics: The Emperor Irene. The strategos of the Bucellarian Theme, Tatzates, defected to the Abbasids, and Irene had to agree to pay an annual tribute of 70,000 or 90,000 dinars to the Abbasids for a three-year truce, to give them 10,000 silk garments, and to provide them with guides, provisions, and access to markets during their withdrawal. In support of Charlemagne's coronation, some argued that the Imperial position was actually vacant, deeming a woman unfit to be Emperor; however, Charlemagne made no claim to the Eastern Roman Empire. Certainly, in both 787 and 843 icon-veneration was restored as orthodox practice by an empress ruling as regent for an under-age son: both empresses, Irene and Theodora, were later canonised. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014), 80, 98-99. Seized by his attendants on the Asiatic shore of the Bosphorus, Constantine was carried back to the palace at Constantinople. Irene was born in Athens about the year 752. This page was last edited on 28 December 2020, at 03:39. , Irene was brought to Constantinople by Emperor Constantine V on 1 November 768 and was married to his son Leo IV on 17 December. She Wasn’t The Most Likely Candidate For Empress No one knows exactly how the Roman Emperor, Constantine V, came to choose Irene as the bride of his son Leo IV. Irene was brought to Constantinople by Emperor Constantine V on 1 November 768 and was married to his son Leo IVon 17 December. Irene Ducaena was the wife and empress of Alexios I Comnenus, marrying him shortly after he seized the throne on April 1, 1081. Special offers and product promotions. Nevertheless, Irene was constantly harried by the Abbasids, and in 782 and 798 had to accept the terms of the respective Caliphs Al-Mahdi and Harun al-Rashid.  When Patriarch Nicetas I of Constantinople died in 780, Leo IV appointed Paul of Cyprus, who had iconophile sympathies, as his successor, although he did force him to swear oaths that he would uphold the official iconoclasm.  (See Seventh Ecumenical Council. Saints and Feasts: Apodosis of the Transfiguration Empress Irene (tonsured Xenia), wife of Emperor John II Comnenus Venerable Abba Dorotheus of Gaza Eudocia the Empress, wife of Theodosius the Younger, in Palestine Translation of the relics of Venerable Maximus the Confessor Our Righteous Fathers Sergius, Stephanus, Castor and Palamonus Tikhon of Zadonsk, Bishop of Voronezh and …  If this was the case, then she would have been the first imperial bride to be selected in this manner. As Irene's son Constantine reached maturity, he began to move out from under the influence of his mother. Called “Irene of Athens” in honor of her birthplace, Irene is mainly remembered for two dramatic events. Her usurpation of the imperial throne created a theoretical justification for the coronation of Charlemagne. It is unclear why she was selected as the bride for the young Leo IV. From 797 to 802 CE she ruled as emperor in her own right, the first woman to do so in Byzantine history. , Although it is often asserted that, as monarch, Irene called herself "basileus" (βασιλεύς), 'emperor', rather than "basilissa" (βασίλισσα), 'empress', in fact there are only three instances where it is known that she used the title "basileus": two legal documents in which she signed herself as "Emperor of the Romans" and a gold coin of hers found in Sicily bearing the title of "basileus".  He had them tortured and scolded Irene for violating the law and breaking with her faith. Constantine became even less popular when he repudiated his empress in favor of his mistress Theodote. This fact, combined with the limited information available about her family, has led some scholars to speculate that Irene may have been sel… After the success of Constantine V's general, Michael Lachanodrakon, who foiled an Abbasid attack on the eastern frontiers, a huge Abbasid army under Harun al-Rashid invaded Anatolia in summer 782. Empress Irene set out to solve the issue of iconoclasm which was established in the empire. Irene’s unprecedented position as an empress ruling in her own right was emphasized by the coincidental rise of the Carolingian Empire in western Europe, which rivaled Irene’s Byzantium in size and power. Secondary sources In 797, Irene organized a conspiracy in which her supporters gouged out her son's eyes, maiming him severely. As he grew older, Constantine VI increasingly impatient under his mother’s rule.  Irene herself may have promoted this rumor in an effort to smear her deceased husband's memory. During her time as regent, she had several military successes. ), While this greatly improved relations with the Papacy, it did not prevent the outbreak of a war with the Franks, who took over Istria and Benevento in 788. Empress Irene, who was alive from 752 AD to 803 AD, was one of the these figures. Empress Irene, also known as Irene of Athens, was the consort of Emperor Leo IV, who ruled Byzantium.  Although she was an orphan, her uncle or cousin Constantine Sarantapechos was a patrician and possibly also a strategos ("general") of the theme of Hellas at the end of the eighth century. 45,46; published 2009; See Garland, p. 89, who explains that Aetios was attempting to usurp power on behalf of his brother Leo. Having chosen Tarasios, one of her partisans and her former secretary, as Patriarch of Constantinople in 784, she summoned two church councils. Empress Irene and the Silk Trade (752-803 CE).  It is unclear why she was selected as the bride for the young Leo IV. , Leo IV, though an iconoclast like his father, pursued a policy of moderation towards iconophiles. Empress Irene was the wife of Leo IV and, on her husband’s death, she reigned as regent for her son Constantine VI from 780 to 790 CE. She gave birth to a son, Constantine, on January 14, 771. Irene Doukaina or Ducaena (Greek: Ειρήνη Δούκαινα, Eirēnē Doukaina) (c. 1066 – February 19, 1123 or 1133) was the wife of the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos, and the mother of the emperor John II Komnenos and of the historian Anna Komnene. In this video, I cover the career of the Empress Irene and discuss why she is one of the most controversial figures in Byzantine history. He was imprisoned and probably died shortly afterwards. She was educated like any other Greek Byzantine noble girl of her class. Empress Irene, also known as Irene of Athens, was the consort of Emperor Leo IV, who ruled Byzantium. Claims about her supposed canonization are mainly from Western sources. In the early 790s, several revolts tried to proclaim him as sole ruler. Next. Moreover, Charlemagne issued laws called "capitularies" in the style of a Roman Emperor. A solar eclipse and darkness lasting 17 days were attributed to the horror of Heaven. 1 Early Life (752 AD-768 AD) 2 Empress Consort (786 AD-780 AD) 3 Empress Regent (780 AD-797 AD) 4 Empress (797 AD-802 AD) 5 Referring literature to Eirene Irene Sarantapechos was born into a wealthy patrician family in Athens in the year 752 AD. Comments Off on What to Know About Empress Irene of the Byzantine Empire. Empress Irene was the wife of Leo IV and, on her husband’s death, she reigned as regent for her son Constantine VI from 780 to 790 CE. In relation to the coin, the lettering is of poor quality and the attribution to Irene may be problematic. She was an orphan, and there is some mystery around why she was chosen from obscurity to be the bride of Leo IV, heir to Constantinople. Sensationnel 100% Premium Fiber Empress Free Part Easy 3-Way Parting Lace Front Edge Wig - KAILYN (2) 3.9 out of 5 stars 13.  Furthermore, Irene is shown holding the orb, not Constantine, and only Irene's name is listed on the obverse of the coin, with Constantine VI's name only listed on the reverse, the less important side. In 802, before they could marry, Nikephoros staged a coup and overthrew her. She served (780–90) as regent for her son, Constantine VI , and later was made (792) joint ruler. Ten years later, he assumed the throne as Constantine VI. He proved to be an ineffective and unpopular ruler, and Irene seized the throne in 797. A female relative of Irene, Theophano, was chosen in 807 by Emperor Nikephoros I as the bride of his son and heir Staurakios. This rare coin, minted during her reign, not surprisingly incorporates remarkable iconographical innovations, with every detail stressing her sole imperial authority. , In 802 the patricians conspired against her, deposing her on 31 October, and placing Nikephoros, the minister of finance (logothetēs tou genikou), on the throne. More. Irene was also known for her generous financial policies, which were especially friendly to monasteries. Because of that, there are many prominent historical figures from the Empire that came from Greece.  Possibly hoping to placate supporters of her husband's family, Irene is reported to have proposed that Leo IV's sister Anthousa should join her as co-regent, but Anthousa is said to have rejected the offer. His half-brother, Nikephoros, almost immediately challenged Irene’s rule as regent. The discontent which this occasioned swelled in 790 into open resistance, and the soldiers, headed by the army of the Armeniacs, formally proclaimed Constantine VI as the sole ruler. She thus became the first Empress of Byzantium and ruled as such until 802. A After her death, she became a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church.  He removed the penalties on monasteries that had been imposed by his father and began appointing monks as bishops. Irene is said to have endeavoured to bring about a marriage alliance between herself and Charlemagne, but according to Theophanes the Confessor, who alone mentions it, the scheme was frustrated by Aetios, one of her favourites. Liz James, "Men, Women, Eunuchs: Gender, Sex, and Power" in "A Social History of Byzantium" (J. Haldon, ed.) A member of the politically prominent Sarantapechos family, she was selected as Leo IV's bride for unknown reasons in 768. Irene came from a noble family in Athens. The Byzantine Empire, also IQown as the East Roman Empire, was founded by There was a time when Greece was part of the Byzantine Empire. Holland, Cecilia (fiction), The Belt of Gold (1984). She negotiated a marriage between her son and his daughter. In 783, Irene enjoyed her first military success when her favorite courtier Staurakios led an army against the Slavs in Greece. 2. Irene was exiled to Lesbos and forced to support herself by spinning wool. Irene of Athens or Irene the Athenian (Greek: Εἰρήνη ἡ Ἀθηναία; c. 752 – 9 August 803 AD) is the commonly known name of Irene Sarantapechaina (Greek: Εἰρήνη Σαρανταπήχαινα), Byzantine empress regnant from 797 to 802. She born between 750 and 755 CE and was related in some way to the noble Greek Sarantapechos family of Athens. An East Roman (Byzantine) empress, Irene of Athens (752-803) convened the Seventh Ecumenical Council and restored the veneration of icons in the Byzantine Empire. 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