Irene īrē´nē , c.750–803, Byzantine empress (797–802). In 800, Charlemagne was crowned emperor by Pope Leo III, on Christmas Day. Theodora was the youngest daughter of Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII and Empress Helena, born in 980 AD. Irene then reigned alone as emperor (not empress) for five years. 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. In early 802 CE, Irene attempted a marriage of alliance with the Franks' king Charlemagne, who was also the newly declared Emperor of the Romans in the west, and who, likewise, was in favour of once more unifying the two halves of the old Roman empire. Irene of Athens was the wife of the Byzantine Emperor Leo IV and mother of Constantine VI, both strong iconoclasts.She ruled jointly with her son, Constantine, after the death of her husband Leo. Once abroad the army was disbanded and their positions of authority back home taken by those more loyal to the Empress. Her usurpation of the imperial throne created a theoretical justification for the coronation of Charlemagne. Share on Facebook. Princeton University Library One Washington Road, Princeton, New Jersey 08544 USA 609.258.1470 phone | 609.258.0441 fax Devoted to the Orthodox Church, she bent most of her efforts to suppressing iconoclasm . 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 & 350 bishops finally ruled to restore the orthodoxy of the veneration of icons in the Christian Church. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. 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. To remain in power she, as usual, killed many people and blinded her own son who died suddenly (but perhaps not surprisingly) after the procedure. Mike Markowitz - July 21, 2020. The Ecumenical Council of Nicaea rules an end to iconoclasm in the. From overcoming oppression, to breaking rules, to reimagining the world or waging a rebellion, these women of history have a story to tell. Officially, Irene may have been a regent for her son the Emperor, but … Born in Athens of a Greek noble family, between the years of 750 and 755, little is known regarding Irene Sarantapechaina's life before ascending to the Byzantine throne. Empress Irene was born between 750 and 755 into a noble family of Athens. Powerful Facts About Empress Irene, The Byzantine Rebel Beauty, brains, and an iron will: Irene of Athens used all of these to stay in power in the cut-throat world of the Byzantine Empire. Empress Irene and the Silk Trade (752-803 CE). IRENE, BYZANTINE EMPRESS Coregnant 780–797, sole ruler from 797 to Oct. 31, 802; b. Athens, c. 752; d. Lesbos, Aug. 9, 803. Irene left a lasting impression not only on Byzantine coins, but also on the empire. https://www.ancient.eu/Empress_Irene/. Mark is a history writer based in Italy. Thousands of new, high-quality pictures added every day. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. An attempt to seize power was crushed by the Empress, who demanded that the military oath of fidelity should recognize her as senior ruler. The Ancient History Encyclopedia logo is a registered EU trademark. Artist: Byzantine; minted in Constantinople (now Istanbul) About this artwork. Irene Palaiologina was the eldest daughter of Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos and empress Theodora Palaiologina, and empress consort of Ivan Asen III of Bulgaria. John Kantakouzenos was a Byzantine prince. Portraits of important people appear on local currency all around the world. Britannica Explores. Another council, which is recognized by both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches as the Seventh Ecumenical Council, met at Nicaea in 787 and restored the cult of images. Nikephoros would reign until his death in battle in 811 CE, unable to halt the decline of the Byzantine empire as Charlemagne’s own empire rose in the west and the Muslim Abbasids threatened from the east. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Constantine then ordered the tongues of all four of his uncles to be torn out. Byzantine Coinage of the Empress Irene – CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series. Her usurpation of the imperial throne created a theoretical justification for the coronation of Charlemagne. English: Saint Irene (Greek: Ειρήνη, Eirēnē) (c. 752 – August 9, 803) was Byzantine empress from 797 to 802. Cite This Work In one ninth-century example, the eunuch Staurakios helped Empress Irene overthrow and blind her own son. In January 792, however, Irene was allowed to return to court and even to resume her position as co-ruler. Leo’s short reign came to an end when he died of fever, aged 30, while campaigning against the Bulgars, but Irene’s appetite for power needed further feeding. Article by Ancient History Encyclopedia Irene´s vassals would have revolted and usurped the title of the Empress of the Byzantine Empire from her. Cartwright, Mark. Britannica Explores. However, even when Constantine was of age at sixteen, his mother still A similar plan had already been attempted when Irene had arranged for her late son to marry Rotrud, the daughter of Charlemagne, but Irene had broken off the engagement in 787 CE. Now 19 years of age and keen to remove his interfering mother once and for all from state affairs, Constantine banished her from court along with her closest advisors while he engaged Michael Lachanodrakon, the influential general and governor of the Thrakesion region of the empire. By. In 783 CE Staurakios sent a Byzantine army to fight the Slavs in Greece, and the next year Irene enjoyed the first military successes of her reign against both Slav and Arab armies. He proved to be an ineffective and unpopular ruler, and Irene seized the throne in 797. The wife of the Byzantine emperor Leo IV, Irene became, on her husband’s death in September 780, guardian of their 10-year-old son, Constantine VI, and co-emperor with him. 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