Unfortunately, the young emperor was not actually up to the task. She had Tarasius, one of her supporters, elected patriarch of Constantinople and then summoned a general church council on the subject. By. Before that, Irene was empress consort from 775 to 780, and empress dowager and regent from 780 to 797. In 797 Irene had … Ancient History Encyclopedia. We have also been recommended for educational use by the following publications: Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization registered in Canada. Share on Facebook. Next, Irene convened a Church council in Constantinople in 786 CE to put an official end to the destruction of icons (iconoclasm). Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Meet extraordinary women who dared to bring gender equality and other issues to the forefront. Constantine VI was proclaimed sole ruler and his mother banished from court. The army was all too unimpressed with the young emperor, and his popularity plummeted even further when he began to blame his soldiers for their defeats, taking the ill-advised action (cunningly suggested by Irene, of course) of tattooing the word “traitor” on the faces of 1,000 of them. Theodora, 500 – 548. There Irene and 350 invited bishops finally ruled to restore the orthodoxy of the veneration of icons in the Christian Church and end iconoclasm. Ten years later, he assumed the throne as Constantine VI. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/Empress_Irene/. A final crushing blow to Constantine’s ambitions was the protests following his divorce and subsequent marriage to his mistress Theodote, the so-called Moechian Controversy, in 795 CE. With the army opposition dealt with, Staurakios accompanied Irene to the Seventh Ecumenical Council at Nicaea in September 787 CE. The Empress was not to be deterred, though, and she swiftly stationed the troublemakers to Asia Minor under the guise of preparations for a new military campaign. Anger at the demand prompted the themes (administrative divisions) of Asia Minor to open resistance in 790. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. A relative of Irene’s, Theophano of Athens, was married in 807 by Nikephoros to his son Staurakios. From 797 to 802 CE she ruled as emperor in her own right, the first woman to do so in Byzantine history. There were often coups against the ruler in the Byzantine Empire and it means that the union between the Frankish and the Byzantine Empires would have been quite short. Ancient History Encyclopedia. By skillful intrigues with the bishops and courtiers she organized a conspiracy against Constantine, who was arrested and blinded at his mother’s orders (797). Byzantine Ivory Panel Depicting the Adoration of the Magiby Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin (CC BY-NC-SA). Image of christianity, jesus, pantocrator - 131388754 Constantine then ordered the tongues of all four of his uncles to be torn out. https://www.ancient.eu/Empress_Irene/. Genealogy profile for Irene of Athens, Byzantine Empress Irene Sarantapechaina (c.752 - 803) - Genealogy Genealogy for Irene Sarantapechaina (c.752 - 803) family tree on Geni, with over 200 million profiles of ancestors and living relatives. Irene was a strong iconodule.She arranged the convening of the Second Council of Nicea in 787 that restored the practice of veneration of icons. She was not without her troubles, though, as rebellion was still in the air and was given focus by the surviving, albeit maimed, sons of Constantine V. The Arabs had to be paid off to avoid further invasion, all but bankrupting the state, and the people could never quite forgive her for her crimes, even if she did provide soup kitchens for the poor and accommodation for the elderly. Cartwright, Mark. 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. During Irene’s reign, the Arabs were continuing to raid into and despoil the small farms of the Anatolian section of the empire. There was not going to be another rebellion against her rule. Instead, they were permitted to repent of their sins and welcomed back into the Church now glittering once again with its precious icons. "Empress Irene." Ancient History Encyclopedia. She served (780–90) as regent for her son, Constantine VI , and later was made (792) joint ruler. i'm doing a report on infamous people and want to know whether or not she is infamous. Religious affairs seem always to have been foremost in the regent’s plans, and in 784 CE she made her former secretary Tarasios the Patriarch (Bishop) of Constantinople, despite him not yet being ordained. A After her death, she became a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. The emperor had lost the support of the one group he could always depend on; the iconophiles. Some Rights Reserved (2009-2021) under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license unless otherwise noted. It was a rare moment of decision, but it was too little, too late. After her death, she became a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church.. 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. It simply would not do for a Byzantine emperor to marry an illiterate barbarian, even if he had been blessed by the Pope and wore spectacular red tights. 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. 100 … He holds an MA in Political Philosophy and is the Publishing Director at AHE. Portraits of important people appear on local currency all around the world. Byzantine Empress Irene 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. Irene Ducaena was the wife and empress of Alexios I Comnenus, marrying him shortly after he seized the throne on April 1, 1081. He was crowned co-emperor in 776, and became sole emperor in 780, aged only nine. 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. Constantine’s unpopularity with his people and the Byzantine establishment meant that he had no friends left to block his removal from power by his own mother. Piroska of Hungary Árpád dynasty Born: 1088 Died: 1134 Royal titles Preceded by Irene Doukaina Byzantine Empress consort 1118–1134 Succeeded by Bertha of Sulzbach In 802 a conspiracy of officials and generals deposed her and placed on the throne Nicephorus, the minister of finance. your own Pins on Pinterest Empress Irene and the Silk Trade (752-803 CE). His special interests include pottery, architecture, world mythology and discovering the ideas that all civilizations share in common. Discover (and save!) 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. As empress, Irene made determined efforts to stamp out iconoclasm everywhere in the empire, including within the ranks of the army. 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 restoring the Christian veneration of icons, which her predecessors of the Isaurian dynasty had sought so vehemently to repress. The army still contained many iconoclasts, and they had refused to swear loyalty to Irene alone on religious grounds. Cite This Work Her usurpation of the imperial throne created a theoretical justification for the coronation of Charlemagne. The Emperor Theophilus (r. 829–842) had two-winged bronze doors with his monograms installed at the southern entrance of … 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. Cartwright, Mark. She was exiled, first to the island of Prinkipo (now Büyükada) and then to Lesbos. Empress Irene. She was educated like any other Greek Byzantine noble girl of her class. Little is known of the young Irene except that she was an extraordinarily beautiful orphan girl from Athens, born c. 752 CE. 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. 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. Due to his young age, his mother Irene and her chief minister Staurakios ruled in his stead. Constantine VI ruled from 780 to 797 CE, inheriting his title aged just nine. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. The persecution of iconophiles had been a key feature of previous emperors' reigns, especially Irene’s father-in-law Constantine V, so the Empress could not be too harsh on the perpetrators and risk alienating family members at court. 2760. 0. Princeton University Library One Washington Road, Princeton, New Jersey 08544 USA 609.258.1470 phone | 609.258.0441 fax 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. Mike Markowitz - July 21, 2020. Britannica Explores. Irene was also known for her generous financial policies, which were especially friendly to monasteries. Irene Doukaina or Ducaena (Greek: Εἰρήνη Δούκαινα, Eirēnē Doukaina; c. 1066 – 19 February 1138) was a Byzantine Empress by marriage to the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos, and the mother of the emperor John II Komnenos and of the historian Anna Komnene. To make matters worse, the couple had a son 18 months later. Omissions? Irene built the palace of Eleutherios, which was surrounded by the silk workshops. Troubled times were in store for Byzantium’s most ambitious and ruthless of sovereigns. Byzantine Coinage of the Empress Irene – CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series. Irene & 350 bishops finally ruled to restore the orthodoxy of the veneration of icons in the Christian Church. Later in that year she crushed what seems to have been a plot by the Iconoclasts (opposers of the use of icons) to put Leo’s half brother, Nicephorus, on the throne. Empress Irene of Athens was the first female ruler of the Byzantine Empire. Irene responded by throwing him in prison, but by 790 CE the army came to Constantine’s support and released him. Two monks were especially vociferous in their outrage at the emperor’s behaviour as head of the Church, Plato of Sakkoudion and Theodore of Stoudios, who both claimed that his divorce was illegal and so in marrying again the emperor had committed adultery. After a decade in the shadows, Constantine took his rightful place at the apex of Byzantine government. In effect, they ruled jointly for the next five years, but Irene soon began to plot against her son. Irene then reigned alone as emperor (not empress) for five years. Irene was not to be so easily ushered to the wings of power, either, and she returned to the court in 792 CE, invited by her son as a last-ditch attempt to restore some order to his reign. Irene was removed, exiled to a monastery on Lesbos and succeeded by Nikephoros I, one of the Empress’ former finance ministers. The clergy and nobles attending the ceremony proclaimed Charlemagne as “Emperor of the Roman Empire.” In support of Charlemagne’s coronation, some argued that the imperial position was actually vacant, deeming a wom… Solidus (Coin) of Empress Irene Date: 797-802. 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. 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. As Constantine approached maturity, he grew resentful of his mother’s controlling influence in the empire. Tweet on Twitter. When Irene made it be known that she intended to rule above her son Constantine no matter how old he was, many of those who opposed the restoration of icons, saw the dangers to the empire’s army strength Irene’s purges had threatened, and who believed Constantine had the rightful claim to the throne alone, rallied around the young emperor. Theodora was the youngest daughter of Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII and Empress Helena, born in 980 AD. Prior to becoming empress regnant, Irene was empress consort from 775 to 780, and empress dowager and regent from 780 to 797. 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. He proved to be an ineffective and unpopular ruler, and Irene seized the throne in 797. 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. 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. Updates? 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. Constantine VI (771-804) was the only child of Emperor Leo IV and Empress Irene. 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. Today, the word “Byzantine” can refer to an atmosphere of confusion and intrigue, and that was certainly true of the court in Constantinople. Saint Irene (Greek Ειρήνη η Αθηναία) (c. 752 - August 9, 803) was a Byzantine empress (although she called herself basileus, the male form of the word "emperor," rather than basilissa, "empress") from 797 to 802.She was the wife of Leo IV.. The former was logothetes tou dromou or chief minister with a wide range of powers. Aetios or Aetius (Greek: Ἀέτιος) was a Byzantine eunuch official and one of the most trusted advisers of Byzantine empress Irene of Athens (r. 797–802). 0. Irene Ducaena was the wife and empress of Alexios I Comnenus, marrying him shortly after he seized the throne on April 1, 1081. Theodora, 500 – 548. In 797 CE, when Irene took back the throne for herself, she blinded her son, doing so in the same purple chamber of the palace in which he had been born. Irene Doukaina or Ducaena (Greek: Εἰρήνη Δούκαινα, Eirēnē Doukaina; c. 1066 – 19 February 1138) was a Byzantine empress by marriage to the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos, and the mother of Emperor John II Komnenos and of the historian Anna Komnene. In 798 she opened diplomatic relations with the Western emperor Charlemagne, and in 802 a marriage between her and Charlemagne was reportedly contemplated. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Irene-Byzantine-empress-752-803, Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors - Biography of Constantine VI and Irene. After a brief reprieve under Empress Irene (797–802), the iconoclasts made a comeback. Tweet on Twitter. Byzantine Ivory Panel Depicting the Adoration of the Magi, by Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin (CC BY-NC-SA), In 797 CE Irene took back the throne for herself & blinded her son, doing so in the same purple chamber of the, by Metropolitan Museum of Art (Copyright). 16 Jan 2021. Related Content Although married to Leo IV, "the Khazar," one of the more moderate iconoclastic emperors, Irene herself strongly supported the veneration of images. Also, to open the posts of this year, certainly later than planned, we begin with the Byzantine Empress Irene of Athens and how important she was to the Orthodox Eastern Church. Mike Markowitz - July 21, 2020. John Kantakouzenos was a Byzantine prince. Serious and immediate defeats against the Bulgars and a shameful truce against the Arabs did nothing to aid his popularity, and conspiracies at court were rife. 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. The wedding took place in 769 CE, and she immediately influenced state policy by tempering her husband’s attacks on the Church’s veneration of icons. Riding around Constantinople in a golden chariot launching coins into the crowds did not help much either. Mark is a history writer based in Italy. Even this seemingly pious campaign was really only a means for Irene to defeat her enemies and keep power. Significantly, Constantine could no longer call on the support of Michael Lachanodrakon, the general having been killed that year while campaigning against the Bulgars. 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. However, influential members of the army were against such a move, and they organised a riot which forced the closure of the council meetings. Irene, (born c. 752, Athens—died Aug. 9, 803, Lesbos), Byzantine ruler and saint of the Greek Orthodox Church who was instrumental in restoring the use of icons in the Eastern Roman Empire. 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. One led by Constantine’s uncle Nikephoros was quashed, and the emperor blinded the ringleader in an all too familiar act of imperial Byzantine brutality. The same was true in ancient Rome, which began producing its first coinage in the late 4th century BC. Web. Irene left a lasting impression not only on Byzantine coins, but also on the 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. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). 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. She was also known to have initiated the Second Council of Nicea. Irene Doukaina or Ducaena (Greek: Εἰρήνη Δούκαινα, Eirēnē Doukaina; c. 1066 – 19 February 1138) was a Byzantine Empress by marriage to the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos, and the mother of the emperor John II Komnenos and of the historian Anna Komnene. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this content non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms. By her marriage to Emperor Leo IV the Khazar, Irene had only one son Constantine VI, whom she succeeded on the throne. Called “Irene of Athens” in honor of her birthplace, Irene is mainly remembered for two dramatic events. The Empress’ gold coins reveal much of her duplicitous character for, uniquely, they carried a portrait of herself on both sides. The cycle of royal assassinations that Irene began with the murder of her son would keep on turning so that the Byzantines would see six emperors in the space of 15 years. Irene 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. Irene of Athens (Greek: Εἰρήνη ἡ Ἀθηναία; c. 752 – 9 August 803 AD), also known as Irene Sarantapechaina (Greek: Εἰρήνη Σαρανταπήχαινα), was Byzantine empress consort by marriage to Leo IV from 775 to 780, Byzantine regent during the minority of her son Constantine VI from 780 until 790, and finally ruling Byzantine (Eastern Roman) empress from 797 to 802. After violent opposition from Iconoclasts, Irene managed to arrange the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, at which the use of Icons was restored. Ruling as regent for her young son over the next decade, Irene quashed a rebellion led by the sons of Constantine V, dismissed ministers and military men whose loyalty was questionable and made use of the experience of two court eunuchs, in particular, Staurakios and Aetios. Empress Irene of Athens was the first female ruler of the Byzantine Empire. 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. However, even when Constantine was of age at sixteen, his mother still On this day, August 31, in 1056 AD, Byzantine Empress Theodora Porphyrogenita passed away. English: Saint Irene (Greek: Ειρήνη, Eirēnē) (c. 752 – August 9, 803) was Byzantine empress from 797 to 802. Photo about Emperor John II Comnenus, Virgin Mary with Jesus and Empress Irene on Byzantine mosaic in Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey,March,11 2017. Called “Irene of Athens” in honor of her birthplace, Irene is mainly remembered for two dramatic events. Irene died on August 13, 1134 and was later venerated as Saint Irene. The historian J. J. Norwich gives this grim assessment of Irene’s reign: Scheming and duplicitous, consumed by ambition and ever thirsty for power, she brought dissension and disaster to the Empire, being additionally guilty of one of the foulest murders that even Byzantine history records. This is a list Roman empresses.A Roman empress was a woman who was the wife of a Roman emperor, the ruler of the Roman Empire.. Constantine’s first wife, Maria, became a nun after their divorce. Our latest articles delivered to your inbox, once a week: Numerous educational institutions recommend us, including Oxford University and Michigan State University and University of Missouri. Books Once abroad the army was disbanded and their positions of authority back home taken by those more loyal to the Empress. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 15 Nov 2017. In 800, Charlemagne was crowned emperor by Pope Leo III, on Christmas Day. THE NICENE CREED On the evening of the 19 June 325: The Nicene Cree... d is presented for the first time, during the Council in Nicaea, to Emperor Constantine the Great (after being agreed by Papal legates and other bishops). She continued to take an interest in all matters of her empire: politics, warfare, and religion combined and tried to win favour by announcing reductions in taxes for her people. There, eunuchs and courtiers jockeyed for influence and emperors ruled through powerful favorites. Mosaic of Empress Irene, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul. Irene favoured the restoration of the use of icons, which had been prohibited in 730. 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. In January 792, however, Irene was allowed to return to court and even to resume her position as co-ruler. The Ecumenical Council of Nicaea rules an end to iconoclasm in the. Empress Irene and the Silk Trade (752-803 CE). Byzantine Empress Irene 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. In one ninth-century example, the eunuch Staurakios helped Empress Irene overthrow and blind her own son. Byzantine Mosaic or Portrait of Byzantine Empress Irene of Athens (c752-803) reigned 797-802, in the South Gallery of Hagia Sophia Church Museum, Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey Byzantine Empress Irene and Emperor Constantine VI. Constantine died shortly afterwards, almost certainly as a result of his injuries, which were intended to kill not maim. Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western... Women in Purple: Rulers of Medieval Byzantium, Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. 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