Irene was born in Athens about the year 752. Irene of Athens - Champion of Orthodoxy and the Birth of the Welfare State. Irene was related to the noble Greek Sarantapechos family of Athens. Information and translations of irene of athens in the most comprehensive dictionary definitions resource on the At this time, October 31, 802, the nobles of the empire, having been concerned with her financial incompetency, took action and chose Nikephoros, Irene's finance minister, as emperor. Events came to a head when emissaries from Charlemagne and Pope Leo arrived in Constantinople with a proposal of marriage between Irene and Charlemagne. Irene’s zeal in restoring icons and her patronage of monasteries ensured her a place among the saints of the Greek Orthodox Church. To forestall threats of disloyalty and to strengthen her position in these feuds, Irene demanded that oaths of fidelity be taken only in her name. In 790, discontent swelled to open resistance when soldiers from the Theme of Armeniacs proclaimed Constantine the sole ruler. She is most remembered for her marriage to Charlemagne in 803, unifying the Franks and the Byzantines. She ruled jointly with her son, Constantine, after the death of her husband Leo. Irene was born in Athens, sometime between 750-755. She was exiled, first to the island of Prinkipo (now Büyükada) and then to Lesbos. Irene was born to a noble Greekfamily of Athens, the Sarantapechos family. With the election of Tarasius as the Patriarch of Constantinople on December 25, 784, she was able to convene the Seventh Ecumenical Council. Britannica Explores. Biography Irene was born in 752 to the House of Sarantapechos, the daughter of Theophylaktos Sarantapechos, and she married Emperor Leo IV of Byzantium. Nikephoros was then crowned by Patriarch Tarasius in Hagia Sophia Cathedral. By this marriage they had two daughters, Euphrosyne and Irene. 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. Irene's place in the Orthodox Christian church is that of a strong defender of the veneration of images. Her family background is not known. 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. Thus the two halves of the Roman empire would be united. In January 771 Irene gave birth to a son, the goal of all queens and empresses of the time. Since Irene didn’t have any siblings, she must have had quite a lonely childhood being shuttled from one house to another. Empress Irene of Athens was the first female ruler of the Byzantine Empire. A female relative of Irene, Theophano was chosen in 807 by Empereor Nikephoros as the bride of his son Staurakios. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com: accessed ), memorial page for Irene of Athens (c.752–803), Find a Grave Memorial no. Her common name was Irene Sarantapechaina, she was born to a noble family in Athens; but she became an orphan at a young age, her uncle took her under his wing and using his political influences, he helped her to secure a an advantageous marriage. Leo, however, was a steadfast iconoclastwho, according to tradition, found that Irene possessed icons and thereafter would no longer … She gave birth to a son, Constantine, on January 14, 771. An unnamed female relative was married to the Bulgar ruler Telerig in 776. In 798 she opened diplomatic relations with the Western emperor Charlemagne, and in 802 a marriage between her and Charlemagne was reportedly contemplated. We don’t know much about her parents, but she was very young when they passed, leaving the poor little girl at the mercy of different relatives. In 802 Irene was deposed and exiled to Prinkipo (now Büyükada) and then to Lesbos, where she died August 9, 803. Empress Irene of Athens was the first female ruler of the Byzantine Empire. Portraits [] She was brought to Constantinople by Emperor Constantine V on 1 November 769, and was married to his son Leo IV on 17 December. Irene of Athens (Greek: Εἰρήνη ἡ Ἀθηναία; c. 752 – 9 August 803 AD), also known as Irene Sarantapechaina (Greek: Εἰρήνη Σαρανταπήχαινα), was Byzantine empress from 797 to 802. In 802 a conspiracy of officials and generals deposed her and placed on the throne Nicephorus, the minister of finance. Please leave this field empty Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and join Irene favoured the restoration of the use of icons, which had been prohibited in 730. Irene of Athens (780-802), Solidus, Constantinople, AD 797-802 AV (g 4,41; mm 19; h 6) Bust of Irene facing, wearing loros and crown with cross, pinnacles and pendilia, holding a globus cruciger and a cross tipped sceptre, Rv. She apparently was a beautiful but orphaned girl who at the age of seventeen was brought to Constantinople by the Emperor Constantine V to be married to his son Leo in November 769. Learning from the experience in Constantinople, Irene arranged that the council in 787 would be away from the capital, in Nicea, which incidentally was the site of Constantine the Great's council of 325. By her marriage to Emperor Leo IV the Khazar, Irene had only one son Constantine VI, whom she succeeded on the throne. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. Her family background is not known. Lethal and beautiful, one of the most evil women in history but also one of the most influential. For what she thought was for the safety and protection of her family Being in poor health, Leo died after only five years as emperor, on September 8, 780. Seeking closer relations with the Carolingians, Irene negotiated a marriage between her son and Rotrude, who was a daughter of Charlemagne by his third wife Hildegard. FAQs. The council affirmed the principle of veneration of icons and declared iconoclasm a heresy. This came at a critical point in history, when the eastern empire was controlled by iconoclasts. She was married by Constantine V, ruler of the Eastern Empire, to his son, the future Leo IV, in 769. They are considered the most important person in … Captured by forces friendly to Irene, Constantine was brought back to Constantinople to the Purple Palace, Porphyra, where he was born, and there blinded in mid-August 797, apparently with the foreknowledge of his mother, Irene. Rivalries in court also intensified. Theodore the Studite wrote a praising letter [1] to Irene because of her work in supporting icons. The rival factions continued their intrigues and, in 797, Constantine found it necessary to flee the palace. An attempt to seize power was crushed by the Empress, who demanded that the military oath of fidelity should recognize her as senior ruler. When it met in Constantinople in 786, it was broken up by Iconoclast soldiers stationed in that city. Civilization VI Wiki is a Fandom Gaming Community. Treadgold, 'The Unpublished Saint's Life of the Empress Irene', Byzantinische Forschungen, 7 (1982) 237-51. https://orthodoxwiki.org/index.php?title=Irene_of_Athens&oldid=120658. 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. Constantine VI was proclaimed sole ruler and his mother banished from court. The couple were married in November 788. Although she was an orphan, her uncle, Constantine Sarantapechos, was a patricianand possibly strategosof the themeof Hellas. 42759397, citing Constantinople, Monastery of St Euphrosyne, Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey ; Maintained by Find A Grave . Definition of irene of athens in the Definitions.net dictionary. Each of these women's stories is a great … It is believed that she was born of a Greek noble family. Please consider supporting OrthodoxWiki. Irene had taken a hands-off attitude with Constantine's handling of his marriage. Although she was an orphan, her uncle or cousin Constantine Sarantapechos was a patrician and was possibly strategos of the theme of Hellas at the end of the 8th century. However, after she had disclosed the location of the imperial treasures she held Nikephoros banished her to the island of Lesbos, where she supported herself by spinning. Her feast day is August 9. Corrections? By 792, the feud between Irene and her son had cooled and Irene's title as empress was confirmed. When it comes to Irene of Athens, who ruled the Byzantine Empire at the turn of the 9 th century, iconoclasm was fine as long as it wasn’t for religious reasons. Irene of Athens, Byzantine basilissa, is comparable to Egyptian queen Hatshepsut, and Russian empress Catherine the Great. From overcoming oppression, to breaking rules, to reimagining the world or waging a rebellion, these women of history have a story to tell. 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. She was brought to Constantinopleby Emperor Constantine Von November 1, 769, and was married to his son Leo IVon December 17. She died on August 9, 803. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. See Article History. Although she was an orphan, her uncle, Constantine Sarantapechos, was a patrician and possibly strategos of the theme of Hellas. Ruling alone, Irene reigned from 797 to 802, calling herself basileus (βασιλεύς), "emperor," rather than basilissa (βασίλισσα), "empress." Meaning of irene of athens. She gave birth to a son, Constantine, on January 14, 771. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Before becoming empress, she was consort to Leo IV from 775 to 780 and empress dowager from 780 to 797. In January 792, however, Irene was allowed to return to court and even to resume her position as co-ruler. To blunt the threat from the half-brothers, she had them ordained as priests, since clergy could not rule. Irene of Athens (c.752-30 September 806), also known as Irene Sarantapechos, was the Byzantine Empress regnant from 797 to 806. Irene was a strong iconodule. As Constantine approached maturity, he grew resentful of his mother’s controlling influence in the empire. Same Irene acceded to the change of events and only asked to continue to live as a private citizen in her palace. Then, she had them administer communion at the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord to demonstrate that they had rejected politics. It is believed that she was born of a Greek noble family. Constantine, however, did not like Maria and forced her to become a nun. Irene Serantapechaina, known as Irene of Athens or Irene the Athenian (Greek: Ειρήνη η Αθηναία, "Eirēnē") (c. 752 – August 9, 803) was a Byzantine empress regnant from 797 to 802, having previously been Empress consort from Not having a dynastic background, Irene was continually confronted by opposition forces, some of whom used Leo's half-brothers as figureheads. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Irene was born in Athens about the year 752. Initially convened in Constantinople on August 1, 786, the council was moved to Nicea in May 787 because of the instigated opposition in Constantinople of soldiers loyal to the iconoclasts who forced the dissolution of the 786 sessions. 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. Irene of Athens is similar to these monarches: Tzitzak, Theophylact (son of Michael I), Aelia Eudocia and more. 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). She sponsored many philanthropic endeavors, remitting taxes and canceling payments from soldiers' widows, which were required in lieu of the deceased soldiers' military service. Irene of Byzantium (752-9 August 803) was the Empress of the Byzantine Empire from 797 to 802, succeeding Constantine VI of Byzantium and preceding Nicephorus I of Byzantium. Irene was born to a noble Greek family of Athens, the Sarantapechos family. Irene of Athens is credited as Byzantine empress, Isaurian Dynasty, Pala D'oro, Venice. Irene of Athens Tuesday, January 1, 752 Irene of Athens is the most famous person named Irene. She was also known to have initiated the Second Council of Nicea. Irene then reigned alone as emperor (not empress) for five years. However, Irene broke off the engagement in 788, over her son's objections. Though this claim is not supported by the Menaion, the "Lives of Saints" by Nikodemos the Hagiorite, or any other related book of the Orthodox Church, some Western sources [2] still cite Irene as a saint of the Orthodox Church, based on the writings of the Bollandists. Irene was also known for her generous financial policies, which were especially friendly to monasteries. If you find our videos helpful you can support us by buying something from amazon. 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. Their son was born just a little This council, in contrast with the robber council of 754 in Hieria, was attended by the patriarchs or their representatives. Omissions? Updates? F. Halkin, Analecta Bollandiana, 106 (1988) 5-27; see also W.T. Irene of Athens was the first woman to be sole ruler (Autokrator) of the Byzantine empire. This letter became the beginning of the misconception that Irene is considered a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Upon the death of Constantine V in 775, Irene's husband Leo ascended to the throne as Leo IV. With Leo's death, his son became emperor as Constantine VI, but since he was only ten years old his mother Irene was installed with him as co-emperor, and she immediately reversed the iconoclastic policies of her husband. 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. Irene of Athens was one of the most ruthless, ambitious, and forceful women ever to hold a throne and, in her determination to prevent her son from reigning and … Then, through the use of a bride-show, Irene selected Maria of Amnia as Constantine's bride. Vita Irenes, 'La vie de l'impératrice Sainte Irène', ed. Anger at the demand prompted the themes (administrative divisions) of Asia Minor to open resistance in 790. This page was last edited on January 6, 2015, at 06:52. Irene of Athens was the wife of the Byzantine Emperor Leo IV and mother of Constantine VI, both strong iconoclasts. She was the wife of Leo IV. It is believed that she was born of a Greek noble family. Irene of Athens was one of the most ruthless, ambitious, and forceful women ever to hold a throne and, in her determination to prevent her son from reigning and her boldness in daring to become the first woman ever to hold the Roman throne, she ranks with Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt and Catherine the Great as a profound breaker with dynastic tradition. 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