Irene was born in Athens about the year 752. Nikephoros was then crowned by Patriarch Tarasius in Hagia Sophia Cathedral. Irene had taken a hands-off attitude with Constantine's handling of his marriage. Irene of Athens (c.752-30 September 806), also known as Irene Sarantapechos, was the Byzantine Empress regnant from 797 to 806. Irene was born to a noble Greek family of Athens, the Sarantapechos family. 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. Upon the death of Constantine V in 775, Irene's husband Leo ascended to the throne as Leo IV. When Leo died in 780, she became regent for her nine-year-old son. 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. A female relative of Irene, Theophano was chosen in 807 by Empereor Nikephoros as the bride of his son Staurakios. Meaning of irene of athens. This came at a critical point in history, when the eastern empire was controlled by iconoclasts. In 798 she opened diplomatic relations with the Western emperor Charlemagne, and in 802 a marriage between her and Charlemagne was reportedly contemplated. 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. From overcoming oppression, to breaking rules, to reimagining the world or waging a rebellion, these women of history have a story to tell. Irene of Athens is credited as Byzantine empress, Isaurian Dynasty, Pala D'oro, Venice. Events came to a head when emissaries from Charlemagne and Pope Leo arrived in Constantinople with a proposal of marriage between Irene and Charlemagne. An unnamed female relative was married to the Bulgar ruler Telerig in 776. The marriage, however, was very unpopular with the Church, because its legality was seriously questioned. 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. See Article History. She gave birth to a son, Constantine, on January 14, 771. Her family background is not known. 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 Irene's place in the Orthodox Christian church is that of a strong defender of the veneration of images. Irene favoured the restoration of the use of icons, which had been prohibited in 730. 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. 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. Then, through the use of a bride-show, Irene selected Maria of Amnia as Constantine's bride. Empress Irene of Athens was the first female ruler of the Byzantine Empire. According to the contemporary Byzantine historian Theophanes, the scheme was frustrated by one of Irene’s favourites. She was married by Constantine V, ruler of the Eastern Empire, to his son, the future Leo IV, in 769. Irene was born in Athens, sometime between 750-755. Civilization VI Wiki is a Fandom Gaming Community. By this marriage they had two daughters, Euphrosyne and Irene. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. It is believed that she was born of a Greek noble family. F. Halkin, Analecta Bollandiana, 106 (1988) 5-27; see also W.T. She is most remembered for her marriage to Charlemagne in 803, unifying the Franks and the Byzantines. 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 acceded to the change of events and only asked to continue to live as a private citizen in her palace. Irene was born in Athens about the year 752. In January 792, however, Irene was allowed to return to court and even to resume her position as co-ruler. 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 a conspiracy of officials and generals deposed her and placed on the throne Nicephorus, the minister of finance. FAQs. Irene’s zeal in restoring icons and her patronage of monasteries ensured her a place among the saints of the Greek Orthodox Church. 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. By 792, the feud between Irene and her son had cooled and Irene's title as empress was confirmed. Portraits [] 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. 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." Irene was related to the noble Greek Sarantapechos family of Athens. 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