It is believed that she was born of a Greek noble family. She ruled jointly with her son, Constantine, after the death of her husband Leo. Irene of Athens was the first woman to be sole ruler (Autokrator) of the Byzantine empire. However, Irene broke off the engagement in 788, over her son's objections. She had Tarasius, one of her supporters, elected patriarch of Constantinople and then summoned a general church council on the subject. This letter became the beginning of the misconception that Irene is considered a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is believed that she was born of a Greek noble family. Although she was an orphan, her uncle, Constantine Sarantapechos, was a patrician and possibly strategos of the theme of Hellas. See Article History. Irene (c. 752 - 9 August 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. The council affirmed the principle of veneration of icons and declared iconoclasm a heresy. Irene of Athens is credited as Byzantine empress, Isaurian Dynasty, Pala D'oro, Venice. Leo, however, was a steadfast iconoclast who, according to tradition, found that Irene possessed icons and thereafter would no longer share their marriage bed. 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. Irene had taken a hands-off attitude with Constantine's handling of his marriage. Irene favoured the restoration of the use of icons, which had been prohibited in 730. In 802 a conspiracy of officials and generals deposed her and placed on the throne Nicephorus, the minister of finance. To blunt the threat from the half-brothers, she had them ordained as priests, since clergy could not rule. FAQs. She showed little interest in finance or diplomacy, but made her mark in the Orthodox Christian world by rejection of iconoclasm. In 798 she opened diplomatic relations with the Western emperor Charlemagne, and in 802 a marriage between her and Charlemagne was reportedly contemplated. 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. In the meantime, having taken Theodote, Irene's lady-in-waiting, as mistress, Constantine arranged that Theodote be crowned augusta, a title which Maria was not granted, and then married her. 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. By 792, the feud between Irene and her son had cooled and Irene's title as empress was confirmed. Information and translations of irene of athens in the most comprehensive dictionary definitions resource on the She was also known to have initiated the Second Council of Nicea. Constantine VI was proclaimed sole ruler and his mother banished from court. The marriage, however, was very unpopular with the Church, because its legality was seriously questioned. By this marriage they had two daughters, Euphrosyne and Irene. 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. 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. She gave birth to a son, Constantine, on January 14, 771. A female relative of Irene, Theophano was chosen in 807 by Empereor Nikephoros as the bride of his son Staurakios. 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. It is believed that she was born of a Greek noble family. Irene was born in Athens about the year 752. She gave birth to a son, Constantine, on January 14, 771. She was married by Constantine V, ruler of the Eastern Empire, to his son, the future Leo IV, in 769. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. 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). According to the contemporary Byzantine historian Theophanes, the scheme was frustrated by one of Irene’s favourites. They are considered the most important person in … Nikephoros was then crowned by Patriarch Tarasius in Hagia Sophia Cathedral. She arranged the convening of the Second Council of Nicea in 787 that restored the practice of veneration of icons. Irene was born c. 752 to the influential Sarantapechos family of Athens (hence the moniker); she was brought to Constantinople by Emperor Constantine V and married to his son Leo in 768. Definition of irene of athens in the Definitions.net dictionary. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). 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. She was brought to Constantinopleby Emperor Constantine Von November 1, 769, and was married to his son Leo IVon December 17. 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. Irene also had a nephew. Irene of Athensの意味や使い方 エイレーネー (東ローマ女帝)エイレーネー“アテナイア”(ギリシア語:Ἐιρήνη ἡ Ἀθηναία, Eirēnē hē Athēnaiā、752年 - 803年8月9日)は、東ローマ帝国イサウリ... - 約1171万語ある英和辞典・和英辞典。 An unnamed female relative was married to the Bulgar ruler Telerig in 776. Irene of Athens was the wife of the Byzantine Emperor Leo IV and mother of Constantine VI, both strong iconoclasts. 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. As Constantine approached maturity, he grew resentful of his mother’s controlling influence in the empire. Please consider supporting OrthodoxWiki. In 802 Irene was deposed and exiled to Prinkipo (now Büyükada) and then to Lesbos, where she died August 9, 803. Her feast day is August 9. Corrections? Biography Irene was born in 752 to the House of Sarantapechos, the daughter of Theophylaktos Sarantapechos, and she married Emperor Leo IV of Byzantium. 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