This article is of interest to the following WikiProjects: Her usurpation of the imperial throne created a theoretical justification for the coronation of Charlemagne. When she died she was turned into an icon and was an important character in Christianity. A well-born and highly educated court prelate, skilled in diplomacy, Tarasius was head of the imperial chancellery and de facto prime minister of the Empire. She had her name put first on imperial documents. A son was born of this union but, although the patriarch was willing to grant a dispensation for the marriage, this son was considered illegitimate by the monks and the Church at large, and probably would never have reigned even if he had not died in infancy. Name variations: Irene the Great; Eirene. Constantine blinded Nicephorus and another important man, then cut out the tongues of his other four uncles. Athens has been inhabited from Neolithic times, possibly from the end of the 4th millennium BC, or nearly 5,000 years. It is also possible that all Irene wanted to do was restore the icons to their rightful place in the church. Leo IV had sworn to continue his father's iconoclastic policy, but when he ascended the throne in 775, he seems to have tolerated the iconophiles. Frankish princess. Complete exact biopraphy of Irene of Athens from Historian personalities category updated and reviewed by autorized personel. Byzantium the Imperial Centuries AD 610–1071. In January 792, Irene was acclaimed co-emperor with Constantine, but his name came first on official documents once again. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982. Date of death : - Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988. Birthplace : Athens, Greek Empire Turtledove, Harry, trans. 22 Dec. 2020 . Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates. By 1412 BC, the settlement had become an important center of the Mycenaean civilization and the Acropolis was the site of a major Mycenaean fortress whose remains can be recognised from sections of the characteristic Cyclopean walls. Meanwhile, during the minority of her son, who was only ten when his father died, the empress contented herself with removing iconoclastic generals and other officers, and seeing to it that her husband's five brothers were one by one forced into monasteries to forestall any potential coups. Although she was an orphan, her uncle or cousin, Constantine Sarantapechos, was a patrician and was possibly the strategosof the theme of Hellas at the end of the 8th century. The army was demoralized and alienated by her conduct of affairs; the Arabs invaded Asia Minor as far as Ephesus and ravaged the frontier provinces until peace was obtained by the payment of a large tribute to the caliph, Harun al-Rashid. The soldiers broke up the council and departed. She was older, there was no pressing religious issue to pursue, and there was no clear heir to the throne. 771), emperor of Byzantium (r. 780–797); children: Euphrosyne (c. 790–c. About the time Irene of Athens was born, Constantine V had begun his persecution of the "image worshippers," torturing and martyring monks and nuns, and condoning acts of public humiliation by his armies. On October 31, 802, Nicephorus (I), the minister of public finance, seized his opportunity. Unfortunately, favorable as well as unfavorable accounts provide little insight to her reasoning or motives. Irene signed the Synod's decree with her own hand. Name variations: Maria of Armenia. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1952. In the spring of 783, she sent the troops east against some supposed Arab aggression, but when they were safely away she had her men order them to give up their weapons. It is not certain how clear this was to Irene and her court. . Irene of Athens, (Εἰρήνη ἡ Ἀθηναία) died on August 9, 803 AD. Many historians attribute this period of tolerance to Irene's influence. She was born about 752. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. Each of these women's stories is a great one, wrought with controversy and struggle, but Irene's story is one that is most commonly forgotten. Whether or not Irene and her family were supporters of the imperial policy, it is likely that her devotion to the images developed when she was young. Irene of Athens (c. 752–803)First woman to be sole ruler of the Byzantine empire who ruled for ten years, displaying firmness and intelligence, and summoned the council at Nicaea in 787, which formally revived the adoration of images and reunited the Eastern church with that of Rome. Although, in theory, the Byzantine Empire was the direct continuation of the Roman Empire of old and it was always recognized that there was but one Empire in the Christian world, the removal of Constantine VI from the throne in 797 and his replacement by his mother constituted a most disturbing turn of events. Athens is one of the oldest named cities in the world, having been continuously inhabited for perhaps 5,000 years. Her dealings with Charlemagne almost united the Eastern and Western empires and might have had a profound effect on the subsequent history of East and West relations. On October 11, 787, the Seventh Ecumenical Council was convened by the Patriarch Tarasios with 350 bishops in attendance. The emperor was not a king to be succeeded by his widow or his daughter. Encyclopedias almanacs transcripts and maps, Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1978. She was also known to have initiated the Second Council of Nicea. From this time forward, it seems Irene schemed against her son, never forgiving him for ousting her. This caused a great public outcry by the pious, and, in the next year, several prominent religious men broke from communion with Tarasios because he had sanctioned the affair. Meanwhile, Charlemagne's envoys were in the city and saw everything. Strong-willed and independent, capable of pursuing and holding power herself, Irene was extremely active in administering her own affairs. Irene of Athens, Byzantine basilissa, is comparable to Egyptian queen Hatshepsut, and Russian empress Catherine the Great. Hey there, I have discovered recently that Irene of Athenes, Empress of the Byzantine Empire from 797 to 802. Nationality : Ancient Greek Exactly three years later, however, in January 795, Constantine shocked public opinion by repudiating his empress-wife, placing her in a convent, and, on October 7, 796, entering into an irregular marriage with Theodote, one of her ladies-in-waiting. Ruthless and ambitious, she is widely suspected of having poisoned her husband after which she governed the Empire as regent and sole ruler for 22 years. In an elaborate charade, he lied about an attempted coup by the generals and told the palace guards that Irene had proclaimed him emperor in order to ward off the others. Her beauty alone seems to have gained her the marriage to Leo, son of the Emperor Constantine V Copronymus (740-75). Irene turned her attention to other matters. It could have been the age-old desire to reunite the empire. Reprint. Known as the Second Council of Nicaea or the Seventh Ecumenical Council, more than 300 bishops attended this conclave which lasted from September 13 to October 13, 787. Category : Historian personalities By 1412 BC, the settlement had become an important center of the Mycenaean civilization and the Acropolis was the site of a major Mycenaean fortress whose remains can be recognised from sections of the characteristic Cyclopean walls. THEODOSIUS (c. 347–395), Roman emperor (379–395). Her major accomplishment was that she restored the icons. In May, she fell ill and thought she would die. Irene was born in roughly 752 A.D. to a distinguished Athenian family. Whether it was because she was a murderess or, more likely, because she was a woman, the pope and other leaders of the Church did not consider appealing to Irene of Athens for judgment. She then made the army swear that it would not support her son as ruler as long as she lived. Flourished around 782; first wife of Constantine VI Porphyrogenitus (b. Irene was related to the noble Greek Sarantapechos family of Athens. Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Athens has been inhabited from Neolithic times, possibly from the end of the 4th millennium BC. [1] Each of these women's stories is a great one, wrought with controversy and struggle, but Irene's story is one that is most commonly forgotten. She was the first woman to be rule the Byzantine Empire. Perhaps she felt a closer connection would help her accomplish that goal. Irene of Athens has been listed as a level-5 vital article in an unknown topic. For, five years later, Constantine [would be] blinded by his own mother on a Saturday of the same month.". But Irene would not yield the reins. Charlemagne agreed. Kaiser Konstantin VI. In the middle of the eighth century, Athens was a hotbed of opposition to the policies of the Byzantine emperor Constantine V. For a mixture of political and religious reasons, his father Leo III had begun the policy of banning religious images (icons) of Christ, his disciples and saints, in favor of the symbolism of the cross. During 800 another great monarch became emperor in the west - Charlemagne. To the broad masses, however, especially the women, and to the monks who were drawn largely from the ranks of the common people, the line between the images and the sacred reality they were meant to represent was easily blurred. In the East, there seems to have been little problem accepting Irene as a full emperor. Empress Irene and the Silk Trade (752-803 CE). Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987. Constantine now fell in love with a serving woman named Theodota (c. 775-early 800s), but extramarital affairs were harshly condemned by the church. Irene could now play on negative opinion against Constantine and plot to depose him. Encyclopedia.com. Internal struggles were also weakening the army and the boundaries of the empire. Important Achievements: Created the Justinian Code wich is a set of laws that influence modern laws. Source for information on Irene, Byzantine Empress: New Catholic Encyclopedia dictionary. Empress Irene was born between 750 and 755 into a noble family of Athens. A much more complex, intellectual, and refined argument, however, was offered by the Syrian Christian philosopher Mansur, better known as St. John of Damascus, held by both the Catholic and Orthodox churches to have been the last of the Greek "Fathers of the Church." Despite the dissatisfaction with her rule, however, Irene had many friends, especially among the monks who adored her, and she was allowed to live out the rest of her life in dignified exile on the island of Lesbos where she died in 803. [1] Although she was an orphan, her uncle or cousin Constantine Sarantapechos was a patrician and possibly also a strategos ("general") of the theme of Hellas at the end of the eighth century. In 785, soon after his elevation, Tarasius invited Pope Hadrian to send delegates to a council, the purpose of which was to reverse the condemnation of the icons issued by the Council of 754. The first woman ever to hold the throne of the Roman Caesars in her own right, however illegally, the empress Irene was born to an obscure but noble Greek family of Athens. Regent of and co-emperor with Constantine VI (780–790); organized Seventh Ecumenical Council (Second Council of Nicaea, 787); deposed (790–792); reinstated as co-emperor with Constantine VI (792–797); was sole emperor (797–802); sought as wife by Charlemagne (800); overthrown and exiled (802). She was also known to have initiated the Second Council of Nicea. Influenced on legal history. In 783, the patriarch, Paul of Cyprus, abdicated and renounced his former vow against the icons. Irene of Athens, (Εἰρήνη ἡ Ἀθηναία) died on August 9, 803 AD. Athens has been inhabited from Neolithic times, possibly from the end of the 4th millennium BC, or nearly 5,000 years, according to books. Her zeal for the restoration of icons put an end to the most virulent phase of iconoclasm in the Byzantine empire and paved the way for the permanent acceptance of icons in the Orthodox Church. Hussey, J.M., ed. 771), emperor of Byzantium (r. 780–797). Athens lies 5 miles (8 km) from the Bay of Phaleron, an inlet of the Aegean (Aigaíon) Sea where Piraeus (Piraiévs), the port of Athens, is situated, in a mountain-girt arid basin divided north-south by a line of hills. There, on August 15, 797, he was blinded at his mother's orders, a frequently practiced maneuver that by Byzantine norms rendered a member of the imperial family unfit to reign. Athens has been inhabited from Neolithic times, possibly from the end of the fourth millennium BC, or over 5,000 years. But things had changed since she had first assumed power in 780. Enemies, posing as friends, persuaded her that her favorite eunuch intended to seize power for himself. ." 4: The Byzantine Empire. Constantine seems to have been distressed over this, since he was in love with Rotrude. Instead, with Leo's agreement, Charlemagne was asked to preside over the pope's hearing. The sweet-tempered Maria of Amnia, who grew up in an impoverished household, was the Byzantine Cinderella. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966. 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. But now Charlemagne proposed to marry her. She was brought to Constantinople by Emperor Constantine V on November 1, 768, and was married to his son, Leo IV, on December 17. When he died shortly thereafter, Irene had the opportunity to name a new patriarch, one who openly supported the veneration of icons, the learned man Tarasios. In this way, she became the first woman to sit upon the throne established by Augustus over eight centuries before and an all-male preserve until her time. Athens has been inhabited from Neolithic times, possibly from the end of the 4th millennium BC, or nearly 5,000 years. Constantine would die shortly after his mutilation, which was probably conducted in such a way as to achieve this result. Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA). 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. In the worst disaster since the days of Hannibal the Roman army and the emperor Valens were wiped o…, Theodosius I or Theodosius the Great, 346?–395, Roman emperor of the East (379–95) and emperor of the West (394–95), son of Theodosius, the general o…, Sigismund (1368-1437) was king of Hungary from 1385 to 1437, Holy Roman emperor from 1411 to 1437, and king of Bohemia from 1420 to 1437. Byzantine Empress Irene and Emperor Constantine VI. Irene was forging a link between East and West that could have far-reaching consequences for both halves of the Roman Empire. She was a member of the noble Greek Sarantapechos family, which had significant political influence in central mainland Greece. Constantine V died in 775, and Leo IV, known as the Khazar for his maternal heritage, became the emperor, and Irene the empress consort. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. But part of the army had gone to Cyprus to stave off an Arab attack, and when it returned it helped Constantine to power. By 1412 BC, the settlement had become an important center of the Mycenaean civilization and the Acropolis was the site of a major Mycenaean fortress whose remains can be recognised from sections of the characteristic Cyclopean walls. The Athens Urban Area (Greater Athens and Greater Piraeus) extends beyond its administrative municipal city limits, with a population of 3,090,508 (in 2011) over an area of 412 km2 (159 sq mi). The city of Athens ( Ancient Greek : Ἀθῆναι, Athênai, ; Modern Greek : Ath'nai, Greek pronunciation: ) during the classical period of Ancient Greece (508-322 BC) was the major urban center of the notable polis ( city-state ) of the same name, located in Attica, Greece, leading the Delian League in the Peloponnesian War against Sparta and the Peloponnesian League. Speck, Paul. The overthrow of Constantine VI and seizure of the throne by Irene had grave repercussions that indirectly altered the history of the Western world. First woman to be sole ruler of the Byzantine empire who ruled for ten years, displaying firmness and intelligence, and summoned the council at Nicaea in 787, which formally revived the adoration of images and reunited the Eastern church with that of Rome. IRENE, BYZANTINE EMPRESS Coregnant 780–797, sole ruler from 797 to Oct. 31, 802; b. Athens, c. 752; d. Lesbos, Aug. 9, 803. Complete exact biopraphy of Irene of Athens from Historian personalities category updated and reviewed by autorized personel. Called “Irene of Athens” in honor of her birthplace, Irene is mainly remembered for two dramatic events. 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. Although married to Leo IV, "the Khazar," one of the more moderate iconoclastic emperors, Irene herself strongly supported the veneration of images. In dynastic matters, Irene moved as shrewdly as she had done in ecclesiastical affairs. When Constantine formed a conspiracy to oust his mother, Irene learned of the plot and punished all involved. In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Rather, he was the holder of a composite of offices, titles, and positions, including that of commander in chief of the army, all of which had been traditionally held only by men. https://www.encyclopedia.com/women/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/irene-athens-c-752-803, "Irene of Athens (c. 752–803) 840, who married Byzantine emperor Michael II of Amorion). She was married by Constantine V, ruler of the Eastern Empire, to his son, the future Leo IV, in 769. She replaced the generals with her favorites, who were also iconophiles, and started the process whereby she slowly lost the support of the army. "Alexius was not yet, or very slightly,…, Vespasian Jenkins, Romilly. Irene of Athens. Fearing her son's growing independence, Irene pressed too far when she demanded that her own name precede that of his in all public documents. Soon, fearing popular pressure to bring back the beloved Irene, Nicephorus exiled. The first woman ever to hold the throne of the Roman Caesars in her own right, she is also known as Irene Sarantapechaina and was a Byzantine Empress from 797 to 802. In May, she again summoned the bishops to Nicaea. The council was immediately Upon request guests love our private guided tours in Athens. Vespasian Everyone knew that she called the shots. Therefore, in January 795, he forced Maria to become a nun. Although she was an orphan, her uncle or cousin Constantine Sarantapechos was a patrician and possibly also a strategos ("general") of the theme of Hellas at the end of the eighth century. For the first three years of his reign, the abandoned monasteries and nunneries began to fill again, and iconophile monks held high positions in the court. "Irene of Athens (c. 752–803) Laws protected women and slaves. Irene managed the council in absentia but when it was clear that her campaign for the restoration of iconolatry had been successful, the attending prelates were brought to Constantinople for the eighth and last session which was held in the capital. The Synod did bring the Eastern and Western churches closer together, but doctrinal differences remained and ultimately split the churches apart in the next century. In any case, the rupture of the proposed union does not appear to have overly disturbed the empress, who, increasingly ambitious, had good reason not to want a daughter-in-law of such eminent rank. Constantine ruled as Autokrator for just over a year before he called Irene back. She was chosen to be the wife of Constantine VI by winning a beauty contest held by Irene of Athens . Irene was also known for her generous financial policies, which were especially friendly to monasteries. In September 780, Irene was made regent and co-emperor with her son Constantine VI who was not yet ten years old. Empress Irene of Athens was the first female ruler of the Byzantine Empire. Many historians do not consider her a good empress but she was unique. A After her death, she became a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Synod restored the icons and renounced those who had practiced iconoclasm. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Nevertheless, in the final year of his reign, Leo began persecuting iconophiles again and, some say, even locked Irene out of their bedroom because she refused to give up some icons she had hidden under her pillow. The Roman Empire was governed by an autocracy (government by one person) centered on the position of the emperor. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html. Date of birth : - In 786, however, Charlemagne repudiated this brilliant alliance for reasons that are not clear but which probably concerned the council convened at Nicaea that year without his consultation and his own iconoclast resentment of Irene's well-known iconophile views. Three years later, the emperor Leo III, never an enemy of images before, suddenly destroyed a major icon and issued an edict against their veneration in 730. When Irene recovered, the eunuch convinced her that he had no such intention. © 2019 Encyclopedia.com | All rights reserved. Since a woman could not legally hold any of these positions (least of all that of commander of the army), the idea of a female emperor was a contradiction in terms. 2nd ed. Another complication is that Irene may have been given the name Irene only when she married, and Irene means "peace.". Irene reinstalled her advisors, who had been exiled or silenced by Constantine. The collapse of Byzantine rule in Rome left the pope free of imperial influence but further alienated the center of the Church from the center of the Empire. 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. In 801, Irene waived taxes and reduced import and export duties, which won her great support from the people. Officially, Irene may have been a regent for her son the Emperor, but unofficially? Why Irene had sought a closer connection between East and West is an even tougher question to answer. The biblical injunction and the excesses of veneration observed among the common people, already cited, were two major ones but not the least were the scorn of the Muslims (and Jews) who accused the Byzantines of idolatry, the hostility of the Monophysite Christians of Egypt and Syria who emphasized the unity of the divine—and hence undepictable—nature of Christ, and the hostility of the army with its vast number of Armenian officers and common soldiers whose national church also rejected such holy pictures. Eventually, he compelled her to withdraw to a nunnery. In August of the same year, he made Theodota his wife with the coerced blessing of the patriarch. Captured as he attempted to reach the East, where loyal troops might be secured, he was brought to the palace to the Porphyry Chamber, where he had been born but 27 years before. And when it was accomplished, she had canceled the engagement with Rotrude. . In more far-reaching matters, whenever icons came under attack in the future, those in favor of their use had all the carefully thought out and well-formulated arguments of Nicaea II at their disposal. Although she was an orphan, her uncle or cousin, Constantine Sarantapechos, was a patrician and was possibly the strategos of the theme of Hellas at the end of the 8th century. In planning their restoration of icon-worship in the Empire, Irene and her advisors moved with caution, shrewdly awaiting the death of the iconoclastic Paul IV, patriarch of the Imperial Church, before appointing as his replacement the learned Tarasius (784-806). But in Constantinople several men were angling for a chance to seize the throne for themselves or their relatives. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list. At the end of the deliberations, iconolatry was reestablished, iconoclasts were anathematized, and Constantine VI and his mother were hailed as the new "Constantine and Helena," in reference to the first Christian Roman Emperor and his pious mother. Perhaps she was taking cues from Marcy from Peanuts, who called Peppermint Patty "Sir Noted for her liberality, her freeing of prisoners and, above all, for her convening of the Second Council of Nicaea, and for her efforts to restore the veneration of sacred images, Irene was popular among the people despite the irregularity of her conduct of the affairs of state. In this way, she changed the course of European history and left a recognizable seal upon it for a millennium after her death. Leo's policy initiated the first wave of iconoclasm in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and it met with strong resistance in Irene's hometown, which tried to break away from the empire along with the rest of Greece. This act made Charlemagne an equal with the Byzantine emperor. With Irene on the throne, whatever the circumstances that brought her there, the Pope could legitimately consider the Roman throne to be legally vacant. Much like Empress Theodora, Empress Irene was not born into royalty – it was the beauty of the young orphan that caught the eye of Emperor Constantine V. Emperor Constantine brought Irene to Constantinople to marry his son (and heir to the Byzantine Empire), Leo. ancient Greece Athens. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. "Irene of Athens (c. 752–803) Whether it was because she was a murderess or, more likely, because she was a woman, the pope and other leaders of the Church did not consider appealing to Irene of Athens for judgment. Though the monks were furious with Constantine for what they considered his sinful behavior and feared anything that might weaken the authority of the Church which was the basis for their own power, Irene appears to have supported her son's marital escapade precisely to create a reason for removing him from the throne. Born around 778; died after 839; daughter of Charles I also known as Charlemagne (742–814), king of the Franks (r. 768–814), Holy Roman emperor (r. 800–814), and Hildegarde of Swabia (c. 757–783); sister of Gisella of Chelles (781–814); married Count Rorico, around 800; children: Louis (b. around 800), abbott of St. Denis. Still, the army remained a problem, and the generals were ready to capitalize on it. Upon learning of this, the troops of the Armeniac theme (military province) rebelled, secured the liberation of the emperor, and excluded Irene and her entourage of eunuch supporters from the palace. The cross signified the empire's strength and prosperity since the time of Constantine the Great. Called “Irene of Athens” in honor of her birthplace, Irene is mainly remembered for two dramatic events. Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. Once again, Leo IV's brothers conspired for a chance at the throne; once again, they were thwarted. her even further, to Lesbos where she was imprisoned, allowed no visitors, and forced to support herself by spinning. In her first years, she put down a conspiracy by her brothers-in-law and replaced some rebellious generals who were strong supporters of Leo's and Constantine's later iconoclasm. This, at least, is the account of later historians who looked favorably upon the use of icons. She then replaced them with Bithynian troops more favorable to her views. Irene consented to this marriage, which accorded well with her ambitions and which would legalize her position, but her fall prevented its conclusion. If you can improve it, please do. Pronunciation: EYE-REE-nee. Being now 17 years old, he felt he should begin to assume more of the imperial duties. Copperplate engraving from Abraham Bogaert’s De Roomsche Monarchy, The Roman Monarchy, Francois Salma, Utrecht, 1697. Widely regarded as holy in and of themselves, the icons gradually began to take the place of the idols that Christianity had overthrown. As the chronicler Theophanes represents it, Nicephorus lied his way through several situations in the next few days and fooled everyone into making him emperor. Iconoclasm was especially prevalent in the eastern parts of the Empire; iconophilism in the West. The first attempt by Irene to convoke the council occurred in Constantinople on May 31, 786, when a conclave attended by the papal delegates was convened in the Church of the Holy Apostles. 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