Who's Who in Medieval History
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Irene of Athens was noted for:
Occupations and Role in Society:
Places of Residence and Influence:
About Irene of Athens:
Upon the death of her husband, Emperor Leo IV, Irene of Athens became regent for her 10-year-old son, Constantine VI. She successfully defended her position against numerous plots and dominated her son in the process.
Empress Irene was a strong proponent of the use of Icons in the Christian church, a practice that had been prohibited for 60 years. After violent opposition from Iconoclasts, Irene managed to arrange the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, at which the use of Icons was restored. For this and for her patronage of monasteries, Irene is considered a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
When her son grew older and tried to wrest his indepencence from his mother, Irene had him blinded and imprisoned. She then took the title of Emperor for herself, becoming the first woman to rule the empire. Irene was also rumored to have considered a marriage to Charlemagne, who visited Constantinople during her reign.
In 802 Irene was deposed and exiled to Prinkipo (now Büyükada) and then to Lesbos, where she died.
Irene of Athens Resources:
Irene of Athens on the Web
Irene Of Athens
A collection of imnages related to Irene is followed by a concise overview of her reign.