[1], On 14 January 771, Irene gave birth to a son, the future Constantine VI, who was named after his grandfather, Irene's father-in-law, Constantine V.[2] When Constantine V died in September 775, Leo IV ascended to the throne at the age of twenty-five, with Irene as his empress consort. Constantine would die shortly after his mutilation, which was probably conducted in such a way as to achieve this result. University of Pennsylvania, 1982.

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.

Alexander, Archibald, and André Lagarde, Joseph Turmel.
The ecclesiastical gathering was then reconvened in the nearby city of Nicaea, where the First Ecumenical Council had been held nearly 500 years before.

Widely regarded as holy in and of themselves, the icons gradually began to take the place of the idols that Christianity had overthrown.

"Iconoclasm and Imperial Rule 717-842," in Cambridge Medieval History, Vol. Charlemagne invaded Italy early on in his reign, annexing the Lombard kingdom of Italy.

This was, however, one more reason that Constantine lost support. Their daughter Euphrosyne, also living at the nunnery, married Michael II in 823 against Maria’s wishes. Liz James, "Men, Women, Eunuchs: Gender, Sex, and Power" in "A Social History of Byzantium" (J. Haldon, ed.) Irene of Athens (c.752-30 September 806), also known as Irene Sarantapechos, was the Byzantine Empress regnant from 797 to 806.

While she had no great need for wealth herself (she was an empress after all), she certainly helped make others in Byzantium quite rich. Irene was born to a noble Greek family of Athens, the Sarantapechos family.Although she was an orphan, her uncle, Constantine Sarantapechos, was a patrician and possibly strategos of the theme of Hellas.

[5] She replaced all of them with dignitaries who were loyal to her.

Although it was said of Irene that she had the mind of a man, she was not a competent ruler and much of her reign was dominated by the struggle between her favorite eunuchs. University of Wisconsin, 1952. While the coup that had cast Constantine from the throne, though illegal, was not without precedent, the placing of a woman on the imperial throne was a thing unheard of in Roman history since the empire had been founded in the first century b.c.

She was exiled, first to the island of Prinkipo (now Büyükada) and then to Lesbos. As early as 782, she had arranged for her son, then only 12, to marry Rotrud, daughter of Charlemagne, king of the Franks (786-814), the greatest Western ruler of the age, and had a tutor sent to his capital at Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen) to teach the German princess Greek and whatever else she might need to know about her future homeland, before her arrival. 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. On the side of the iconophiles (image-lovers) or iconodules (image-adorers) were the papacy (with suitable cautions), the monks, and the female population. [1] It is unclear why she was selected as the bride for the young Leo IV.

The Pope had aligned himself with Irene in her work to restore veneration of images, but he could not support a woman as ruler. IV, The Byzantine Empire, Part I: Byzantium and its Neighbors.

Her feast day is August 9. Corrections? Constantine tried to flee but was captured and returned to Constantinople, where, on the orders of Irene, he was blinded by his eyes being gouged out. It had become so extreme in the East—to the point of bordering on idolatry—that a reaction developed against the practice. Realizing that her fall was final, Irene had the intelligence to step aside gracefully thereby perhaps saving herself from physical harm. Anger at the demand prompted the themes (administrative divisions) of Asia Minor to open resistance in 790.
Omissions? 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. In Rise and Fall, grant 1 Governor Title or recruit a new Governor. Biography . History of the Byzantine Empire 324-1453. Irene of Athens (Greek: Εἰρήνη ἡ Ἀθηναία, Eirénē ē Athēnaía; c. 752 – 9 August 803), surnamed Sarantapechaina (Σαρανταπήχαινα), was Byzantine empress consort by marriage to Emperor Leo IV from 775 to 780, regent during the minority of her son Constantine VI from 780 until 790, co-regent from 792 until 797, and finally sole ruler and first empress regnant of the Byzantine Empire from 797 to 802. Icon In 802 a conspiracy of officials and generals deposed her and placed on the throne Nicephorus, the minister of finance. Translated by H. Turtledove. Encyclopedia of World Biography on Irene of Athens. 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.

Irene of Athens

In the early 790s, several attempted revolts tried to proclaim him as sole ruler which was successful. A female relative of Irene, Theophano, was chosen in 807 by Emperor Nikephoros I as the bride of his son and heir Staurakios. One was with his five younger half-brothers, who challenged him for the throne. Irene apparently attempted to arrange a marriage between herself and Charlemagne, but the scheme failed when she lost power. Some contemporaries and later scholars suspected Irene of poisoning her husband. [5] Nonetheless, she maintains that it is possible that Irene may have been trying to fill the palace with supporters of iconophilism, which may have triggered Leo IV's crackdown. Announcing our NEW encyclopedia for Kids! [1] Constantine Sarantapechos's son Theophylact was a spatharios and is mentioned as having been involved in suppressing a revolt in 799. Random House, 1966.

Irene of Athens Biography: Irene came from a noble family in Athens. 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. The chief argument against the creation of images— that the practice violated the second commandment—was easily rejected by iconophiles on the grounds that the biblical injunction referred to images of false gods—idols—and that having revealed himself in the person of Christ and having bestowed His sanctity upon the Virgin and all His saints, the representation of real and tangible personages was valid.

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). Constantine, son of Leo and Irene, was only nine years old at his father’s death, so Irene became his regent, along with a minister named Staurakios. [5], As early as 781, Irene began to seek a closer relationship with the Carolingian dynasty and the Papacy in Rome. [citation needed], Irene next had to subdue a rebellion led by Elpidius, the strategos of Sicily. [5] Lynda Garland, a historian of the Byzantine Empire, states that this story too closely resembles a different story told about the later empress Theodora, wife of Theophilos, to be historically true. She accepted her fall from power, perhaps to save her life, and was exiled to Lesbos. Grants 1 free copy of the Luxury resource on this tile to your Capital city and increases Trade Route capacity by 1. In any case, Charlemagne, greatest of the Frankish kings and master of a realm that stretched from northern Spain to Poland encompassing France, Germany, Northern Italy, and all Central Europe, was a force to be reckoned with. This time, she was replaced on the throne by Nikephoros, a finance minister. Theodote and Constantine had two sons; one was born in 796 and died in May of 797. She was a member of the noble Greek Sarantapechos family, which had significant political influence in central mainland Greece.

Whether he actually desired a coronation at all, remains controversial – his biographer Einhard related that Charlemagne had been surprised by the Pope – but the Eastern Empire felt its role as the sole Roman Empire threatened and began to emphasize its superiority and its Roman identity.

[15] Such claims are not supported by the Menaion (the official liturgical book providing the propers of the saints of the Orthodox Church), the "Lives of Saints" by Nikodemos the Hagiorite, or any other relevant book of the Orthodox Church. Known for: sole Byzantine emperor, 797 – 802; her rule gave the Pope the excuse to recognize Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor; convened the 7th Ecumenical Council (2nd Council of Nicaea), restoring icon veneration in the Byzantine Empire, Occupation: empress consort, regent and co-ruler with her son, ruler in her own rightDates: lived about 752 – August 9, 803, ruled as co-regent 780 – 797, ruled in her own right 797 – October 31, 802Also known as Empress Irene, Eirene (Greek). 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. In support of Charlemagne's coronation, some argued that the Imperial position was actually vacant, deeming a woman unfit to be Emperor; however, Charlemagne made no claim to the Eastern Roman Empire.

By 780, Leo had reversed his position and was again supportive of the iconoclasts.

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. 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. 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."

la:Irene Atheniensis To these strains were added the hostilities engendered by the iconoclastic controversy which pitted the icon-favoring popes against the iconoclastic emperors for most of the eighth century. Irene's alleged unprecedented status as a female ruler of the Roman Empire led Pope Leo III to proclaim Charlemagne emperor of the Holy Roman Empire on Christmas Day of 800 under the pretext that a woman could not rule and so the throne of the Roman Empire was actually vacant. Leo, however, was a steadfast iconoclastwho, according to tradition, found that Irene possessed icons and thereafter would no longer … Byzantium: the Imperial Centuries a.d. 610-1071. Irene, being an Athenian, was not only a woman but a "westerner" by birth and a devotee of the veneration of the icons who chose to espouse the iconophile cause. When the patriarch of Constantinople, Germanus, showed a lack of sympathy for the emperor's policy, he was deposed the same year, and iconoclasm was firmly pursued despite fierce opposition from the monks.

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