irene of athens facts

He was content to let her continue to reign. Irene sent a summons for the Sicilian governor Elpidios, but his loyal citizens stood by his side and refused to give him up. Unfortunately for Irene, her method to retain rule didn’t work too well because the army liked Constantine way more than Irene. After this kerfuffle, Leo refused to sleep with his wife. Want to tell us to write facts on a topic? Leo IV died on 8 September 780 and Irene became regent for their nine-year-old son Constantine VI. History of the Byzantine Empire 324-1453. Irene may have imagined that she could keep Constantine in her shadow forever and continue to reign in his place. Ironically, she chose her through a bride show (the same unromantic chattel-y way that Irene herself was allegedly chosen for Leo IV). Irene had a strong influence on her man, but she couldn’t get too comfortable: It didn’t last. An East Roman (Byzantine) empress, Irene of Athens (752-803) convened the Seventh Ecumenical Council and restored the veneration of icons in the Byzantine Empire. But as we’ll see, even this wouldn’t deter them forever. Irene of Athens Tuesday, January 1, 752 Irene of Athens is the most famous person named Irene. Once that happened, Irene could appoint a new patriarch, who’d support her beliefs. In 788, she arranged for Constantine to marry a certain Maria of Amnia, the daughter of a well-to-do but otherwise obscure family of Paphlagonia (supposedly as the result of a beauty contest held to select the bride). With them gone, Irene replaced them with a force that was more sympathetic to her cause and called another meeting with the Papal delegates. Empress Irene of Athens was the first female ruler of the Byzantine Empire. 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. As though that wasn’t bad enough, the army didn’t accept Irene as their leader. Iconoclasm runs rampant but was the hallmark of the era. Since he was technically single, Constantine didn’t imagine there would be a backlash to this decision. In January 771 Irene gave birth to a son, the goal of all queens and empresses of the time. Lykavittos Hill is the highest point in Athens, rising 277 meters (910 feet) above the city. Bookworm, word-enthusiast, and struggling writer. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. The emperor was not a king to be succeeded by his widow or his daughter. The Slavic invasions of Eastern Europe which cut Constantinople from land contact with Rome were followed by the Arab domination of the Mediterranean that made contact by sea increasingly difficult, as well. However, Irene’s ascent to Empress wasn’t without complications. 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." The first woman ever to hold the throne of the Roman Caesars in her own right, however illegally, the empress Irene was born to … Side note: Apparently the ancient world had like five names total. The blindness and humiliation affected him so badly that he perished soon after the incident. The simplest blamed his demise on poor health and stress (hey, being Emperor isn’t easy). Athens is one of the oldest named cities in the world, having been continuously inhabited for perhaps 5,000 years. It’s simple: She was hot. Irene came to power as regent for her son (780) in the midst of the iconoclastic controversy which wracked the However, if you know Irene, you know that she didn’t support the young couple out of the goodness of her heart. She signed royal documents using the title of “Emperor” for herself. With Irene on the throne, whatever the circumstances that brought her there, the Pope could legitimately consider the Roman throne to be legally vacant. She even had a town named after her: Irenoupolis. To curry favor with the masses, Irene reduced some taxes, especially in the capital, and abolished others, moves that were to prove ruinous coupled with the ravages experienced during the Arab invasion. It had become so extreme in the East—to the point of bordering on idolatry—that a reaction developed against the practice. Oh, and there was also the issue of Irene, y’know, forcing him to dump his girlfriend Rotrude. University of Wisconsin, 1952. Please reach out to us to let us know what you’re interested in reading. Perhaps she was taking cues from Marcy from Peanuts, who called Peppermint Patty "Sir Empress Irene of Athens Mikri Metropolis, a byzantine estate. Perhaps most important of all, Irene's usurpation of the throne provided the ideological justification for the coronation of Charlemagne the Great as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, an institution that was to survive and to trouble Europe until laid to rest by Napoleon. Irene struck back, vehemently denying that she had put them there. When Constantine realized that his mother was about to lash out, he fled the palace, only to realize that he couldn’t go far. Unfortunately for Leo’s Evil Brother-In-Law #1, he didn’t learn his lesson. Irene was related to the noble Greek Sarantapechos family of Athens. Jenkins, Romilly. And yet, he got pretty darn close. 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.. An uneasy truce was struck between mother and son, according to which Irene could retain her title of “co-ruler,” but gave her little more authority than that of a figurehead. In practice, however, it was a complete disaster. Following the deposition of the Byzantine empress Irene of Athens, the throne of the Byzantine Empire passed to a relatively short-lived dynasty, the Nikephorian dynasty, named after its founder, Nikephoros I.The empire was in a weaker and more precarious position than it had been for a long time and its finances were problematic. [1] The origin myth explaining how Athens acquired this name through the legendary contest between Poseidon and Athena was described by Herodotus, [2] Apollodorus, [3] Ovid, Plutarch, [4] Pausanias and others. University of Pennsylvania, 1982. Empress Irene was related to the noble Athenian Sarantapechos family. Of course, that plan went south. Tragically for Constantine, he wasn’t really the most confidence-inducing emperor of all time. Biography. This time, they tried to take over Irene’s power but of course Irene discovered their plot and thwarted their plans. "Iconoclasm and Imperial Rule 717-842," in Cambridge Medieval History, Vol. On the side of the iconoclasts were also found certain of the Isaurian (actually Syrian) emperors, and, it would appear, the urban mob. At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. To add insult to injury, she had them serve mass at the Hagia Sophia on Christmas, so everyone would know of their change in status! At the age of twenty, Irene consecrated her virginity by vow to Christ. Realizing that her fall was final, Irene had the intelligence to step aside gracefully thereby perhaps saving herself from physical harm. Key Events in French History. Apparently, Leo discovered some sacred images beneath Irene’s pillow. Constantine exiled Maria to a convent and then divorced her later on. From 797 to 802 CE she ruled as emperor in her own right, the first woman to do so in Byzantine history. Spoiler: Irene’s love life would get even weirder as the years went on. But the happy days didn’t last very long. In the short run, there is no question that the Byzantine government appreciated the support of the monks in favor of iconolatry and, just as they restored the icons, Constantine VI and Irene reversed the policies of Constantine V and Leo III secularizing the enormous monastic estates and limiting the number of monks in the capital. It all goes back to our girl Irene. 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. He passed when the child was just four and with his demise, his son Leo officially became the Emperor. Constantine, son of Leo and Irene, was only nine years old at his father’s death, so Irene … No matter her motivation, man oh man, this was a bad idea. Thereafter, until its extinction by Napoleon in 1806, the term "Roman Empire" was used throughout Western Europe to refer to the holdings of the Holy Roman Emperor, whereas, for as long as it lasted (i.e., until the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453), Europeans would refer to the Byzantine state—to the dismay and outrage of its rulers—as the "Empire of the Greeks.". Mother and son were already clashing on certain ideas (Irene loved icons; Constantine hated them). It sounded like a solid plan, but Irene shocked everyone (and puzzled historians forever after) with her next action. WI: Irene of Athens secures a marriage alliance with Charlemagne Theophanes the Confessor claims that after Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne Holy Roman Emperor, Byzantine Empress Irene of Athens attempted to secure a marriage alliance with him. Luckily for Irene, though, Leo just so happened to drop dead suspiciously soon after she fell out of favor with her husband. Buckle up, y’all. Charlemagne Picture Gallery. He blinded one of his uncles, Nikephoros, and slit the tongues of the others. Since Irene didn’t have any siblings, she must have had quite a lonely childhood being shuttled from one house to another. She Suffered A Tragedy Early On She made sure that coins had both herself as well as her son on them, with her image on the obverse (the “heads” side of the coin). Her usurpation of the imperial throne created a theoretical justification for the coronation of Charlemagne. Her name was Theodote, and she was Constantine’s mistress before he threw caution to the winds and decided to marry her. After all, Irene was smart—and trying to hide things from your husband by putting them in the bed you share is a really dumb idea. Irene’s army was no match for the Abbasids and after some days of fighting, her men had to surrender. The Abassids, who we’ve already met, also gave her grief, forcing her to agree to more humiliating terms after their first truce ended. Constantine tied the knot with Maria of Amnia, his mama’s choice, but rebelled by making zero effort to make the marriage work. Rumors were circulated claiming that Leo IV had died of a fever after putting on the jeweled crown that had been dedicated by either Maurice (ruled 582 – 602) or Heraclius (ruled 610 – 641). Irene realized that she was finally without any options, and there was no way she would be able to continue her rule. Constantine had to go, and Irene was willing to execute him. Factinate is a fact website that is dedicated to finding and sharing fun facts about science, history, animals, films, people, and much more. Irene made an ambitious match for her son with Charlemagne’s daughter, Rotrude. My mom never told me how her best friend died. She got to work coming up with a brand new plan. 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. Irene began to realize that he might not be content playing second fiddle for too much longer. The overthrow of Constantine VI and seizure of the throne by Irene had grave repercussions that indirectly altered 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. 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. The clergy may have reluctantly accepted Constantine VI’s divorce and subsequent marriage, but they just couldn’t stomach the idea of having a woman on the throne after his passing. All Rights Reserved. During her lacklustre reign, Irene ruthlessly schemed and plotted to keep the throne she would lose and regain three times, but she is chiefly … Irene probably didn’t think her mama’s boy son would ever completely reject one of her orders. It is located in Central Greece in the southern part of the region of Attica. 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. 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. But…why? 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. Her beauty alone seems to have gained her the marriage to Leo, son of the Emperor Constantine V Copronymus (740-75). Just like last time, Irene discovered his plot and surprise, surprise, was none too pleased! In 802, Irene was finally overthrown by a palace coup led by Nicephorus, her own minister of finance. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Husbands hiding things from wives, mothers from children, and generation from generation. He told Irene he’d let her live in her palace if she disclosed the location of the imperial treasure. Irene was born in Athens, sometime between 750-755. Their Zodiac sign is ♑Capricorn.They are considered the most important person in history born with the first name of Irene. She said that someone was framing her, which was a fair point. Irene was the sister of Pope Saint Damasus I (c. 304-384). Naturally, this did not sit well with many people, including several contenders to Irene’s throne. She retaliated by seizing his family, whom he had left in Constantinople. The most scandalous theory is that Irene saw the tide was turning against her. Iconoclasm was especially prevalent in the eastern parts of the Empire; iconophilism in the West. 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. 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. But we all know what happens when you smother things: They become even more desperate for independence…. Here’s the deal: Irene was still holding onto power at this point. By this point, Irene’s son (remember, the real emperor) was getting older and craving independence. 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. There was just one problem: The threat didn’t exist. Random House, 1966. Constantine would die shortly after his mutilation, which was probably conducted in such a way as to achieve this result. Madame de Pompadour didn't just share King Louis XV's bed, she also shared his power. But after a couple years, she pulled the plug on the engagement, much to the boy’s distress. If this is how Leo and Irene’s meet-ugly went down, it was definitely an unorthodox method for choosing a royal bride. Even though it sounds like small change to us, this disagreement was a major problem. Though this Nikephorus shared his name, this one actually succeeded. It was, in other words, Irene’s rock bottom. 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. Once Leo was out of the picture, his nine-year-old son inherited the title. 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. Please let us know if a fact we’ve published is inaccurate (or even if you just suspect it’s inaccurate) by reaching out to us at contribute@factinate.com. Translated by H. Turtledove. She was born into a noble family and was brought to Constantinople by Emperor Constantine V in 769 AD to marry his son, Leo IV. Seriously, these idiots are back AGAIN and they’re still trying to get Irene and her family off the throne. Empire for a century (726-87, 815-43). Some historians think that Irene ended things because she was a classic overbearing mom who didn’t want to share Constantine with anyone else. But this wasn’t going to be a quick fix, so Irene started drawing up a clever plan. Some sources claim that Irene suggested a vicious punishment: Under her guidance, Leo sentenced his own relatives to exile. We don’t know much about her... 2. Irene of Athens. Powerful Facts About Empress Irene, The Byzantine Rebel 1. The name of Athens, connected to the name of its patron goddess Athena, originates from an earlier Pre-Greek language. Rutgers University Press, 1957. Tell a friend. Everyone knew that she called the shots. While she definitely came from an honorable family, many other hopefuls were better suited to the title. Leo’s half brothers were nothing if not persistent. Even after Irene put Nikephoros in his place, he colluded with the Sicilian governor to overthrow Irene and replace her as her son’s regent. She thought submitting them to persecution and imprisonment would force Elpidios to surrender. Do you question the accuracy of a fact you just read? Brace yourself: We’re unveiling the story of Irene’s spectacular rise to power and her chilling fall from grace. To keep the people on her side, she waived taxes and lowered duties. A plot was then hatched to remove Irene from power and have her banished to Sicily, but she learned of this in time and had her son confined in the palace, demanding a direct oath of allegiance to herself from the military. A number of Leo’s own ex-courtiers faced these drastic treatments. He refused to back down, forcing Irene to send her men to capture him. And did everything work out for Irene after that? Irene’s incredible beauty caught Leo’s eye—but at the same time, her good looks had a dark side too. With this, Irene finally achieve her long-time goal—only for everything to crumble around her. 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. Canons of the Second Council of Nicaea. 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. They invaded the event and terrified the delegates into fleeing. The Roman and Byzantine eras were grounded in discovery, innovation and great enlightenment. Nikephoros was a nasty piece of work. She felt her enemies needed a loud and clear message, and she chose a bone-chilling way to let them know how she felt. 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. She was also known to have initiated the Second Council of Nicea. It might have been a wise move as well, as it would have united the Eastern and Western parts of the Byzantine Empire. Anthousa was having none of it however and politely refused to rule alongside her sister-in-law. There were several sources for the anti-image movement—iconoclasm or "image-smashing," as it came to be known. Irene’s devastating treatment of her own son didn’t go unnoticed by the universe. For nearly two decades, Irene's power as regent was secure, but as Constantine VI approached manhood, he was determined to rule for himself. She did this by offering his sister Anthousa to become co-regent with her. So Irene simply sat by and bided her time. But, as they say in old school horror movies, the biggest threat was coming from inside Irene’s house. 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. The Franks, who ’ d let her continue to reign to end her.... Athena, originates from an earlier Pre-Greek language straw ; Constantine hatched plot! He wasn’t really the most confidence-inducing Emperor of all time discovery, innovation and enlightenment! Shared his power this decision maternal love can imagine, his mama’s,. Him so badly that he perished soon after she fell out of the others southern part of the imperial created! 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