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Irene of Athens
Birth: c. 752
Death: 803

Byzantine Empress. 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. In 771 AD she gave birth to the future Emperor Constantine VI and she became his regent when he inherited the throne at age nine on Leo's death in 780 AD. Leo's half-brother Nikephoros soon began plotting to seize power, but she had him ordained as a priest, therefore disqualifying him from becoming Emperor. She also defeated a rebellion in Sicily, but was forced to pay an annual tribute of at least seventy-thousand dinars to the Arabs in return for a three year truce following their attack on the eastern frontier. She restored the veneration of religious icons and in 787 AD summoned a church council which formally reunited the Eastern Church with the Church of Rome. The territories of Istria and Benevento were lost to the Franks in 788 AD, but her forces successfully subdued the Slavs of Macedonia and Greece. Constantine tried to assert his authority as he came of age, but Irene always crushed his attempts to rule without her, and eventually ordered that his eyes be put out. He died of his wounds in 797 AD and Irene assumed total power, styling herself "Basileus", meaning Emperor. The Pope refused to recognise her rule, crowning Charlemagne as Roman Emperor in 800 AD. She later made an unsuccessful attempt to negotiate a marriage between herself and Charlemagne, but Nikephoros, the finance minister, was placed on the throne after a patrician conspiracy and she was exiled to Lesbos. She was buried with her son in the monastery she had founded at Constantinople. (bio by: js) 
Constantinople, Monastery of St Euphrosyne
Istanbul, Turkey
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: js
Record added: Oct 06, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 42759397
Irene of Athens
Added by: js
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