IRENE , the name of several
See also:Byzantine empresses . I . IRENE (752--803), the wife of
See also:Leo IV., East
See also:Roman emperor . Originally a poor but beautiful Athenian
See also:orphan, she speedily gained the love and confidence of her feeble
See also:husband, and at his
See also:death'in 78o was
See also:left by him
See also:guardian of the
See also:empire and of their ten-
See also:year-old son
See also:Constantine VI . Seizing the supreme power in the name of the latter, Irene ruled the empire at ,her own discretion for ten years, displaying
See also:great firmness and sagacity in her
See also:government . Her most notable
See also:act was the restoration of the orthodox image-worship, a policy which she always had secretly favoured, though compelled to abjure it in her husband's lifetime . Having elected Tarasius, one of her partisans, to the patriarchate (784), she summoned two
See also:councils . The former of these, held in 786 at Constantinople, was frustrated by the opposition of the soldiers . The second, convened at Nicaea in 787, formally revived the adoration of images and reunited the Eastern church with that of Rome . As Constantine approached maturity he began to grow restive under her autocratic sway . An attempt to
See also:free himself by force was met and crushed by the empress, who demanded that the
See also:oath of fidelity should thenceforward be taken in her name alone . The discontent which this occasioned swelled in 790 into open resistance, and the soldiers, headed by the Armenian guard, formally proclaimed Constantine VI. as the sole ruler .
A hollow semblance of friendship was maintained between Constantine and Irene, whosetitle of empress was confirmed in 792; but the
See also:rival factions remained, and Irene, by skilful intrigues with the bishops and courtiers, organized a powerful
See also:conspiracy on her own behalf . Constantine could only flee for aid to the provinces, but even there he was surrounded by participants in the plot . Seized by his attendants on the
See also:shore of the
See also:Bosporus, the emperor was carried back to the palace at Constantinople; and there, by the orders of his
See also:mother, his eyes were stabbed out . An eclipse of the
See also:sun and a darkness of seventeen days' duration were attributed by the
See also:common superstition to the horror of
See also:heaven . Irene reigned in prosperity and splendour for five years . She is said to have endeavoured to negotiate a
See also:marriage between herself and Charlemagne; but according to
See also:Theophanes, who alone mentions it, the
See also:scheme was frustrated by Aetius, one of her favourites . A projected
See also:alliance between Constantine and Charlemagne's daughter, Rothrude, was in turn broken off by Irene . In 802 the
See also:patricians, upon whom she had lavished every
See also:honour and favour, conspired against her, and placed on the
See also:throne Nicephorus, the
See also:minister of
See also:finance . The haughty and unscrupulous princess, " who never lost sight of
See also:political power in the height of her religious zeal," was exiled to
See also:Lesbos and forced to support herself by
See also:spinning . She died the following year . Her zeal in restoring images andmonasteries has given her a place among the
See also:saints of the Greek church . See E .
Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (ed . J . Bury,
See also:London, 189.6), vol. v.; G .
See also:History of
See also:Greece (ed . 1877,
See also:Oxford,) vol . 1i.; F . C . Schlosser, Geschichte der bilderstiirmenden Kaiser
See also:des ostromischen Reiches (
See also:Frankfort, 1812) ; J . D . Phoropoulos, Efpiep fi abroep6.m pa 'Pwµalwv (
See also:Leipzig, 1887) ; J . B . Bury, The Later Roman Empire (London, 1889), ii .
480-498 ; C . Diehl, Figures byzantines (
See also:Paris, 1906), pp . 77-109 . (M . O . B . C.) 2 . IRENE (C., Io66–c . 1120), the wife of Alexius I . The best-known fact of her
See also:life is the unsuccessful intrigue by which she endeavoured to divert the succession from her son
See also:John to Nicephorus
See also:Bryennius, the husband of her daughter Anna . Having failed to persuade Alexius, or, upon his death, to carry out a coup d'etat with the help of the palace
See also:guards, she retired to a monastery and ended her life in obscurity . 3 .
IRENE (d . 1161), the first wife of
See also:Comnenus . She was the daughter of the count of Sulzbach, and
See also:law of the Roman emperor
See also:Conrad II., who arranged her
See also:betrothal . The marriage was celebrated at Constantinople in 1146 The new empress, who had exchanged her earlier name of Bertha for one 'more
See also:familiar to the Greeks, became a devoted wife, and by the simplicity of her manner contrasted favourably with most Byzantine queens of the age . H. v . Kap-Herr, Die abendlandische Politik des Kaisers Manuel (Strassburg, 1881) .
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