First empress (q.v.) to rule Byzantium (q.v.) in her own right (797-802); restorer of icons. In state documents she was referred to as "emperor" (basileus [q.v.]), not empress. She was regent for Constantine VI (q.v.) from 780-790, during which time she was aided by the eunuchs Staurakios, logothetes tou dromou (qq.v.), andAetios. In 783 Staurakios launched an expedition against the Slavs in Greece (qq.v.), and in 787 he aided Irene in the restoration of icons at the Seventh Ecumenical Council at Nicaea (q.v.). In 790 Constantine VI removed Irene and her advisors, but they returned to the palace in 792 and plotted Constantine VI's overthrow (797). Her negotiations to marry Charlemagne (q.v.) in 802 were stymied by Aetios and resulted in her overthrow by Nikephoros I (q.v.) that same year.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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