Beauty, brains, and an iron will: Irene of Athens used all of these to stay in power in the cut-throat world of the Byzantine Empire. Officially, Irene may have been a regent for her son the Emperor, but unofficially? Everyone knew that she called the shots. Brace yourself: We’re unveiling the story of Irene’s spectacular rise to power and her chilling fall from grace.

Empress Irene Of Athens Facts

1. She Was A Blue Blood

Irene’s path to the throne of the Byzantine Empire was a twisted one—but she did have a leg up the beginning. Born in Athens around 750, she was a member of extremely influential and noble Sarantapechos clan. Only, there was a twist. Irene experienced immense tragedy from a young age, with both of her parents dying when she was a girl.

There was, however, one consolation.

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