Irene (752-803), Byzantine empress, born of a humble family in Athens. In 769 she married Emperor Leo IV. After her husband's death she ruled as regent during the minority of her son, Emperor Constantine VI. Irene desired supreme power, however, and contested the throne with Constantine, whom she eventually had imprisoned and blinded in 797. Subsequently, her rule was uncontested until 802, when the patricians revolted and exiled her to the island of Lésvos. During her reign image worship was restored by a decree of the Second Council of Nicaea, which Irene had summoned in 787 for this purpose.