I have a LOT more reading to do on this woman- but here’s a quick summary.

Empress Irene (752-803)- Irene Sarantapechaina was born an orphan in Athens, Greece. She married in 769 (by being chosen at a bride-show), became empress in 775 and in 760 served as regent for her young son after her husband’s death. Known to be extremely ambitious and strong-willed, she restored icon veneration- the act of honoring a saint of a person who has been identified as having a high degree of sanctity or holiness (I had to look that up.)

When her son Constantine IV came of age, he seized power from his mother in 790 but eventually made her co-ruler in 797. Mom conspired against her own son, had him blinded, and took it all back. She was the first woman to be the sole ruler of the Byzantine Empire. Fascinating. I will definitely do more research and report back.