Irene was the Empress at Constantinople during the reign of Charlemagne. The Empress Irene blinded her son to prevent his accession to the throne. Though she had recently restored image worship in the Eastern church, and thus partly healed its rift with Rome, she was an odious character in Western eyes.

Charlemagne (in desiring the eastern empire) offered to marry Irene. This proposal was rejected, and the easterners themselves deposed Irene and elected Nicephorus emperor in her stead. Thus the East contested the validity of what the West had done, and in maintaining its own line of emperors it continued to contest the claim of the West.
[25, 76]

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