Empress Irene of Athens was the first female ruler of the Byzantine Empire. Born between 750 and 755 into a noble family of Athens, she was chosen to be a bride of Leo IV – the son of Emperor Constantine V. Overnight, this orphan noble girl became a bride of an Heir of Byzantine Emperor. Emperor Constantine V died making Leo IV the next emperor. By the end of year 776, Leo IV ascended to the throne at the age of twenty-five years, with Irene as his empress consort.
The First Coins of Empress Irene were joint issues, issued along with her Husband. The other gold coin was issued when she became a regent for their nine-year-old son Constantine VI. The coin depicts the crowned bust of Irene facing and holding cross on the globe as well as sceptre surmounted by a cross on the obverse. This signifies that Empress Irene is now playing the roles of both the Emperor and the Empress. On the other side of the coins, a bust of the new emperor is portrayed.
Later, she proclaimed herself next Empress of Byzantine and began ruling from the throne. Now, on the coins of Empress Irene only depict her Image. These coins of Empress Irene are known for her sole reign. Example of this Gold solidus of Empress Irene Sarantapechaina is shown in the image. It depicting her bust on both the obverse and reverse sides.
In 802 the patricians conspired against her, deposing her on 31 October, and placing Nikephoros, the minister of finance, on the throne. Irene was exiled to Lesbos and forced to support herself by spinning wool. She died the following year.
Image Source: Wikipedia.org