At Leo IV’s death his widow Irene became regent for their nine-year-old son Constantine VI. An empress without the support of a strong emperor was always at a disadvantage at the Byzantine court, and Leo’s five younger brothers were all of age and obvious rivals for imperial power. But Irene, in her mid-twenties, was shrewd and iron-willed, with a firm commitment to restoring the icons that had already won herallies in the palace. Not two months after Leo’s death, she frustrated a conspiracy to proclaim one of his brothers, and had all five of them ordained priests.
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