Irene of Hungary

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Irene of Hungary
Mosaic portrait of Empress Irene on the Comnenos mosaic in the Hagia Sophia, Constantinople (now Istanbul)
Empress consort of the Byzantine Empire
Tenure1104 – 13 August 1134
(with Irene Doukaina, 1104–1118)
Kingdom of Hungary
Died13 August 1134
SpouseJohn II Komnenos
IssueAlexios Komnenos
Maria Komnene
Andronikos Komnenos, Sebastokrator
Anna Komnene
Isaac Komnenos
Theodora Komnene
Eudokia Komnene
Manuel I Komnenos, Byzantine Emperor
HouseHouse of Árpád
FatherLadislaus I of Hungary
MotherAdelaide of Swabia
Empress Irene, tonsured Xenia
Venerated inEastern Orthodoxy
Major shrineChurch of the Holy Apostles, Constantinople modern day Istanbul, Turkey
Feast13 August
AttributesImperial or Monastic Vestment

Irene of Hungary (Greek: Είρήνη, born Piroska; died 13 August 1134) was a Byzantine empress by marriage to John II Komnenos. She is venerated as a saint.


The name Piroska was a Hungarian derivation of the Latin name Prisca, literally meaning 'ancient', but implying 'serious' or 'grave' behaviour.[1] She was a daughter of Ladislaus I of Hungary and Adelaide of Swabia. Her mother died in 1090 when Piroska was still a child. Her father died on 29 July 1095 and was succeeded by his nephew Coloman.

In an effort to improve relations with Alexios I Komnenos of the Byzantine Empire, Coloman negotiated the marriage of Piroska to John II Komnenos. John II was the eldest son of Alexios I and Irene Doukaina. He was already co-ruler of his father since late 1092 and was expected to succeed him.

The negotiations were successful and Piroska married John in 1104. The marriage was recorded by Joannes Zonaras and John Kinnamos. Following her conversion to the Eastern Orthodox Church and settlement in Constantinople, Piroska was renamed Irene.[2]

Irene played little part in government, devoting herself to piety and her many children. She was, with her husband, the patron of the construction of the Monastery of Christ Pantokrator (Zeyrek Mosque) in Constantinople. This monastery contained three churches and a hospital of 5 wards, which was open to people of all social classes.[3]

Irene died on 13 August 1134 and was later venerated as Saint Irene.[4]


She and John had eight children. The primary source about their order of births is the chronicle of Niketas Choniates:

  1. Alexios Komnenos (February 1106 – 1142), co-emperor from 1122 to 1142. His birth is recorded in the AlexiadAlexiad by Anna Komnene.
  2. Maria Komnene (b. February 1106, twin to Alexios), who married John Rogerios Dalassenos.
  3. Andronikos Komnenos (died 1142).
  4. Anna Komnene, married Stephen Kontostephanos.
  5. Isaac Komnenos (died 1154).
  6. Theodora Komnene (died 12 May 1157), who married Manuel Anemas.
  7. Eudokia Komnene, who married Theodore Vatatzes.
  8. Manuel I Komnenos (died 1180), emperor from 1143 to 1180.


  1. ^ Kálmán, Béla (1979) The World of Names: A Study in Hungarian Onomatology, Akadémiai Kiadó, p. 28
  2. ^ Garland, L. (1999). Byzantine Empresses. Women and Power in Byzantium, AD 527-1204. Routledge. p. 199. ISBN 0-203-02481-8.
  3. ^ Necipoğlu, Nevra (ed.) (2001) Byzantine Constantinople, Brill, p. 133
  4. ^ Gautier, Paul (1969). "L'obituaire du typikon du Pantokrator". Revue des études byzantines. 27: 247–248. doi:10.3406/rebyz.1969.1423.


External links[edit]

Irene of Hungary
 Died: 1134
Royal titles
Preceded by Byzantine Empress consort
Succeeded by