She was the eldest daughter of the 81st Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV and the Lady Anirul Sadow-Tonkin Corrino, the most famous Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother Proctor Superior of the Hidden Noble Rank and Kwisatz Mother. Irulan had four younger sisters named Chalice, Wensicia, Josifa and Rugi, and no brothers.
Paul's attention came at last to a tall blonde woman, green-eyed, a face of patrician beauty, classic in its hauteur, untouched by tears, completely undefeated. Without being told it, Paul knew her — Princess Royal, Bene Gesserit-trained, a face that time vision had shown him in many aspects: Irulan. There's my key, he thought.
Baron Vladimir Harkonnen later notes that Irulan had eyes "that looked past and through him." In Dune Messiah, the Tleilaxu Face Dancer Scytale refers to Irulan as "a tall blond beauty ... she carried herself with an aristocrat's hauteur, but something in the absorbed smoothness of her features betrayed the controls of her Bene Gesserit background."
Template:Spoiler Irulan was born in 10,162 A.G. and raised among the intrigues and politics of her father's Imperial Court upon Kaitain, where she received the finest of education and conditioning to make her a young lady of refinement and elegance suitable to be the eldest daughter of an Padishah Emperor of the Known Universe. She grew up to be just such, described as willowy of appearance with fair skin, platinum-blonde hair and bright jade-green eyes.
She was also the youngest member of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood just like her mother before her, and she received training from them and instruction to follow their ways. In anticipation for the conception of the Kwisatz Haderach, the Sisterhood had conspired so that her Bene Gesserit mother would only bear daughters, making Irulan's father the last Padishah Emperor of House Corrino. The resultant vacuum of power would provide the perfect opportunity for the Kwisatz Haderach to seize the imperial throne, effectively giving control to the Bene Gesserit.
Irulan's Bene Gesserit teachers realized the girl's important position as the key to the throne, and her training was sufficient enough (through her mother and the Imperial Truthsayer, Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam) to hopefully make her coercible at some point in the future when she would find herself in a position of power. But despite all the manipulations and expectations of others, Irulan retained a strong sense of personal identity and ambition, qualities that would cause tensions especially with her strong-willed father and Bene Gesserit would-be masters. Her teachers also found her to be lazy. She rarely tried harder than necessary because of her priviledged upbringing and rank, and so her powers and skills never reached their full potential.
Meanwhile, Irulan's father, Shaddam IV, expected the girl to participate in his schemes to keep House Corrino's power concentrated by either making her succeed him as Empress or at the very least marrying her to a husband that would allow some retention of House Corrino's influence over the Imperium.
The Plot against House Atreides
As Duke Leto Atreides' power and influence grew in the Landsraad, there was wide speculation that Irulan could be married to either Leto or his son Paul to symbolize Shaddam's selection of House Atreides to peacefully assume the Imperial throne after his death; but the Emperor's jealousy of the "Red Duke" Leto instead led him to orchestrate a plot to destroy him. Irulan wrote:
My father, the Padishah Emperor, took me by the hand one day and I sensed in the ways my mother had taught me that he was disturbed. He led me down the Hall of Portraits to the ego-likeness of the Duke Leto Atreides. I marked the strong resemblance between them — my father and this man in the portrait--both with thin, elegant faces and sharp features dominated by cold eyes. Princess-daughter, my father said, I would that you'd been older when it came time for this man to choose a woman. My father was 71 at the time and looking no older than the man in the portrait, and I was but 14, yet I remember deducing in that instant that my father secretly wished the Duke had been his son, and disliked the political necessities that made them enemies. — In My Father's House by the Princess Irulan
To get House Harkonnen to assist with this scheme, the Emperor offered to potentially give Irulan in marriage to the Harkonnen heir apparent, na-Baron Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, along with the riches of the fief of Arrakis. Baron Vladimir Harkonnen favored this arrangement, as he believed such a union and plan would greatly assist in the establishment of a Harkonnen Empire. Irulan was so ensnared, and would oppose being used as such a pawn.
The plot against the Atreides was executed: lured to Arrakis on the pretense of taking over the valuable melange operation there, the Atreides were soon attacked by Harkonnen forces (secretly supplemented by the seemingly unstoppable Imperial Sardaukar). Leto was killed, and Paul and his Bene Gesserit mother Jessica fled into the desert and were presumed dead. A crisis on Arrakis began when the mysterious Muad'Dib emerged as an effective leader of the native Fremen tribes against the rule of the Harkonnens. He was, of course, a very-much-alive Paul Atreides.
The Downfall of the Corrino Empire
In the events of Dune, the situation finally broke on Arrakis and Shaddam was forced to personally intervene. Irulan went with her father and his army of Sardaukar shock troops to the desert planet as he sought to restore order and the disrupted production of the all-important spice melange. After Shaddam's armies were disastrously defeated by the Fremen assault, Paul set his terms: the Imperial armada would leave Arrakis and Paul would marry Irulan — or he would destroy all spice production.
Shaddam was furious; Irulan said: "But here's a man fit to be your son." Once Paul defeated the treacherous Feyd-Rautha in single combat, and Count Fenring refused the Emperor's order to kill Paul, it was done — Paul would ascend the throne in Shaddam's place, assuming power of the Empire in Irulan's name. Jessica summed it up thus:
"See that princess standing there, so haughty and confident. They say she has pretensions of a literary nature. Let us hope she finds solace in such things; she'll have little else." A bitter laugh escaped Jessica. "Think on it, Chani: that princess will have the name, yet she'll live as less than a concubine — never to know a moment of tenderness from the man to whom she's bound. While we, Chani, we who carry the name of concubine — history will call us wives."
An Unhappy Marriage to Paul Atreides
Irulan was not originally unhappy with her position as Imperial Consort, as she desired to be the mother of a new Atreides-Corrino royal bloodline with Paul and hopefully retain the Imperial House Corrino's influence in some form. However, she would quickly discover that she was to be Paul's wife in name and title only, as he intended his beloved concubine Chani to bear his children and heirs apparent, essentially writing Irulan out of her desired place in history.
In Dune Messiah it is revealed that this resentment, coupled with Bene Gesserit orders that Paul not be allowed to father an heir with Chani, drove Irulan to secretly drug the Fremen woman with dangerous contraceptives. As a result, the new Emperor and his concubine were without children for twelve years. When Chani began taking large quantities of the spice melange to counter the effects of the contraceptives, Irulan was urged by Reverend Mother Mohiam to chemically abort any potential fetus, but she protested. Irulan did, however, become part of a conspiracy against the Emperor involving the Bene Gesserit, Tleilaxu, and Spacing Guild. Irulan's skills as a court player would never match her scholarship, as her double-crossing and drugging of Chani were both found out. Paul threatened her banishment to the hellworld of Salusa Secundus with the rest of the Corrinos, but she was never so directly punished.
She was productive during this time in her role as historian, writing at least twenty works on Muad'Dib and related events. In addition, she never indulged Paul's offer to discreetly cuckold him for her own pleasures.
The Later Years
Chani died after giving birth to Paul's twin children, Leto II and Ghanima, and Paul (now blind) soon thereafter wandered alone into the desert to die. Irulan was intensely grieved by these deaths (Chani's death being caused by her druggings, and Paul's being a subsequent result), at this time first feeling a deep love for her husband that she had never realized she had.
Irulan subsequently devoted herself to House Atreides and Paul and Chani's two orphaned children by deserting the Bene Gesserit to raise and train the twins as their foster mother. During the events of Children of Dune, Irulan attempted to serve as a guide and confidant to Ghanima, but was often flustered by the child's near-infinite wit and experience gained from her genetic memories. Irulan also served as a chief advisor to Paul's sister, Alia, during her reign as Holy Regent. Alia never trusted Irulan because of her Corrino heritage and Alia's increasing paranoia; this distrust proved to be well-placed, as Irulan followed Ghanima and Stilgar into the desert during the Fremen rebellion against Alia's tyranny. Though the other rebels were massacred, Irulan was imprisoned upon her capture.
Later, after the rise of Leto II as the God Emperor of the Known Universe, Irulan spent her remaining years continuing her study and documentation of historical and contemporary events. Irulan eventually died in 10,248 A.G.
Works attributed to Irulan
Excerpts from the following works appear in the form of epigraphs in Dune, as well as (to a lesser extent) other novels in the series:
Irulan in adaptations
Irulan is essentially the narrator of the novel Dune, via the epigraphs from her later writings which opened each chapter. The 1984 film preserved this version; as in the novel, Irulan only appeared in person at the very end of the story but narrated an introduction to the Dune universe.
The 2000 miniseries, however, invented an extensive subplot for Irulan. Director John Harrison has said that he felt the need to expand Irulan's role because she played such an important part in later books, and her epigraphs made her a significant presence in the novel. Additionally, the character gave him a window into House Corrino.  In the miniseries, Irulan is sent to Arrakis to confirm Duke Leto's position, and there strikes up a friendship with his son, Paul. After the attack on the Atreides, she immediately realizes that her father is the only one who could have possibly helped the Harkonnens. Irulan proceeds to send spies (loyal to her and not the Emperor) to the Harkonnen homeworld of Giedi Prime to gather information on the massacre. Irulan herself then spies on Mohiam's clandestine meeting with a Spacing Guild operative. Realizing that something big is afoot, she heads for Giedi Prime herself and coyly gains the needed information from Feyd. As the Fremen uprising grows worse, Irulan joins her father's planning councils and offers valuable advice. She is the only one to realize the connection between Muad'Dib and Paul Atreides (which she dramatically reveals after Alia's capture), and she sees the unavoidable end to the situation before she even arrives on Arrakis.
Besides the final scene in which Irulan is betrothed to Paul, the only of her appearances in the miniseries based on an actual excerpt from the novel is her visit to Feyd. However, in the book it is a different Bene Gesserit, Margot Fenring, who visits the Harkonnen heir, on assignment from the Sisterhood to retrieve his genetic material (through conception) for their breeding program. The miniseries does not suggest this as Irulan's motive. After the apparent death of Paul, Irulan also prophetically recounts a Bene Gesserit saying (quoted by Margot in the novel): Do not count a human dead until you've seen his body. And even then you can make a mistake.
Irulan Corrino according to the Dune Encyclopedia
Her Extreme Imperial Highness, Princess Irulan Corrino is the eldest daughter of the 81st Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV of the Known Universe and the recent Lady Anirul Sadow-Tonkin Corrino in the Dune Universe.
She turned out to be the co-author and editor of numerous historical works; and an object of veneration as Saint Irulan-the-Virgin.
During her longest life-time here on [[Kaitain], she was also the firstborn Imperial Crown Princess and the heiress apparent to the Golden Lion Throne of the Galactic Padishah Empire with her future role of being the Supreme Padishah Goddess-Empress of the Known Universe.
As the favorite daughter of the Padishah Emperor and his Empress Consort, Irulan was trained in the nuances and the obligations of command.
Still being one of the youngest Bene Gesserit Sisterhood members, she received additional training in techniques of observation, memory and self-control. However, suffering from peer pressures and her own intellectual inadequacies, she never excelled in either her courtly or Bene Gesserit studies.
Little is known of Irulan's early childhood, but one tendency emerged early in life: her obsession with writing. Beginning at the age of five, she kept a journal and later confided her thoughts to a diary.
While she entered the local Bene Gesserit Chapterhouse to began her full training, she continued both the diary and the journal; the diary enabled her to develop her analytic capacities, especially in regard to human character, and the journal prepared the way for her growth as an historian.
Her journalistic and her introspective tendencies were enhanced by the Bene Gesserit training with its emphasis on observation and analysis.
The Bene Gesserit Reverend Mothers came to regard Irulan as one of the weakest links in their power structure; Irulan remained an independent thinker, and what she thought about most was an exception to the qualities usually demonstrated by the people in cloister around her. In a setting which promoted the sacrifice of personality to the political structure and the sacrifice of family loyalty to power, she developed an admiration for and a faith in normal humanity and the old-fashioned virtues of love and devotion.
Irulan's writings include very little about Anuril and it is clear that her non-relationship with her own mother did nothing to counterbalance the attitudes toward motherhood to which she was exposed. Motherhood was not a virtue espoused by either the royal houses or the Bene Gesserit, since in either case it was merely a biological role made to serve other, larger purposes than love for and nurturing of a child. Her father, therefore, was the dominant figure in her life. She wrote much about the significance of fatherhood and clearly regarded her father (whose favourite child she was) as a source of instructive wisdom as well as affection.
The degradation of the mother role, a strong devotion to a male figure, the ability to find satisfaction in her writing, her training in royal command - all these laid the basis for Irulan's acceptance - with only small spurts of rebellion - of the position of virgin wife to Paul Atreides. In her position as Paul's virgin queen, she stood for the moral law of the community, a law which upheld order and status and continuity. But her passivity in the acceptance of her role indicates, also, a lowered sexual threshold, confirmed by her decision to remain single after the death of Paul. Further, these qualities explain her later assumption of the role of protectress of Paul's children. Surrounded by a prescience she did not share - that found in Alia, Leto II, and Ghanima - her major role naturally became that of supporting, rather than leading, actress.
But since those "children," Leto and Ghanima, were never really children, that tune Irulan devoted to their rearing marked a quiescent period for her. Standing beside Chani, and later beside Alia in the royal court, she contributed wherever and whenever she could to the royal judgments and directions for the good of House Atreides. Blonde, tall, and beautiful, she commanded by her appearance a certain awe from strangers, an awe which she, remote, refused to concede; she knew too well her role as royal pawn. Without seeking power for herself, she could gain little respect from others, but all the while she was carefully observing and analyzing.
As Leto II assumed command of the Bene Gesserit breeding program and the powers of the Bene Gesserit declined accordingly, they lost their reasons for secrecy, and a new age, of sorts, dawned in the empire - an age which historians centuries later called the Age of Enlightenment. Irulan was a motivating force for this age, for she began thinking of founding an imperial library. With the accession of Farad'n to the position of royal scribe, she found a powerful ally.
For many people the quality of Irulan's scholarship remained in dispute. When she was a child her father had given her access to certain rare volumes' in the royal archives, but during her lifetime no one was sufficiently interested in her work to investigate the value of this background - even though she had certain important works copied for the new library. After the accession of Leto II, she continued her own writing and also edited the works of others, producing biographies, collections of others' sayings, dictionaries, histories, and the editions. Among these were the Fremen [[Stilgar]'s private papers, and her editing of them vastly improved his style. Over the years she became a skilled interviewer; the sympathy of her expression inspired confidence and no doubt explains the frankness of the intimations she elicited from her subjects. Thirty years after Leto's accession, she returned to Wallach IX, where she died in comparative obscurity.
Irulan never had a sense of being "drunk on too much time"; knowing only too well the crude jokes about the possible anagrams of her name, she sought refuge in quiet dignity and careful work. From her research, she knew that Irene was an ancient Greek word meaning "peace," and, never using any of her royal titles as pen names, she signed many of her works with the simple logo "IR."
During her last thirty years on Arrakis, rumours persisted of romances, first with Duncan Idaho-10235, and later with the son of Ghanima and Farad'n; but these were ill-founded. Irulan ever remained the Virgin Queen.
Ten-thousand years following her death, her works were "discovered," and some time after that a movement of veneration for St. Irulan the Virgin developed among the populace.
That Irulan could counter tradition and remain virginal gave her special significance in the years after her death. Not merely her scholarship but also her independence of viewpoint and her transcendence of physical demands led to an idealization of her.
Only through her did women come to realize that the Imperium standards were almost totally male chauvinistic; even the Lady Jessica, austere as she could be at most times, once descended to a remark about Alia's lovers and spoke of "horns" on Duncan Idaho.
That unfounded rumours about Irulan's possible lovers were circulated during her lifetime only served to emphasize the necessity for alternative thinking, and for a union of women who refused to acquiesce to the subservience of the breeding body.
The cult of the Virgin which developed with Irulan's inspiration and her single figure as role-playing supermodel, ten-thousand during long life as a immortal demigod right before her untimely death, was an idea whose time should have come sooner, as later enthusiasts agreed. With the eventual decline of the Bene Gesserit, with the development of women militia - the Fish Speakers - under Leto II, a cult of the Virgin received much support from young women as an alternative to the traditional government-sanctioned roles. The new cult espoused scholarship, independence of viewpoint, the virtues of joy, equanimity, and compassion - and remained an anomaly in the Imperium.
IRULAN AS PRE-HISTORIAN
Now that the Rakis Finds have restored her body of work, we can appreciate Irulan's enormous literary output. All the works listed below have been identified, and are numbered in the Rakis Reference Catalog. Many have been published in the Library Confraternity's Temporary Series, and many others have been licensed to commercial presses. Since the number of these works in print increases almost from day to day, the interested readers should check the title of the desired book against the latest Confraternity Update, available at any member library system.
Analyses: The Dunebook of Irulan, considered by some to be her most scholarly work, an appraisal of and prognosis for the planet; The Chakobsa Way, largely derived from conversations with Ghanima; The Irulan Report, containing the muchquoted chapter, "St. Alia of the Knife";
Analysis: The Arrakeen Crisis, a revision and updating of The Dunebook; Private Reflections of Muad'Dib, mainly derived from Chani's reports; The Wisdom of Muad'Dib, from Irulan's profound respect for Paul; Muad'Dib: The Religious Issues, an investigation of the importance of religion for the populace and an attempt to appraise without condemnation the problems of the Messiah role; and Lecture to the Arrakeen War College, her latest work of analysis, a speech prepared to respond to the college's recognition of her work in founding the national library.
Biography: These titles reveal Man's preferences because, with reservations only about Count Fenring and Alia, she generally admired her biographical subjects. The titles are self-explanatory: Chani, Daughter of Liet, A Child's History of Muad'Dib, Count Fenring: A Profile, The Humanity of Muad'Dib, In My Father's House (somewhat autobiographical), The Lion Throne (Leto, Paul, and Leto II) and Muad'Dib, the Man, which has a preface by Stilgar.
Collections: At times Irulan was forced to proceed somewhat as a folklorist, recording the knowledge of the people. Some of the maxims, paragraphs, and chapters in these collections she was able to attach names to; others are anonymous. Some are derived from court records and other inscriptions made by the official scribe of the Imperium: Book of Judgment, court proceedings made public only with special consent of the emperor; Collected Legends of Arrakis, folklore; Collected Sayings of Muad'Dib, some authenticated and some not; Conversations with Muad'Dib, derived from diaries and records of several persons; The Dunebook, an annual encyclopedia; The Dune Gospels, compiled by religious leaders; Muad'Dib: Conversations, as recorded by fifteen amateur scribes; Muad'Dib to His Fedaykin, reliable official records; Palimbasha, actual lectures given by Paul Muad'Dib at Sietch Tabr; The Preacher at Arrakeen, written by the priests in the public square; Proverbs of Muad'Dib, folklore collection; Words of Muad'Dib, a collection of Paul's public utterances.
Edited Texts: The following titles are mainly self-explanatory; but many later scholars of Irulan's work held the opinion that her finest work was that of editor: Alia's Commentary; Ancient Fremen Sayings; The Emperor Paul Muad'Dib (compiled with a chapter by each of twelve other historians); The Hayt Chronicle; Muad'Dib: The Ninety-Nine Wonders of the Universe; The Stilgar Chronicle; The Stilgar Commentary; Stilgar's Report to the Landsraad; A Time of Reflection by Paul Muad'Dib; Words of the Mentat (Duncan Idaho-10208). Another work, The Commentaries, was in two parts, the first by Alia and the second by Farad'n, and edited by Irulan.
Fine Writing: Irulan's creative work includes Muad'Dib, an Island of Selfdom, an elegy for Paul and one of the finest elegies ever written in both Atreidean Galach and Fremen. Ornithopera, which Irulan intended to read Ornith-opera, a drama; and Shadows of Dune, a collection of Irulan's poetry.
History: Man's histories, as distinguished from her biographies, reveal her fine perceptions of causes and her ability to generalize with clarity from an extensive fund of details. The first of these works remained the most popular.
Arrakis Awakening, the development of Dune from before Liet- Kynes to the accession of Leto II; History of Muad'Dib, written so objectively a reader can overlook Irulan's close personal association with Paul. (Literary scholars agree that these works provided Harq al-Harba with much of his source material.)
Library Holdings: Irulan used her special access to and knowledge of the Salusa Secundus royal library to enhance the collections on Arrakis. She copied an index of the royal holdings and made the index available to Arrakeen scholars and arranged an inter-library request system. Also, she expanded the collection of voice tapes, including many from the Bene Gesserit archives on Wallach IX. She collected from several sources in the Imperium whatever reference works she considered valuable and contributed her own personal copies for the public good.
The Library Holdings also include many small pamphlets and onepage manuscripts of important persons, as well as various folk materials of uncertain classification - popular culture, Fremen songs, journals, epitaphs, rituals, letters, etc., of which one valuable item is The Habbanya Lament. This poem was a favourite of the Lady Jessica because of its celebration of Caladan, where she lived with her beloved Duke.