Claudius

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Roman Daily Life

Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus or simply Claudius was the fourth emperor of the Roman Empire. He ruled 41 C.E. until his death in 54 C.E. Claudius was anointed Roman Emperor after the assassination of Caligula by the Praetorian Guard.

Claudius was the fourth Roman Emperor from the Julio-Claudian Dynasty. He traced his family roots to his uncle Tiberius, and Marc Antony was his grandfather.

Early years

Claudius was born in 10 B.C.E. to Drusus, his father, and Antonia Minor was his mother. He was the brother of Germanicus, a famous general under Augustus. He was the uncle of Caligula and Tiberius.

Claudius was born at Lugdunum in Roman Gaul or near present-day Lyon, France. He was the first Roman Emperor to born outside of Italy. Claudius’ father, Drusus, died while on a military campaign in Germania during 9 B.C.E. He was then raised by his mother, Antonia, who never remarried.

As a child, Claudius struggled with illness. He had several health issues including stammering, a lisp, he tended to drool from the mouth, and he had a limp when he walked. His mother, Antonia, the daughter of Marc Antony, even realized he was not well. She felt considered him a monster that Mother Nature put aside.

The family tried hard to shelter Claudius from politics for his health reasons. Because of his health issues, Claudius was not targeted by Tiberius or Caligula. He was the brunt of many jokes, though by Caligula.

In 7 C.E., his grandmother Livia hired a tutor named Livia to school him. Augustus, at one point, noticed that Claudius was becoming an excellent orator and was pleased.

None, the less Claudius spent most of his free time studying law, history, and writing history. Some historians think this led Claudius to a life of drinking and gambling.

Claudius married four different times throughout his lifetime. He had one son named Britannicus born to his third wife named Messalina. Claudius later had his wife killed for being unfaithful.

His last wife, Agrippina, the Younger, was the mother of future Roman Emperor Nero from a different marriage. The marriage helped secure the next Roman Emperor from the Julio-Claudian Dynasty.

Assassination of Caligula

When the Praetorian Guard killed Caligula and his family in 41 C.E., they found Claudius behind a curtain. The Praetorian Guard immediately made him the Roman Emperor, but the Roman Senate was not ready.

There were numerous false stories that Claudius had planned the assassination of Caligula. Claudius refused to appear in front of the Senate, fearing he would be executed. Eventually, the Roman Senate anointed him, Roman Emperor.

Roman Emperor

As Roman Emperor, one of Claudius’ first moves was to execute the assassins involved in killing Caligula. He helped bring peace and restored the Roman rule of law. Claudius proved he was worthy of leading the people and Rome.

He set up an imperial civil service and made some agrarian reforms. Claudius built a new harbor in Ostia, constructed aqueducts to secure water for Rome, gave food for the poor in the streets during a drought, and he abolished the treason trials once again.

Claudius expanded the Roman Empire for the first time since Augustus. He was instrumental in securing new lands in several places, including Judea, Thrace, and he completed the taking of Mauretania, which started under Caligula.

Probably the most important expansion was taking over Britannia. In 43 C.E., he sent four Roman legions across the English Channel. After the initial battles of the campaign, he joined the troops with reinforcements.

Conquering Britannia was huge for the Roman Empire. The new lands were loaded with wealth from mines and slaves to work the fields in Italy.

Another important task of Claudius, while he was Roman Emperor, was to take a census of Roman citizens. In 48 C.E., when completed, the census showed there were around one million more Roman citizens since the time of Augustus’ rule.

Death

Claudius died in 54 C.E. Most historians believe he was poisoned by his wife Agrippina the Younger. She wanted to make sure her son Nero became Roman Emperor before Claudius’ own son Britannicus came of age to lead the Roman Empire. Claudius was succeeded by Nero, who would become the last Roman Emperor of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty.

Important facts about Claudius

  • Claudius was born in 10 B.C.E. to Nero Claudius Drusus, and his mother was Antonia Minor, the daughter of Marc Antony. Thus, Tiberius was his uncle, and Marc Antony was his grandfather.
  • He was considered to be ill. He walked with a limp, slurred his words, and drooled. His mother once called him a monster that Mother Nature created.
  • Claudius was spared from danger brought on by treason trials of Tiberius and Caligula because of his sickness.
  • He became the fourth Roman Emperor of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty after the assassination of Caligula.
  • As a child and teenager, he studied law and history. Claudius is known as a scholar and the only scholar to become Roman Emperor.
  • Claudius was a good emperor to the people. He constructed aqueducts, a new harbor, gave food to the poor during a drought, and he stopped the treason trials.
  • He also conquered many new lands expanding the Roman Empire for the first time since Augustus. Claudius was instrumental in conquering new lands in Britannia. The new land in Britannia brought wealth to Rome from the mines and slaves to work the fields.
  • Claudius was poisoned by his wife Agrippina the Younger in 54 C.E.

Questions

Who was the uncle of Claudius?
Tiberius

His mother was the daughter of which Roman general?
Marc Antony

Claudius was instrumental in expanding the Roman Empire for the first time since which Roman Emperor?
Augustus

What was the most important new territory conquered by Claudius?
Britannia

Who poisoned Claudius, causing his death?
Agrippina the Younger