Claudius I (Biographical details)

Claudius I (ruler; royal/imperial; Roman; Male; 10BC - 54)

Also known as

Claudius; Tiberius Claudius Drusus; Claudius I


Emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, reigned 41-54.
Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (August 1, 10 BC - October 13, 54), (Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus before his accession) was the fourth Roman Emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, ruling from January 24, 41 to his death in 54. Born in Lugdunum in Gaul (modern-day Lyon, France), to Drusus and Antonia Minor, he was the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy.

Claudius was considered a rather unlikely man to become emperor. He was reportedly afflicted with some type of disability, and his family had virtually excluded him from public office until his consulship with his nephew Caligula (Gaius, q.v.) in 37. This infirmity may have saved him from the fate of many other Roman nobles during the purges of Tiberius' (q.v.) and Caligula's reigns. His very survival led to his being declared emperor after Caligula's assassination, at which point he was the last adult male of his family. Despite his lack of political experience, Claudius proved to be an able administrator and a great builder of public works. His reign saw an expansion of the empire, including the conquest of Britain in 43. He took a personal interest in the law, presided at public trials, and issued up to twenty edicts a day. However, he was seen as vulnerable throughout his rule, particularly by the nobility. Claudius was constantly forced to shore up his position - resulting in the deaths of many senators. He also suffered tragic setbacks in his personal life, one of which led to his murder. These events damaged his reputation among the ancient writers. More recent historians have revised this opinion.

Claudius married his third wife, Valeria Messalina (q.v.) in c. 39; she bore him a daughter, Octavia (q.v.), and a son, Britannicus (q.v.). He then married his niece Agrippina the Younger (q.v.), already mother of Nero (q.v.), who was made joint heir with Britannicus.