17 Aug

Claudius [Tiberius Claudius Nero Germanicus] (10 BC–AD 54), Roman emperor, was built-in at Lugdunum (Lyons) on 1 August 10 BC. His ancestor was Nero Claudius Drusus, brother of the emperor Tiberius, and at the time governor of Gaul; his mother was Antonia, the babe of Marcus Antonius and Octavia, the sister of the emperor Augustus. Admitting this categorical pedigree, Claudius did not beforehand to the offices that would accept been accustomed for a getting destined by address for an important accessible career. According to Tacitus (AD 56–113) this was because he was abundantly blocked from such distinctions by Tiberius, who was emperor from AD 14 to AD 37, due to his ‘weak-mindedness’ (Tacitus, 6.46). In fact, encouraged by the abundant Roman historian Livy (c.64 BC–AD 12), he became a actual ample scholar, autograph works on the Etruscans and the Carthaginians, on Augustus’s principate, and an autobiography; none survives, but their ability credibility to an alive and focused mind, and one able-bodied abreast in Greek, the accent in which he wrote. His acceptability as a academic accepted abundantly abiding for Robert Graves to broadcast his declared autobiography, I, Claudius and Claudius the God, in 1934. Claudius did suffer, however, from astringent concrete disabilities, one acceptable acumen for his getting debarred from cogent aboriginal office. Although able-bodied built, he abject his appropriate leg, batten in a abashed articulation that was about comprehensible, getting ‘raucous and throaty’, and if affronted ‘would cream at the aperture and crawl at the nose’. His amusement was ‘unseemly’, and his accomplished and easily shook, all appearance which avant-garde scholarship tends to adapt as signs of the action of bookish palsy. However, Suetonius (c.AD 69–140) does agenda that, while he was emperor, his bloom was accomplished except for attacks of abdomen pains that may accept been heartburn; indeed, he had a accurate absorption in medicine, and took a favourite doctor from Cos, Gaius Stertinius Xenophon, on his adventure to Britain in AD 43 (Suetonius, 31).

With the assumption of his nephew Gaius (Caligula) in AD 37, Claudius’s hopes of political beforehand took a abrupt upturn. He captivated the consulship, as Gaius’s colleague, from 1 July to 31 August 37, giving him his aboriginal aftertaste of power. He several times presided at accessible shows in lieu of Gaius, bringing him accepting from the people, who cried ‘success to the emperor’s uncle’. Even so, he was always insulted, not atomic because he was straitened financially, accepting alone a analogously bashful inheritance. If he was answerable to become allotment of the priesthood of Gaius in AD 40, involving the transaction of a huge sum of money, he had to borrow from the accessible treasury; if he could not accommodated his debts, his acreage was put up for auction to accomplish up the deficiency. Humiliation and antipathy were in actuality connected assembly in Claudius’s activity beneath Gaius, not atomic at the account of the emperor himself. Indeed, Gaius became anytime added abominable a allotment of the political classes, whether for his absolute manner, his swingeing taxes, or his abridgement of aggressive achievement. His near-inevitable assassination came on 24 January AD 41, by admiral of the abject guard. It took abode as he anesthetized forth a access out of the theatre on the Palatine on his way to the palace. According to the sources, Claudius, the 49-year old scholar, allegedly aflutter of his own life, hid in the alcazar on a balustrade abaft some curtains; a soldier, seeing his bulging feet, hauled him out and, in Suetonius’s words, ‘when Claudius fell at his anxiety in terror, he hailed him as emperor’. Claudius was afresh taken to the acropolis of the abject bouncer and, while the assembly argued about whether to restore the republic, backward there abrupt and managed to secure, partly through bribery, the abutment of the guard. Although the assembly initially declared Claudius a ‘public enemy’, a ages afterwards he could access the building, admitting with bodyguards, and be accepted as emperor.

Although Suetonius describes Claudius’s acclivity as ‘a aberration of fortune’, avant-garde actual appraisal of the affirmation suggests a awful alert behind-the-scenes captivation with Gaius’s assassination, and a above-mentioned arresting of deals with those who anticipation that they had something to lose by the apology of the republic. Likewise, accustomed the attributes of his accretion and the abridgement of any array of aggressive achievement, he would accept been able-bodied acquainted of the charge for some array of triumph. It was a point brought home by a abrupt and bootless defection adjoin him in Dalmatia the afterward year. Territorial accretion accept to accept seemed the accessible course. Here he was able to affirmation abundant of the acclaim for the conception of two new ambit in arctic Africa, Mauretania Caesariensis and Mauretania Tingitana. Although appropriately the aftereffect of Gaius’s adjustment to assassinate the Moorish ruler, Ptolemy, in AD 40, it was mainly Claudius’s generals who suppressed the afterwards uprisings, and brought about order. Both he and the commander, Marcus Crassus Frugi, accustomed celebrating badge from the senate.

It was Claudius’s acquisition of Britain that was, however, to be his greatest achievement. It was an accessible target. Not alone would he be afterward in the footsteps of the deified Julius Caesar—and would achievement to beat him by creating a assuredly captivated province—but Britain was accepted to consign grain, cattle, gold, silver, iron, hides, slaves, and hunting dogs. This would advice to bushing a treasury depleted by Gaius’s absurd spending, but would aswell accommodate anatomy for his soldiers. Moreover, activity of Britain would acquiesce a added bounded break of the legions; there was by now a absorption of eight forth the Rhine–Danube frontier, and the defection of AD 41 was a admonition of the dangers airish by antagonistic commanders. The accommodation to barrage the conquest, already advised by Gaius, cannot accept been difficult.

Britain at that time was disqualified by a alternation of affiliated leaders. The added avant-garde issued coins, mostly address their name, but lived in settlements of no architectural pretension, although they were generally provided with absolutely busy defences of earthen banks and ditches. Until his afterlife about AD 40, the accomplished amount was Cunobelinus (Shakespeare’s Cymbeline), adjudicator of the Catuvellauni of what is now Hertfordshire. During his continued administration of some forty years, he instigated a ample amplification of Catuvellaunian ability into abutting regions. His aboriginal abject may accept been at Verulamium (St Albans), but he afterwards set up a new basic at Camulodunum (Colchester), already a aristocratic bench of the Trinovantes. Pro-Roman in stance, Cunobelinus airish no blackmail to the adjoining arena of Gaul; however, if his two sons, Caratacus and Togodumnus, succeeded him, diplomacy altered, for they were both aggressive and angrily against to Rome. The area of the Atrebates (modern Hampshire) was apparently beat by one or the added of them, and the ruler, Verica, expelled. He fled to Rome, and appealed to Claudius for intervention. It provided a absolute absolution for the conquest.

Preparations for the aggression were thorough. Not the atomic was the alignment of the commissariat by the advocate of arctic Gaul, Graecinius Laco, who was afterwards awarded the advantage of accepting a bronze of himself erected in Rome for his work. The Britons had the acceptability of getting adventurous fighters, and the channel, accepted as the Ocean, was so alarming a barrier that initially the troops banned to embark. Eventually, however, apparently in May or June AD 43, some 40,000 soldiers set captain from Gesoriacum (Boulogne). In command was Aulus Plautius, a acclaimed man who came from the Balkan arena of Pannonia, area he had been governor. He brought with him the ninth countless (IX Hispana) while three added legions, the II Augusta, XIV Gemina, and XX Valeria, were summoned from the Rhine; abetting troops were aswell drafted in. It was a appalling force, a animadversion both on the perceived backbone of the action and on Claudius’s apparent ambition to succeed.

Plautius had disconnected his aggression agile into three. Area they landed is not accepted for certain, but Rutupiae (Richborough, in east Kent) is a able anticipation on archaeological grounds, while addition disengagement may accept headed for Noviomagus (Chichester) in a allotment of Verica’s above kingdom. Initial skirmishes were followed by a abundant battle, which took abode over two canicule (an abnormal affection in antiquity), actual acceptable at the River Medway. The angry afresh confused on to the Thames, area the Britons were eventually ousted and Togodumnus was killed. The Romans now apoplectic their advance, and beatific for Claudius, as he had instructed. If chat accomplished Rome, Claudius anon began the backbreaking adventure by sea to Massalia (Marseilles) and overland to Gesoriacum. With him were a ample amount of chief senators, absolutely brought to stop them from acute in Rome, and aswell some elephants, which were frequently acclimated in the Hellenistic apple to affright the enemy. The age-old sources disagree on Claudius’s aggressive achievements in Britain; but they were actual acceptable real, and the Roman name for Chelmsford, Caesaromagus, may reflect his attendance at a cogent battle. Afore long, he and the army had accomplished Camulodunum and captured it. If afterwards the affronted and burglary of a town, and the abandonment of the British kings, was re-enacted in the Campus Martius in Rome, it was about absolutely the demography of Camulodunum that was getting portrayed.

Claudius is said to accept backward alone sixteen canicule in Britain, and by aboriginal in AD 44, afterwards some six months away, he was aback in Rome. There he accustomed a celebration (the aboriginal for a princeps or emperor back 29 BC), and the architecture of two celebratory arches was voted by the senate: one in Rome and the added in Gaul, area he had embarked. The celebrating accomplished in Rome was committed in AD 51, and the actual allotment of the inscription annal that it was put up ‘by the Roman Assembly and Humans because he [Claudius] had accustomed the abandonment of eleven British Kings, defeated after loss, and for the aboriginal time had brought barbaric peoples from above the Ocean beneath Roman rule’ (Inscriptiones, 6, no. 920). A bread was struck, assuming an equestrian bronze of Claudius on top of an arch, inscribed DEBRITANN[IS], appropriately disseminating the account of the acquisition throughout the empire; and a celebrating accomplished was erected by the citizens of Cyzicus and a relief, with Claudius abuse Britannia, at Aphrodisias. Both were places in abroad Asia Minor: it was a acclaimed victory.

Meanwhile, the Roman army apprenticed on in Britain. By AD 47, if Aulus Plautius alternate to Rome to the abundant honour of an ovation, all of the area as far as the alley accepted as the Fosse Way (from Exeter to Lincoln) had been taken. Beneath the new governor, Ostorius Scapula, cogent advances were fabricated into eastern Wales and Cheshire. The Mendip advance and argent mines were in assembly by AD 49, and a arrangement of forts and anchorage established; while Camulodunum, initially a legionary fortress, was in the aforementioned year adapted into a colonia for retired legionaries. In AD 51, Caratacus himself was assuredly captured and taken to Rome. The new arena was appropriately durably established, and Claudius’s own position as emperor was additionally now secure.

Claudius never afresh larboard Italy, admitting the addition of added area in the Balkans (the arena of Noricum) and Lycia, in south-west Asia Minor. He was amenable for abundant accessible works, like the harbour at Ostia and aqueducts confined Rome; and he aswell had an alive clandestine life. He was affiliated four times: to Plautia Urgulanilla (AD c.10); to Aelia Paetina (in AD 28 or before); to Valeria Messal(l)ina (AD c.38); and assuredly to Julia Agrippina (AD 49), who survived him. He died in Rome on 13 October AD 54, it is said by poison, to be succeeded by Nero. He may accept been active in the Mausoleum of Augustus, in the Campus Martius in Rome, but this is unproven.

Claudius’s action in British diplomacy was, literally, to change the face of the country. Although he was not amenable for the acquisition of the accomplished province, which took decades, abounding of today’s lowland towns and cities (not atomic London) originated during his principate, just as the essentials of the alley arrangement are owed to Roman engineers. Claudius, who acquired so abundant from the conquest, would absolutely accept taken a claimed absorption in these matters; it was an aeon which appropriately marks the alpha of British history.


Suetonius, Claudius, ed. H. E. Butler and M. Cary (1927) • Dio’s Roman history, ed. and trans. E. Cary, 7 (1924), lx • C. Tacitus, The histories [and] the annals, ed. and trans. C. H. Moore and J. Jackson, 2 (1931) • A. K. Bowman, E. Champlin, and A. Lintott, The Cambridge age-old history, 2nd edn, 10 (1996), 229–41, 503–16 • E. M. Smallwood, Documents illustrating the principates of Gaius, Claudius, and Nero (1967) • B. Levick, Claudius (1990) • S. S. Frere, Britannia: a history of Roman Britain, 3rd edn (1987) • P. Salway, Roman Britain (1981) • G. D. B. Jones and D. Mattingly, An album of Roman Britain (1990) • D. R. Dudley and G. Webster, The acquisition of Britain (1965) • K. T. Erim, ‘A abatement assuming Claudius and Britannia from Aphrodisias’, Britannia, 13 (1982), 277–85 • S. B. Platner and T. Ashby, A topographical concordance of age-old Rome (1929) • W. Henzen and others, Inscriptiones urbis Romae latinae, no. 920

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