The Roman Emperors: Claudius

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Early Life and Accession of Claudius:

  • Born in Gaul on the1st August 10 BC
  • Father was Drusus (brother to Tiberius)
  • Father on campaign on German Border when he was born
  • Mother was Antonia
  • 2 Siblings (Germaincus and Livilla)
  • Father (Drusus) died a year after his birth
  • Raised by his mother Antonia
  • Disabled (weakness in his legs and speech impediment)
  • Was kept in the background due to his disability
  • Elder brother Germanicus took the political spotlight
  • Claudius devoted himself instead to his studies (one of his tutors was Livy)
  • Interested in history (began his own History of Rome)
  • Supposedly used his disability to his advantage (stayed out of the bitter rivalry within the imperial family and therefore kept himself alive)
  • Was not considerded a threat by the rest of the imperial family due to his disability
  • Was not really part of the Succession Crisis after the death of his uncle, Tiberius
  • Was not considered a successor to his young nephew Gaius (Caligula)
  • Did hold some offices (e.g. - he shared the consulship with Gaius), thgough these were more honourific than actual positions of power
  • Paretorian guard chose to elevate Claudius after the assassination of Gaius as he would make the perfect 'puppet ruler'

SOURCES ON CLAUDIUS' ACCESSION: SUETONIUS + CASSIUS DIO = LARGELY POSITIVE

Early Reign

  • Strong start as princeps/emperor
  • Naturally intelligent and sought the advice of close friends (e.g. - Herod Agrippa)

Importance of Herod Agrippa

  • Born in same year as Claudius (10 BC)
  • Grandson of Herod the Great
  • Father was killed
  • Herod sent to Rome for protection
  • Became long-standing friend/ally of Julio-Claudian family
  • Patronised by Tiberius
  • Good friend of Claudius from childhood
  • Encouraged him to take elevated status of emperor
  • Remained a close friend after Claudius' accession
  • Rewarded by Claudius with control of Judaea and Samaria

SOURCES ON HEROD AGRIPPA: ACTS CHAPTER 12 AND WRITINGS OF JOSEPHUS

Gaining Support

  • Once Claudius took power he attempted to gain support from different areas of Roman society

Senate + Equestrians (Upper Classes)

  • Gave more respect to senate
  • Increased status of senate
  • Ended the treason trials
  • Did not execute sdenbators involved in Gaius's assassination (showing greater clemency than Augustus)
  • Political exiles allowed to return
  • Did not prosecute those calling for the return of the Republic
  • Attempts to make government more senate-based

Praetorians + Army (The Military)

  • Praetorian Guards given a gifted of 15,000 sesterces each (given every year)
  • Began campaigns to expand empire to Mauretania and Britain (which not even Caesar managed)
  • Promoted effective generals in order to boost army morale

Plebians (Easier to plaese but still 80% of population)

  • Put on gladatorial games and other shows
  • Celebrated Secdular Games early (only 47 years since previous one held by Augustus/meant to be every 110 years)
  • Held a triumph for successes achieved in Britain
  • Claudius did not give these groups everything that they wanted, but he did enough to seem generous whilst still remaining rational.

Successes of Claudius:

  • Increased role of civil service in the administration of Rome
  • Took direct control of Rome's finances…

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