Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus
Born: 1 August, 10 BC
Dead: 13 October, 54 AD
Reign: 41-54 AD
Claudius was a Roman emperor who ruled from 41 to 54 AD.
A Roman emperor and, according to Geoffrey, is the father of Genvissa, whom is considered to be a fictional figure, due to the fact that she is not mentioned in any genuine Roman history.
According to Geoffrey’s narrative, Emperor Claudius gave Genvissa in marriage to the British king Arviragus. This story is part of Geoffrey’s broader narrative about the legendary kings and events that supposedly shaped early British history.
Claudius was born on August 1, 10 BC, in Lugdunum (modern-day Lyon, France). He belonged to the Julio-Claudian dynasty, being the son of Nero Claudius Drusus, a prominent general, and Antonia Minor, the niece of Emperor Augustus.
Claudius had physical disabilities, including a limp and a pronounced tremor. These conditions likely contributed to his family’s perception of him as less capable, and he was often marginized within the imperial family.
Accession to the Throne and Reign
Claudius became emperor unexpectedly. After the assassination of his nephew Caligula in 41 AD, the Praetorian Guard found Claudius hiding behind a curtain and proclaimed him emperor. This was largely due to his perceived vulnerability. Despite initial doubts about his competence, Claudius proved to be a capable ruler. His reign saw the conquest of Britain in 43 AD, and the expansion of the Roman Empire. He also initiated several public works projects.
Conquest of Britain | 43 AD
Prior to Claudius’s reign, there had been limited Roman expeditions to Britain, but no permanent occupation. Julius Caesar had made two expeditions in 55 and 54 BC, but these were more exploratory in nature. Claudius, upon becoming emperor in 41 AD, sought military successes to solidify his position. The opportunity to achieve this came with the political instability in Britain.
Claudius appointed Aulus Plautius, a trusted general, to lead the Roman invasion of Britain. Plautius was given command of four legions and additional auxiliary forces. The invasion force consisted of the Legio II Augusta, Legio IX Hispana, Legio XIV Gemina, and Legio XX Valeria Victrix, along with auxiliary troops.
While Claudius himself did not personally lead the invasion, he did arrive in Britain soon after the initial military campaigns began to witness the victory and celebrate a triumph. The initial campaigns involved battles with local Celtic tribes, particularly the Catuvellauni led by King Caratacus. The Romans faced resistance but gradually advanced.
The Romans captured the Celtic stronghold of Camulodunum (modern-day Colchester) and established it as a Roman colony. Following the Roman conquest, there was a rebellion led by Queen Boudica of the Iceni in 60-61 AD. This uprising temporarily threatened Roman control but was eventually surpressed.
The Romans established control over southeastern Britain, and the region became a Roman province known as Britannia. Roman towns, roads, and infrastructure were developed, contributing to the Romanization of the area. The conquest of Britain under Claudius had long-term implications for the Roman Empire. Britain remained a Roman province until the withdrawal of Roman forces in the early fifth century AD.
Tacitus, a Roman historian, provides an account of the Roman conquest of Britain in his work Agricola and briefly mentions it in the Annals.
Claudius enacted legal reforms, including the extension of Roman citizenship to some provinces and the granting of certain rights to freed slaves. He also reformed the judicial system.
Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium
Claudius founded the Roman colony of Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, modern-day Cologne in Germany, where he spent part of his youth.
Marriages and Descendants
Claudius had several marriages, including to Messalina, who was implicated in a conspiracy against him and subsequently executed. His fourth and final wife was Agrippina the Younger, who was instrumental in securing the throne for her son Nero.
Death and Legacy
Claudius died on October 13, 54 AD. There are theories suggesting that he may have been poisoned, possibly by Agrippina to ensure the succession of her son Nero. Claudius is often remembered as a competent administrator and military leader, despite initial perceptions of his incapacity. His reign contributed to the stability and expansion of the Roman Empire.
The primary historical accounts of Claudius’s life comes from Roman historians such as Tacitus, Suetonius, and Cassius Dio.
Historia Regum Britanniae | Geoffrey of Monmouth, c. 1138