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CLAUDIUS

Claudius (10 BC - AD 54) was a Roman nobleman who became emperor after his nephew Caligula was assassinated in AD 41. Claudius himself had escaped political assassination only because his physical disabilities, including a stutter, made people think he was an imbecile with no real chance of taking power. In fact he was unusually learned and proved one of Rome's ablest emperors, presiding over a programme of public works and important administrative reforms.

In 43 a massive Roman force invaded Britain, and reached the River Thames. Emperor Claudius came from Gaul (France) with reinforcements, and conquered Colchester, the main British town. He accepted the surrender of several British rulers. The Romans came to control the whole island south of Scotland. To 'Romanize' it, they encouraged wealthy locals to build Roman-style towns, learn Latin, and use Roman law and money. The occupying army built the first effective road system. Many army officers and officials settled in Britain, and built villas.

Claudius was poisoned in AD 54 by his fourth wife, Agrippina, so that her son Nero could take the throne.

The story of Claudius was told by Robert Graves in the best-selling biographical novels, I, Claudius and Claudius the God, both of which were published in 1934.



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