- For other Romans named Claudius see Claudius (gens).
The son of Drusus and Antonia Minor, Claudius married four times, to Plautia Urgulanilla, then to Aelia Paetina, then to Messalina, whom he ordered to be put to death about ten years later. His last wife, his niece Agrippina, daughter to Germanicus and Agrippina the Elder, reputedly killed him by poisoning some mushrooms he ate. He is known for having a stammer.
With Messalina he had two children: Britannicus (c.39 - AD 55), who might have been fathered by Caligula, and Octavia (c.41 - AD 62), who married her own step-brother, Agrippina's son, the Emperor Nero.
Claudius was considered a rather unlikely man to become emperor. He is the only scholar to ever wear the purple. His stutter and lameness had caused him to be largely overlooked in the purges that had filled Tiberius's and Caligula's reigns. After Caligula was assassinated, the soldiers were desperate to find any remaining member of the Julio-Claudian family to fill the throne. Most of them had been murdered long before, Claudius having been ignored because most did not consider him a serious contender. Although Claudius had not intended to be emperor, he did better than most. He had a great eye for legal detail, and under his rule Britannia was added to the empire.
Caligula (37 - 41)
Nero (54 - 68)