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Ancient marble bust of Claudius

Claudius (Latin: Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 1 August 10 BC – 13 October 54 AD) was the fourth Roman emperor. He reigned from 41 to 54. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul, the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy. Because he was afflicted with a limp and slight deafness due to sickness at a young age, his family did not want him. He was excluded from public office until his consulship, shared with his nephew Caligula in 37.

Claudius' infirmity probably saved him from the fate of many other nobles during the purges of Tiberius and Caligula's reigns. Potential enemies did not see him as a serious threat. He was declared Emperor by the Praetorian Guard after Caligula's assassination. He was then the last man of his family.

Despite his lack of experience, Claudius was an able and efficient administrator. He was also an ambitious builder, constructing many new roads, aqueducts, and canals across the Roman Empire. During his reign the Empire began the conquest of Britain (if the earlier invasions of Britain by Caesar are not counted). Having an interest in law, he presided at public trials, and issued up to twenty edicts a day.

He was seen as vulnerable throughout his reign, especially by men of the nobility. Claudius was constantly forced to maintain his position. This resulted in the deaths of many senators. Many writers say that he was murdered by his own wife. After his death in 54 (at age of 63), his grand-nephew and adopted son Nero followed him as Emperor.

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