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5.1 | Claudius As Emperor – Romans Stop Squabbling. A Bit.

Has Rome got actually got themselves a decent Roman Emperor? Not only an effective Emperor but one who doesn’t cause a civil war every 5 minutes? Don’t get too excited though, it wasn’t all beer and skittles in Claudius’ Rome.

 

Transcript – Claudius As Roman Emperor. The One With The Breath Of Fresh Air

 

Our last history of Britain episode we went over Claudius and what he wanted everyone to think was his invasion of Britain.

In this companion episode we ask ourselves can a Roman Emperor ever be anything other than a nightmare for the Romans? What sort of bloke gets married four times? And what’s wrong with the alphabet?

 

Part One – The Expansion

We know that Claudius came to become Emperor in slightly shady circumstances in 41 AD, and we know he sort of, but didn’t really, invade Britain in 43. He was Emperor until 54, so what was going on in the Empire in the 13 years he was in charge.

One thing he did was expand the empire, and not just trying to gain control of what is obviously the nicest bit of Europe, and by far the best island around. Mind you not much of his expansions had the same drama as with the Britons.
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5 | Claudius Invades Britain- Romans Finally Get Around To Britain

There is a new emperor in town, and Claudius wants a piece of Britain. Finally. We were starting to think it was something we said. So why did Claudius finally get it done properly? How did he get it done? Was he a master of PR?

Transcript – Claudius Invades Britain. The One Where They Finally Get It Done.

 

 

By this point in our history of Britain, the Romans have been thinking about taking over the British Isles for nearly 100 years. We’ve had Julius Caesar turning up in Britain, as a proper token effort, to make people think he was doing important stuff. We’ve had Augustus putting us on a to do list, with the best of intentions, but ultimately being distracted by something shiny. Then we have had Caligula looking like he was going to achieve something, but really being too shit. Anyone who has ever had an office job will completely understand.

 

This week we ask ourselves, why would Romans bother with Britain? what can a physically disabled bloke can do to look hard? And is the only way to deal with bullies really to stand up with them?
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4.1 | Rome Between Julius Caesar And Claudius – Early Empire Teething Problems

 

Julius died and left the place in disarray. Octavian picks up the pieces and treats Rome to yet another civil war or two. The folk who survive that, have to put up with a bad paranoid emperor and a bad mentally unstable emperor. It’s all gone to shit.

 

 

Transcript – Rome Between Julius and Claudius

 

When Julius Caesar died it kicked off a problem that hasn’t really been a massive issue in Rome for a while. Who was meant to be in charge now? In theory, when Rome was a Republic, the Consuls ran the place. They only had the job for a year, and if they died they could just wait until another one was elected. In the meantime, there were always two consuls, so there was a handy spare. When they became the Roman Empire, the logic was that there would already be an heir in place so everyone knew who that would be. It wasn’t always that simple, as we will find out in later episodes, but that was the theory. Julius kicked off a weird in-between period, where it wasn’t too obvious what was happening. He made himself dictator, and technically he was elected, so couldn’t just pick the next bloke to run the place. He had adopted his great-nephew as his heir, so if anyone should be in charge maybe it would be him. Not everyone agreed with that, so there was some conflict. Not that there was any need for extra tensions. Octavian, as Julius’ heir, was a little peeved at the blokes who had killed his adopted dad. Which is fair. The self-styled liberators were also a little worried about Octavian since he was candidate number one for carrying on with the dictatory approach Julius had taken. Which is why they had killed him in the first place.    
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4 | Britain Between Julius Caesar And Claudius – No one Invades

Julius left Britain after invading twice and he didn’t come back. What happened in the place after that? It’s all a bit fuzzy, but one thing we can know is that no bugger did any exciting invading. Find out how exactly they didn’t invade here.

Transcript – Britannia after Julius Caesar

 

This episode spans from 54 BC all the way to 40 AD, a mere 86 years, but is very very short. You can’t ignore that this could be because we are lazy, our excuse is that there wasn’t very much written down about what was going on in Britain. As we have mentioned before the Celts were not big on writing and for the Romans, Britain was still an island at the edge of the world. They had more important stuff to be worried about. Julius Caesar had invaded Britain, twice. And claimed victory, twice. When he left the second time, he didn’t return. It’s not easy to figure out what Julius plan for Britain had been. Were his two visits just a couple of quick expeditions to slap down some local nuisances and impress the folk back in Rome? Or was it meant to be the first moves to create a new province?  If you caught our last companion episode, you will remember that Julius got a bit busy after 54 BC, with some Civil Wars and Dictatorships to be running. So maybe he did have grand plans for Britain, but he just didn’t get round to it?
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3.1 | The End Of The Roman Republic – Long Live The Emperor

What happened to Julius and the Roman Republic after he invaded Britain? Quite a lot. Including a few civil wars and a shiny new Empire.

Transcript – The End Of The Roman Republic

 

We have spent a couple of episodes of our History of Britain with Julius Caesar. He features a bit in British history, but he was a bit more important for Rome. He was a massive nail in the coffin of the Roman Republic and brought about the Roman Empire. It doesn’t sound like a massive difference, but if you think about how that would go down now you get a better picture of it.

The Roman Republic was ran a bit similar to a modern democracy. There was the Consuls, who were like Presidents or Prime Minister, the Senate who were like an Upper House similar to the American Senate and Assemblies where normal folk could get involved, like the House of Commons. In theory, this meant that Rome was run by its people. The move to an Empire meant that the place was run by one bloke, no matter how mad he was. Our politicians may be arseholes, but they are the arseholes we picked.
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