Gaius Caesar was the third emperor of the Roman Empire. He was born in 12 AD to Germanicus, the military general and adopted son of Emperor Tiberius.
However, Germanicus did not become emperor because he died before Tiberius.
Some historians think that Tiberius poisoned Germanicus because they were political rivals.
Gaius Caesar was nicknamed Caligula. This nickname came from the soldiers in his father’s army.
He would follow his father through the army camps in Germania and the soldiers called him Caligula, meaning ‘little soldier’s boots’ in Latin.
Caligula’s mother was Agrippina. She had a feud with Tiberius after Germanicus’s death and was banished, along with his siblings.
Caligula was sent to live with Tiberius, as Tiberius hoped this would prove how dangerous the family was.
However, Caligula proved himself to be a good politician and Tiberius named him as his heir.
When Tiberius died in 37 AD, Caligula was named Emperor. At first, he was loved by everyone from all classes of society.
They nicknamed him ‘our baby’ and ‘our star’ because he was the son of the popular Germanicus.
The people loved Caligula. He gave soldiers and guards more money. He recalled people who were exiled by Tiberius unjustly and banished people who repeatedly broke the law.
He also put on extravagant games and helped the poor who were struggling with money by reforming the tax system.
Six months into his rule, Caligula became seriously ill. Some thought that this illness caused a dramatic personality change.
He wandered the palace at night, wore silk gowns instead of togas which showed his rank and complained of constant headaches.
Caligula also began to think that he was a god, making people in Rome worship him.
He built a bridge between the palace and the Temple of Jupiter so he could easily talk to the other gods. He also appointed a horse as a priest!
Caligula became tyrannical. He started to kill people who he thought threatened his rule – he killed them on the streets or using poison.
He exiled those who he thought might be useful later on but were dangerous now.
He also ordered many investigations into senators to check if they were trustworthy and loyal, putting them on trial for potential treason.
By this point, the Romans hated him. There were lots of plots to assassinate him, involving soldiers, senators and family.
In 41 AD, Caligula was killed by his guards after going to watch sports. He was stabbed 30 times and his wife and daughter also killed.
Straight away, the senate destroyed as many of his statues as possible to try to forget his rule of Rome.