Julio Claudian

The Julio Claudian period was the time of the Roman Empire when it was ruled by emperors from the Julius or Claudius families.

This was the time of the first five Roman Emperors: Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD), Tiberius (14 AD – 37 AD), Caligula (37 AD – 41 AD), Claudius (41 AD – 54 AD) and Nero (54 AD – 68 AD).

None of the Julio Claudians were succeeded by their son. They all adopted heirs who they thought the senate would approve of to be emperor, so that nobody tried to overthrow them.

The choice of heir meant there was lots of plotting between the aristocracy. The period ended with Nero, who committed suicide without having a family to continue the line.


Augustus was the first emperor of Rome. He ended civil war and brought about the Pax Romana (time of Roman Peace).

During Augustus’s rule, there were no major wars or economic problems.

He created a standing Roman army to defend the city permanently, improved the roads and rebuilt the towns destroyed in the civil war.


Tiberius was a generally good emperor but was untrusted by the senate. He stopped rebellions in Germania and kept the Empire borders safe.

When his son died, Tiberius withdrew from public life and left the senate to run the Roman Empire without him.


Caligula started as a good emperor, reducing taxes and giving soldiers more money. However, he became seriously ill and this turned him mad.

Caligula thought he was a god and became tyrannical, killing anyone who threatened his rule.

He was assassinated by his guards, along with his wife and daughter, after he tried a lot of senators for treason.


Claudius was a conqueror. He started the invasion and conquest of Britain and brought many smaller provinces into the Empire.

He also built a lot of Roman infrastructure, including roads, canals and aqueducts for transporting water.


Nero was the final emperor in the Julio Claudian period. He is one of the most famous Roman Emperors because he was insane.

He had hundreds of people killed because they didn’t agree with him or he didn’t like their religion.

He even killed his own mother! He committed suicide when the senate tried to have him executed.The year after Nero was called the year of the four emperors.

This was a year of civil war and hardship while people fought to claim the title of emperor for themselves, as Nero had not chosen an heir.

Four different emperors ruled in succession: Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian. They fought between each other until Vespasian successfully held onto the position, ruling as emperor for 10 years.

Facts about Julio Claudian

  • The Julio Claudian period was the rule of the Roman Empire by the first five emperors.
  • None of the emperors had legitimate male sons who succeeded them – they chose their own heirs.
  • Augustus was the first Roman Emperor and brought 40 years of peace to Rome.
  • Tiberius was untrusted by the senate and left most of his rule to other people to do.
  • Caligula went mad after an illness, killing anyone who threatened his position.
  • Claudius expanded the empire, conquering Britain and other provinces.
  • Nero was insane and killed hundreds because they didn’t agree with him on the smallest things.
  • The year of the four emperors occurred after Nero died until Vespasian became emperor.

Questions :

  • How long did the Julio Claudian period last
    From the start of Augustus’s rule in 27 BC to the end of Nero’s in 68 AD – 95 years!
  • Why did the emperors choose their heirs so carefully?
    They wanted the senate to approve of their choice of heir, so nobody overthrew them.
  • Why was Augustus such a good emperor?
    Augustus ended the civil war going on and brought 40 years of peace, stability and money.
  • What was the year of the four emperors?
    Four different emperors ruled in the year after Nero’s death, as there was a civil war and so not much food or money for the people.