The first 5 emperors of the Roman Empire all came from the same imperial family. This family descended from Julius Caesar and included all the major politicians of the early Roman Empire. Today historians call this line of related emperors the Julio Claudian Dynasty.
Out of the Julio Claudian Dynasty came the first 5 emperors of the Roman Empire.
- Augustus: reigned from 27 BC up to 14 AD
- Tiberius: reigned from 14 AD up to 37 AD
- Caligula: reigned from 37 AD up to 41 AD
- Claudius: reigned from 41 AD up to 54 AD
- Nero: reigned from 54 AD up to 68 AD
Each one of these emperors were massively different from each other. Only two of the 5 would be good emperors while the other 3 ranged from ok to just plain horrible.
This article goes over each of these 5 Roman emperors from the Julio Claudian Line. Beneath each section is a further reading section where you can see the crazy life of each of these 5 men.
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Without further ado, here are the 5 Roman emperors of the Julio Claudian Dynasty.
|Born||23rd September, 63 BC|
|Died||19 August, 14 AD|
|Famous Quote||“Practice, the master of all things.”|
|Known For||First Emperor of the Roman Empire, Taxation based on population, creation of many civic liberties.|
|Area Of World||Europe, Italy, Rome|
|Further Reading||Augustus: 3 Greatest Accomplishments Of Rome’s First Emperor|
The first Roman emperor was Augustus who ruled from 27 BC up to 14 AD. This was not only one of the most prosperous times for the Roman Empire, it was also one of the most peaceful.
For nearly 100 years the Roman people suffered under several civil wars and political conspiracies. Augustus would unite the Roman people into the Roman Empire and bring in a period of peace and prosperity.
Today historians attribute 3 major accomplishments to Augustus. First, he created a unified police and fire force in the city of Rome. Second, he unified all the Roman provinces into one imperial state. Third, Augustus radically changed how the Roman economy worked.
In the city of Rome Augustus recognized the need for more civilian infrastructure to combat the ailments of a growing civilization. Augustus would perform the first census of the Roman population and figure out that in the city of Rome there were between 3-4 million people.
This meant that both crime and fire posed a significant problem for the early Empire. Augustus would combat both of these by creating the Vigiles which served to protect the city from both enemies as well as natural disasters.
Augustus also linked Rome’s varying provinces together to create a quasi city-state that could be called a nation. During the time of Augustus across the provinces we can see state sanctioned imperial propaganda being used to unite the people of Rome.
However, in order to fund his growing empire Augustus would have to change how the economy functioned. As emperor he would streamline the taxation process making it more efficient as well as pay pensions towards military veterans.
After this Augustus would encourage trade. From 15 BC up through the end of the reign of Augustus the Mediterranean would see an explosion in mercantile ships.
As such Augustus was one of the few good emperors of the 5 from the Julio Claudian Dynasty.
|Born||16th of November, 42 BC|
|Died||16th of March, 37 AD|
|Famous Quote||“It is the duty of a good shepherd to shear his sheep, not to skin them.”|
|Known For||Successful military campaigns in northern Rome, making the Roman state very wealthy, focused upon the diplomacy and strengthening of the domestic Roman state.|
|Region of World||Rome, Italy, 1st Century AD|
|Further Reading||Emperor Tiberius: His 3 Major Accomplishments As Emperor|
The second emperor of Rome and the Julio Claudian Dynasty was Emperor Tiberius. Tiberius would reign from 14-37 AD.
Tiberius today is remembered as an ok emperor who retreated from the public eye towards the end of his life. He would leave his praetorian prefect Sejanus in charge of running the Empire which resulted in Sejanus attempting to consolidate power around himself.
The reason that Tiberius withdrew from the politics of the city of Rome was because he never wanted to be emperor. Augustus’s son was supposed to succeed Augustus to the throne but in 9 AD the heir Nero Claudius Drusus died.
Augustus, who was in failing health, had to move fast to secure a viable heir to the Roman Empire. He found this in his able commander and friend Tiberius. However, Tiberius hated politics and just wanted to retire into private life.
Augustus persisted and Tiberius became the heir to the Roman Empire. He was an ok emperor that was known for his gloomy nature. He would seclude himself on the island of Capri south of Rome.
Even away from Rome Tiberius accomplished 3 main things over the course of being Emperor. First, Tiberius would engage in several large scale building projects. Second, Tiberius instituted a formalized Imperial Cult with its own priesthood. Third, Tiberius dramatically expanded the Empire’s fortifications and economy.
Other than that Tiberius lived out his days in his seaside villa away from the politics of Rome.
As such the second emperor of Rome and the Julio Claudian Line was emperor Tiberius.
|Born||31st of August, 12 AD|
|Died||24th of January, 41 AD|
|Famous Quote||“A man ought to be either frugal or Caesar.”|
|Known For||Built several large scale public structures, lavish display of gladiatorial games, and annexing the kingdom of Mauretania as a Roman province|
|Region of World||Rome, Italy, 1st century AD|
|Further Reading||Caligula: 3 Reasons He Is Known As The Mad Emperor|
The third emperor of the Roman Empire and the Julio Claudian Line was Caligula. This emperor was one of the worst Roman emperors of all time, earning him the nickname of the ‘mad’ emperor.
Caligula represented a drastic departure from the hands off approach of Tiberius towards politics of the state. Caligula had to be involved in every part of the Roman state and he was infatuated with himself.
The Roman Emperor Tiberius had saved up a massive amount of wealth over the course of his reign. It is estimated that Caligula inherited a lump sum of around 3 million Roman sesterces or about $5 billion in today’s money.
On top of this Caligula had command over the entire Roman state treasury.
This gave Caligula access to considerable wealth. Which Caligula used to finance a series of extremely lavish building projects designed to demonstrate his grandeur.
Caligula only reigned for about 5 years before being eliminated by the Roman senate who were about to be bankrupted by the spending spree of Caligula. Still within 5 years Caligula had almost financially ruined the whole of the Roman Empire.
Below is a list of his most famous exploits over his short 5 year reign.
- Building a 2 mile man made bridge across the bay of Baiae using stolen grain ships on their route to feed the people of Rome causing mass starvation.
- Building two massive aqueducts that stretched for over 43 miles.
- Attempting to build a massive city to rival Rome high up in the Alps.
- Giving his horse a marble stable, purple toga, and threatening to have it seated as the leading senator of Rome.
- Referring to himself in 3rd person and dressing up as a Roman God.
- Knocking the heads of religious statues in Rome and putting copies of his head on instead.
- Having armies march to the English channel and collect seashells to display his conquering of the sea.
The list goes on and on. Caligula had a dark sense of humor, even for the Romans. There are horrendous stories of the stuff Caligula would do to people just to laugh.
It did not take long however for the Roman Senate to organize a plot to have him removed from power. Caligula was not a good emperor of Rome.
However, he remains the 3rd Emperor of both Rome and the Julio Claudian Dynasty.
|Born||1st of August, 10 BC|
|Died||13th of October, 54 AD|
|Famous Quote||“Say not always what you know, but always know what you say.”|
|Known For||Rapid expansion of the Empire, restructured Roman legal system, completed several large scale building projects|
|Region of World||Rome, Italy, 1st century AD|
|Further Reading||Emperor Claudius: 3 Reasons Why He Was A Good Emperor|
The 4th Roman Emperor of the Julio Claudian Dynasty was probably one of the best emperors Rome will ever see; his name was Claudius and he had a crippling physical disability.
Claudius was born with a deformity that made it so he could not walk for very long. Further, he had little control over his muscles and was very weak. However, Claudius was exceptionally intelligent.
When the rest of the Imperial family shunned Claudius Augustus noticed that the young boy was incredibly smart. Augustus had the famous Roman historian Livy begin to teach Claudius Roman law, history, and rhetoric.
Livy was very kind to Claudius and helped foster a lifelong habit of learning, writing, and research. When Caligula was removed by the Roman senate the praetorian guard found their new emperor in the now 50 year old Claudius.
Both the praetorian guard and the Roman senate were ok with Claudius becoming emperor as they thought they could control him. However this was far from the case.
Almost immediately Claudius began to actually administer the Empire. He rapidly expanded the economy of the empire by annexing several border provinces. Returned the senatorial provinces that were taken under Caligula. Successfully captured modern England. Restructured the Roman legal system and expanded the imperial bureaucracy, and undertook a series of large scale building projects to benefit the Roman people.
Even though Claudius was incapable of performing any physical tasks he utilized his intelligence and education to drastically increase the power of the Roman Empire.
Simply put, Claudius was one of only two good Roman emperors from the Julio Claudian Dynasty.
As such, Claudius was both the 4th Roman Emperor and the 4th one from the Julio Claudian Dynasty.
|Born||15th of December, 37 AD|
|Died||9th of June, 68 AD|
|Famous Quote||“What an artist the world loses in me.”|
|Known For||Publicly appearing as an entertainer, burning Rome for his palace, financially ruining Rome from a series of games and races.|
|Region of World||Rome, Italy, 1st century AD|
|Further Reading||Emperor Nero: The 3 Reasons Nero Was Bad For Rome|
In 54 AD Claudius would be poisoned by Nero’s mother. The next in line to be Roman Emperor was Nero who over the course of this 13 year reign would almost destroy the Roman Empire and destroy the Julio Claudian Dynasty.
Emperor Nero was a horrendous emperor when compared to Claudius. Nero would slowly overtime begin to get rid of his ‘advisors’ including his mother and the Roman statesmen Seneca.
Once Nero finally had absolute control over the Roman state he began to completely destroy it in three major ways.
First, Nero would destroy the integrity of the Imperial Household by performing publicly as a musician or actor. This was seen as highly interior for a Roman politician to do. Entertainers in Roman society were seen as one of the lowest classes in the Roman social hierarchy.
Second, Nero burned down between 30-40% of Rome to build his new imperial palace. In the summer heat of 64 AD Nero is credited with starting a fire that would destroy the entire southern half of the city of Rome. This fire burned for around 10 days and at the end the entire market and most of the lower class houses were burned down.
Third, in order to pay for the destruction caused by the Great Fire of Rome Nero would increase taxes across the provinces and begin to devalue the currency. This put the empire on a crash course with falling in the mid 4th/5th century. This was because over the next couple centuries subsequent emperors would begin to devalue the currency to the point of near worthlessness.
However, Nero does stand as the 5th emperor of Rome and the 5th emperor to come from the Julio Claudian Dynasty.
There you have it; an entire article on the 5 Roman Emperors of the Julio Claudian Dynasty.
This list of 5 Roman emperors is fascinating to study. Most Roman emperors over the course of the Empire were ok. However, two of the Julio Claudian emperors were by far the worst to have ever existed in the Roman Empire; Caligula and Nero. Paradoxically, two of the best Roman Emperors to have ever existed come from the Julio Claudian Dynasty; Augustus and Claudius. Tiberius was just ok.
Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet. If you enjoyed this article then consider subscribing to the free newsletter and sharing around the internet.
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