• Imagining History

Emperor Claudius and his Invasion of Britain - Useful Info for KS2 Students

Updated: Apr 27

Invaded Britain: in 43AD.

Why did Claudius invade Britain? It likely had nothing to do with gaining more land to add to the Roman Empire. Instead, Claudius was under intense pressure as a new emperor. His predecessor, the mad and very bad Caligula, had made an absolute mess of things and Claudius needed a quick win to show everyone that he had what it took to be an awesome Emperor. What better way to do that than a military victory which would make everyone proud to be Roman?

Even better for Claudius, if he successfully invaded Britain then he would have achieved a feat that even the great Julius Caesar had failed to do. If Claudius messed the invasion up though... well, his time as Emperor would soon be over!

What happened? In short: His strong and tremendously large army quickly conquered the South East of Britain and eleven local tribes surrendered to him. The Roman Army got the ball rolling by defeating the Catuvellauni, who was the dominant tribe in the South East. They then successfully invaded Camulodunum, the enemy capital. However, it took many decades until all of England was under Roman rule as the tribes kept on fighting.

Why was he successful? Claudius was better prepared than Julius Caesar before him. He assembled a massive army of 40,000 men with War Elephants & War Machines.

Did he stay? Claudius stayed in Britain for a grand total of 16 days before returning to Rome. His work was done, he had, through his military victory, made it clear he was a competent Emperor. So, Claudius left but the Roman army was here to stay. They conquered the majority of England and Wales and didn't leave until 410AD!

What happed to Claudius in the end? Claudius ruled as Emperor for almost 14 years which was an impressive inning. Still, Claudius struggled to please the Senate, many senators tried to rebel against Claudius in a series of revolts, conspiracies, and coups. None were successful, however - Claudius was kept mighty busy having all of his enemies executed.

However, eventually, Claudius popped his sandals. It was likely that he was poisoned, possibly by his wife, Agrippina, who may have wanted to off her hubbie so her son, Nero, could rule instead. How did she poison him? Sources vary but the poison may have been on a mushroom or a feather. Quite how you poison someone with a feather is beyond us, tickle their face and just hope they accidentally swallow some poison maybe?


Further Reading

We found the following books very handy in researching this article. If you'd like to learn more about the Romans then they are well worth a look.

For Teens and Adults:

24 Hours in Ancient Rome by Dr Philip Matyszak

Why we like it:

A really interesting book that charts 24 hours in Ancient Rome. Each hour follows another inhabitant of this iconic city; from gladiators to watchmen and astrologers.

For Children:

Ancient Romans (Lift-the-flap History) by Imagine That

Why we like it:

What's better than learning about history? Why, lifting book flaps whilst you do it of course! There's a hundred facts to learn and fifty flaps to lift in this book, plenty to keep you occupied.

For Adults:

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard

Why we like it:

It's an epic read but this classic by Mary Beard has everything you ever needed or wanted to know about Ancient Rome.

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