Emperor Claudius, born in 10BC in Lugdunum (Lyons) Gaul (France) to the Claudii clan which was part of the imperial family. Claudius was born with a debilitating disease (Believed to be cerebral palsy). As a result he was shunned by most of his family. His father died while he was still a child. His mother did not care for him. In fact she would often comment that he was "An abortion half finished by mother nature." and his sister would often complain about him.
Despite all these domestic problems, Claudius grew up to become a well educated and intelligent man. He mastered Greek, Latin and was said to be the last person to speak Etruscan. He wrote many historical works (all of which are lost today) and also published a treatise on Latin and wrote an eloquent defense of the Republican lawyer Cicero. Yet despite his academic achievements, his family gave him no public position.
During the reign of Caligula (37-41) he kept his head low and feigned feeble mindedness and stupidity. He also had to put up with Caligula's cruel insults. (For example, Claudius was named consul alongside Caligula's horse, at banquets, Claudius would frequently fall asleep. Caligula would often then pelt Claudius with food to wake him up) However by the grace of God, Claudius survived while many members of the imperial family were murdered and executed. In 41 AD, during the feast of Calends (February) Caligula was stabbed by his bodyguards. The Praetorian guards who then went rampaging through the palace, found Claudius hiding behind a curtain and so named him emperor (Secular historians claim this was by chance but clearly this was God's will for him).
In 43, Claudius invaded Britain with 150,000 men. This act cemented his rule because he was loved by the people after this. He then put in place reforms to benefit the more unfortunate of people. He allowed men from Gaul to join the Senate and decreed that slaves that were sick could no longer be dumped at the temple of Aesclepius to be left for dead (an appaling practice). He also surrounded himself with advisors who were plebeians rather than the aristocrats.
Claudius's life was going well except for his wife Messalina. Messalina was a sexually promiscusous woman and an adulteress. (It was rumored that one night, Messalina competed with a prostitute to see how many sexual partners she could have in one night!) In 48AD, news reached Claudius that she had a lover and was plotting a coup against him. And so Claudius did what was the cruelest thing he had ever done: he had her put to death.
A few months went by and he married a new wife: Agrippina (his niece). She already had a son named Nero (The future emperor who would begin the persecution of Christians). The marriage went well until 54 when Agrippina convinced Claudius to name Nero as his heir rather than his other son Brittanicus (Claudius's son by Messalina). Following this, she served Claudius his favorite dish: mushrooms. There was just one thing: they were poisoned! Claudius died within hours.
A few months after Claudius's death, Brittanicus was poisoned at a banquet by order of Agrippina to cement Nero's rule.