Claudius' origin is uncertain. He was either from Sirmium (Syrmia; in Pannonia Inferior) or from Naissus Dardania(in Moesia Superior); both areas are located in Serbia.
Claudius was the commander of the Roman army that decisively defeated the Goths at the Battle of Naissus in September 268; in the same month, he attained the throne, amid charges, never proven, that he murdered his predecessor Gallienus. However, he soon proved to be less than bloodthirsty, as he asked the Roman Senate to
spare the lives of Gallienus' family and supporters. He was less
magnanimous toward Rome's enemies, however, and it was to this that he
owed his popularity.
Claudius, like Maximinus Thrax before
him, was of barbarian birth. After an interlude of failed aristocratic
Roman emperors since Maximinus's death, Claudius was the first in a
series of tough soldier-emperors who would eventually restore the Empire
from the Crisis of the third century.
Claudius as emperor
the time of his accession, the Roman Empire was in serious danger from
several incursions, both within and outside its borders. The most
pressing of these was an invasion of Illyricum and Pannonia by the Goths.
Not long after being named emperor (or just prior to Gallienus' death,
depending on the source), he won his greatest victory, and one of the
greatest in the history of Roman arms.
The Roman Empire in 268 A.D
At the Battle of Naissus, Claudius and his legions routed a huge Gothic army. Together with his cavalry commander, the future Emperor Aurelian,
the Romans took thousands of prisoners, destroyed the Gothic cavalry as
a force and stormed their laager (a circular alignment of wagons long
favored by the Goths). The victory earned Claudius his surname of
"Gothicus" (conqueror of the Goths), and that is how he is known to this
day. More importantly, the Goths were soon driven back across the Danube River, and a century passed before they again posed a serious threat to the empire.
While this was going on, the Germanic tribe known as the Alamanni had crossed the Alps and attacked the empire. Claudius responded quickly, routing the Alamanni at the Battle of Lake Benacus in the late fall of 268, a few months after the battle of Naissus. He then turned on the Gallic Empire, ruled by a pretender for the past fifteen years and encompassing Britain, Gaul, and the Iberian Peninsula.
He won several victories and soon regained control of Spain and the
Rhone river valley of Gaul. This set the stage for the ultimate
destruction of the Gallic Empire under Aurelian.
Claudius did not live long enough to fulfill his goal of reuniting all
the lost territories of the empire. Late in 269 he was preparing to go
to war against the Vandals, who were raiding in Pannonia. However, he fell victim to the Plague of Cyprian (possibly smallpox),
and died early in January 270. Before his death, he is thought to have
named Aurelian as his successor, although Claudius' brother Quintillus briefly seized power.
The Senate immediately deified Claudius as "Divus Claudius Gothicus".
Links to Constantinian dynasty
The Historia Augusta reports
Claudius and Quintillus having another brother named Crispus and
through him a niece. Said niece Claudia reportedly married Eutropius and
was mother to Constantius Chlorus. Historians however suspect this account to be a genealogical fabrication intended to link Constantine I's family to that of a well-respected emperor