The Julio-Claudian Era in the history of the Roman Empire is the period when the empire was ruled by members of two families closely connected by political marriages, the Julians and the Claudians. These formed the very first dynasty of Romam emperors, and saw the transition from republican government to the imperial system. Its members are by far the most well-known emperors, and even today most of their names are still familiar to the general public - often for reasons of tyranny and madness (though this is most certainly unfair on some of them).
- Julius Caesar, ruled Rome as dictator 46-44 BC
- (restored republican government) 44-27 BC
- Augustus, first true emperor 27 BC-14 AD, great nephew of Julius Caesar
- Tiberius, emperor 14-37 AD, son of Augustus's wife Livia, a Claudian
- Caligula, emperor 37-41 AD, grandson of Tiberius's brother Drusus
- Claudius, emperor 41-54 AD, uncle of Caligula
- Nero, emperor 54-68 AD, son of Claudius's wife Agripina
All of these are famous for different reasons. Julius Caesar is remembered as a great military leader, Augustus as the first and greatest emperor, Tiberius as a paranoid recluse, Caligula as an insane madman, Claudius as a plodding academic, and Nero as a tyrannical persecutor. Conceivably the most dysfunctional family in history, they have also probably been the most influential, totally changing the course of Western Civilisation.
The Julio-Claudian Era came to and end when Nero was declared a public enemy by the Senate, fled Rome, and finally killed himself. There followed a further bout of civil wars, similar to those which had brought Caesar to power in the first place, but the office of emperor, created by the Julio-Claudians, survived. Never again would the Romans elect their rulers.