Antoninianus - IMP CLAUDIUS II
Marcus Aurelius Valerius Claudius
Emperor: A.D. 268-270
Obverse: Portrait radiate head right - IMP CLAVDIVS AVG
Reverse: Mars standing left holding branch and spear with shield at feet - VIRTVS AVG - E in field
Inscriptions: IMP(erator) CLAUDIUS AUG(ustus) / VIRTVS (Virtuous) AVG(ustorium)
Emperor Claudius Augustus / Virtuous Augustorium
Little, it seems, is know of the early life of the Emperor Claudius II. It isn't even clear exactly where he was born or whom his parents were. He may have been from the area of modern day Serbia, possibly Sirmium. It is known he had a brother Quintillus and he possibly had another brother Crispus. It was believed at the time, according to the Historiae Augustae, that he was a relative of Constantine I but there is no real proof of the validity of this assertion.
What is known is that he most likely spent some time in the military toiling in relative obscurity. There is little record of his early career until he is mentioned as serving under Gallienus as tribune commanding the soldiers stationed at Ticinum. The true circumstances of the death of Gallienus and the rise of Claudius II are unclear as most sources concerning this event are less than reliable. He was either named as the sucessor to Gallienus at the emperors death bed or was part of a plot to remove Gallienus from power. Regardless, Claudius takes the imperial power on the death of Gallienus in 268 A.D.
Like all emperors of this time period he came to rule over an empire in peril and immediately set to work confronting the enemies of Rome as well as personal enemies within the empire. After overcoming an early setback he defeated the Alamanni with the help of the general Aurelian. He was named Germanicus Maximus for his efforts.
He is best known for his role in the Gothic War in 269 when up to 320,000 men raided and terrorized Roman territory. Claudius and Aurelian took to the field to do battle in Rome's defense. In the end, the Goths lost 3,000 men to Aurelian's cavalry and another 50,000 to the army under Claudius who defeated the Goths at at Naissus in Moesia. He was seen as the savior of the Roman Empire earning the title Gothicus.
The Historiae Augustae describes Claudius as being tall, with fiery eyes, and so strong that he could knock out the teeth of man or beast with one punch.
In 270, two years into his promising reign, Claudius caught the plague and died at the age of 56. He left both his brother Quintillus and Aurelian to dispute the right to rule the empire. It is unclear whether Quintillus killed himself or was killed but he reigned for a matter of days, no more than a few months, before his death leaving the throne for Aurelian who would rule for the next 5 years.