All About History

Agrippina The Most Extraordinary Woman of the Roman World

In 51 CE, Rome saw a sight it had never seen before. The sight came at the end of a grand parade through the streets of Rome designed to humiliate a captured enemy of the empire. The British rebel Caratacus had finally been caught and had been displayed with great pomp and circumstance to the Roman people and then, finally, he was to be presented at the feet of the emperor himself. But this time, for the first time in Rome’s 800-year history as a kingdom, then a republic, then an imperial centre, a woman sat beside the emperor. Agrippina Augusta sat on a dais beside her husband, Claudius, with the standards of the Roman army swaying in the breeze behind her. She was the first and only woman to sit as the empress of Rome, as her husband’s equal.

Julia Agrippina Augusta, more commonly remembered as Agrippina the Younger, was 36 years old on that day. She was twice widowed. She had been orphaned before she turned 16 and all five of her siblings had been murdered. Her third and final husband was the emperor Claudius and he was her father’s older brother. Just a decade previously, Agrippina had been living in exile. Her life was a rollercoaster of highs and lows but, in 51 CE, it was at its height. Agrippina was ruling the empire,

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