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Aulus Plautius

(? - after 57 CE)

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Aulus Plautius was born in an unknown year as Aulus Plautius. He was a politician and an outstanding Roman leader. He became famous as the commander of the Roman army in the conquest of Britain in 43 CE and her first governor. Despite the fact that Plautius is an extremely interesting figure, the information about his life is very rudimentary and most of it has not survived to our times.

Little is known about Aulus’ early career. One of the inscriptions indicates that he was involved in suppressing the slave revolt in Puglia, probably in 24 CE, along with Marcus Aurelius Celer. In the second half of 29 CE he was a consul. At the beginning of his reign, Emperor Claudius (ca 41-43 CE) was governor of Pannonia and oversaw the construction of the road between Trieste and Rijeka.

Conquest of Britain

Claudius, wishing to gain the military credibility of his power, undertook an expedition to Britain in 43 CE. To this end, he sent Aulus Plautius at the head of 4 legions (IX Hispana, II Augusta, XIV Gemina and XX Valeria Victrix, plus about 20,000 auxiliary troops, including Thracians and Batavas) to Britain (Britannia), a land especially attractive because of its many mines and many slaves. Another reason for the invasion was the question of sheltering Gallic rebel groups on the island – thus they remained unpunished against Roman authorities. Aulus Plautius became the first governor of Britain in the aforementioned 43 CE. Other prominent politicians also took part in the invasion: Legio II Augustus was commanded by the future Emperor Vespasian; brother of VespasianTitus Flavius ​​Sabinus II; Gnaeus Hosidius Geta; and Gnaeus Sentius Saturninus.

Claudius only appeared on the island after he had finished making all plans for an offensive on the island. To increase the strength of his troops, he took with him reinforcements and specially imported from Africa, war elephants. Buoys fought on the island quickly brought results and after a few months – in 47 CE – the Senate guaranteed Claudius the right to triumph and Aulus the right to ovation.

Family ties

Aulus Plautius was married to Pomponia Grecina. In 57 CE Pomponia was accused of professing “foreign superstition”. Aulus then headed the domestic court, which tried the accused and issued an acquittal.

Plautius was (probably in a distant line) a relative of Claudius’ first wife, Plaucia Urgulanilla. Quintus Plautius, who was consul in 36 CE, was probably his younger brother. His sister, in turn, married Publius Petronius, and their (adopted?) son, Publius Petronius Turpilianus, later became Consul and Governor of Britain.

Plautius was probably the uncle of Plautius Lateranus, who in 48 CE. He was sentenced to death for an affair with Messalina (wife of Emperor Claudius). Not only did the execution take place thanks to the intercession of the “meritorious uncle”. Eventually, Lateranus was killed in 65 CE for conspiring against Emperor Nero. Then he could no longer count on the intercession of his uncle, who was probably dead.

He died after 57 CE.

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