From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Claudius was considered a rather unlikely man to become emperor. He was reportedly afflicted with some type of disability, and his family had virtually excluded him from public office until his consulship with his nephew Caligula in AD 37. This infirmity may have saved him from the fate of many other Roman nobles during the purges of Tiberius' and Caligula's reigns. His very survival led to his being declared emperor after Caligula's assassination, at which point he was the last adult male of his family.
Despite his lack of political experience, Claudius proved to be an able administrator and a great builder of public works. His reign saw an expansion of the empire, including the conquest of Britain. He took a personal interest in the law, presided at public trials, and issued up to twenty edicts a day; however, he was seen as vulnerable throughout his rule, particularly by the nobility. Claudius was constantly forced to shore up his position—resulting in the deaths of many senators. Claudius also suffered tragic setbacks in his personal life, one of which may have led to his murder. These events damaged his reputation among the ancient writers. More recent historians have revised this opinion.