Rome's early emperors were eager to pass their power to blood successors, though in practice this proved difficult. In this new and accessible book, Guy de la Bédoyère demonstrates just how much the line of succession to the principate depended on women (for all that this was obscured by the use of adoption).
Focusing on the Julio-Claudians, de la Bédoyère puts women front and centre, telling the history of the period through their biographies. As he shows, the expectations placed upon elite women in ancient Rome were impossible and often contradictory. Negotiating them took intelligence and strength of character. It is when Roman women breach convention that they most often appear in our male-authored primary texts.