He was born in year 10, 134 of the Imperial system of dating. That is 10, 134 after the formation of the Spacing Guild and not Anno Domini. His father was Elrood Corrino IX, 80th Emperor of the House Corrino and ruler of the known to humanity universe. During his childhood, Shaddam became close friends with his maternal cousin Count Hasimir Fenring (10, 133 - 10, 225).
In year 10, 156, Shaddam succeeded his father as the 81st Emperor of the House Corrino. Reportedly, the young Emperor and Count Fenring were suspected of having poisoned Elrood IX. This however was merely speculated. According to Paul Atreides, Shaddam managed to secure his throne by providing the Spacing Guild with Melange from planet Arrakis and arranging his own marriage to a Bene Gesserit.
His marriage to Anirul Corrino (died in year 10, 176) resulted in the birth of five daughters:
The foundation of Shaddam's power at the time were considered to be the Sardaukar, his emperial army. However provisions for their training between years 10, 163 and 10, 193 steadily decreased. This was presumably a result of the reported rise of noble court expenses during the time.
The events of the original novel take place between years 10, 191 and 10, 193. The events were trigered by the Emperor himself. He reportedly felt threatened from reports about his cousin Leto Atreides , Duke of the House Atreides and his small army trained under Thufir Hawat, Gurney Halleck and Duncan Idaho. The army was stated to be well-trained enough to rival the Sardaukar. Concequently, the Emperor conspired with Vladimir Harkonnen, Baron of the House Harkonnen and longtime rival of Leto.
Leto was pressured to surrender his native planet Caladan to Vladimir and to receive in exchange Arrakis. Leto chose to obey his Emperor. He and most of his army were soon slain as a result of a combined invasion by Sardaukar and Harkonnen forces. The Emperor considered the threat posed by the House Atreides to have ended.The Emperor had actually not been informed that Lady Jessica, who was illegitimate daughter to Vladimir Harkonnen and consort to Leto Atreides, survived along with her son Paul Atreides. They were accepted by the Fremen and as a result of their skills would soon rise to their leadership.
By year 10, 193 Paul had managed to lead the Fremen in capturing most territories of Arrakis. As a result, the Fremen were able to threaten the melange trade. The Emperor and part of his army soon arrived to address this challenge. Shaddam would proove to be overconfident in the superiority of his forces over their enemy. Despite the advices of Vladimir Harkonnen, Shaddam only took minimal precautions for the possibility of an attack against them in the stated belief that the Fremen would not even dare to approach. The attack found them unprepared. The Fremen managed to slay most of the present Sardaukar. The Emperor and his escort had to surrender. He was brought to Paul. The victor proceeded in stating his terms. Already married to Chani of the Fremen, Paul demanded to receive Princess Irulan as a second wife and to be named heir to the throne. Shaddam had to aggree.
In 10, 196 he was effectively exiled to his ancestral planet of Salusa Secundus along with his four younger daughters and Count Fenring. This ended his reign of forty years. Princess Irulan was named Regent but her consort effectively acted as Emperor. Shaddam IV died in year 10, 202 after 68 years of life.