The History of China

By Chris Stewart

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Subscribers: 1335
Reviews: 5

Bruce Wayne
 Nov 18, 2020
Great podcast on Chinese history with engaging narrative style and excellent production value

 Sep 4, 2020
Binged them all. Clear audio 99%. Great voice including what I can only assume is good Chinese. At times author gets into wonderful detail about life in the past. Well done mate.

 Feb 26, 2020
amazing podcast with heaps of detail. only gets better as it goes!

 Mar 27, 2019

 Feb 5, 2019
Great show if you're into detailed and narrative driven history.


An audio journey through the 5000 year history of one of the world's oldest continuous civilizations.

Episode Date
#215 - Ming 9: The Good Times Are Killing Me

The Yongle Emperor decides to build a new capital. It goes well!

He also decides to invade both Mongolia and Vietnam. It goes not so well.

Time Period:

1402-1424 CE

Major Historical Figures:


The Yongle Emperor (Zhu Di) [r. 1402-1424]

General Zhang Fu [1375-1449]

Gen. Mu Sheng [1368-1439]

Mongol Khanates:

Bunyashiri of the Eastern Tribes [d. 1412]

Mahmud of the Oirat [d. 1416]

Arughtai of the Oirat [d. 1434]

Dai Viet:

Ho Qui Ly [1336- ca. 1407]

Tran Thien-binh [d. 1406]

Tran Nguy [?-?]

Tran Qui-khoang (Trung Quang Emperor) [d. 1414]

Le Loi [1384-1433]


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May 09, 2021
#214 - History's Most: "History's Worst Civil War," with Alexander Clifford & Peter Daisley

A great conversation with Alex & Peter of "History's Most" about the worst civil war many have *still* never heard of - the Taiping Rebellion!

Check out their great show at:


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Apr 17, 2021
#213 - Ming 8: Oh, Happy Days!

The Yongle Emperor has taken command... and we're in for a really, really, really great time....

Time Period Covered: 1402-1424 CE


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Apr 11, 2021
#212 - Ming 7: The Incredible Vanishing Emperor!

The civil war between the Jianwen Emperor and his uncle, the Prince of Yan, rages on across the realm. Both sides will feel the terror and pain of the fearsome realities combat... but in the end, only one will be left standing.

Time Period Covered:

1399-1402 CE

Major Historical Figures:

The Jianwen Emperor (Zhu Yunwen) [r. 1398-1402]

Zhu Di, the Prince of Yan [1360-1424]

Minister Huang Zicheng [1350-1402]

Minister Qi Tai [d. 1402]

Minister Fang Xiaoru [1357-1402]

General Geng Bingwen [1334-1403]

General Li Jinglong [1369-1424]

Major Works Cited:

Andrade, Tonio. “How Yongle learned to stop worrying and love the gun” in The Ming World.

Chan, Hok-lam. “The Chien-wen, Yung-lo, Hung-hsi, and Hsüan-te Reigns, 1399-1435” in The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 7: The Ming Dynasty, 1368-1633, Part I.

Ditmanson, Peter. “Venerating the Martyrs of the 1402 Usurpation: History and Memory in the Mid and late Ming Dynasty” in T’oung Pao, Second Series, Vol. 93.

Ditmanson, Peter. “Fang Xiaoru: Moralistic Politics in the Early Ming” in The Human Tradition in Premodern China.


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Mar 21, 2021
#211 - Ming 6: The Jingnan Rebellion

In the wake of the Hongwu Emperor's death, his grandson - Zhu Yunwen - will assume command. He's been brought up and trained in the highest of Confucian ethics and morals, and will seek to curb the excesses of his dear grandfather's... more bloodthirsty policies. But not everyone is thrilled at the new leaf being turned in the book of the regime... especially those who stand to lose much more than they could possibly gain.

Time Period Covered:

1398-1399 CE

Major Historical Figures:

The Jianwen Emperor (Zhu Yunwen) [r. 1398-1402]

Zhu Di, the Prince of Yan [1360-1424]

Minister Huang Zicheng [1350-1402]

Minister Qi Tai [d. 1402]

Minister Fang Xiaoru [1357-1402]

General Geng Bingwen [1334-1403]

General Li Jinglong [1369-1424]

Major Works Cited:

Andrade, Tonio. “How Yongle learned to stop worrying and love the gun” in The Ming World.

Chan, Hok-lam. “The Chien-wen, Yung-lo, Hung-hsi, and Hsüan-te Reigns, 1399-1435” in The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 7: The Ming Dynasty, 1368-1633, Part I.

Ditmanson, Peter. “Venerating the Martyrs of the 1402 Usurpation: History and Memory in the Mid and late Ming Dynasty” in T’oung Pao, Second Series, Vol. 93.

Ditmanson, Peter. “Fang Xiaoru: Moralistic Politics in the Early Ming” in The Human Tradition in Premodern China.


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Mar 17, 2021
#210 - Ming 5: The Problem With Princes

The Hongwu Emperor enters the twilight of his life. But before he's ready to ride off into that long sunset, he's going to take a hell of a lot more people with him...

Time Period:

1387-1398 CE

Major Historical FIgures:

The Hongwu Emperor (Zhu Yuanzhang) [r. 1368-1398]

Crown Prince Zhu Biao [1355-1392]

Crown Prince Zhu Yunwen (The Jianwen Emperor) [1377-1402]

Zhu Shuang, the Prince of Qin [1356-1395]

Zhu Gang, the Prince of Jin [1358-1398]

Zhu Di, the Prince of Yan [1360-1424]

Zhu Su, the Prince of Zhou [1361-1425]

General Fu Youde [1327-1394]

General Feng Sheng [d. 1395]

Major Sources:

Langlois, John D., Jr. “The Hung-Wu-Reign” in The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 7: The Ming Dynasty, 13698-1644m Part I.

Robinson, David M. In the Shadow of the Mongol Empire: Ming China and Eurasia.

Sun, Bing. “The burial system of imperial concubines in the Ming Dynasty and the ‘ancestral system’ of the Ming Dynasty.”


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Mar 01, 2021
#209-Mongol 17.1: Rivers of Ink & Blood

(NOTE: This is Pt. 1 or 2. The Full Episode & all other bonus content is available via

Mongke has ascended as the Great Khan of the Mongols and set loose his younger brother, Hulegu Ilkhan to bring the Islamic world to heel. The Caliph of the Abbasid Dynasty, al-Mustasim, sits ensconced in his citadel city of Baghdad - the jewel of Islam - and believes that Allah above and his loyal subjects beneath will be more than a match for barbarian hordes.

He's about to learn a lesson neither he - nor the world - will ever forget...

Time Period Covered:

1258-1259 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Mongol Empire:

Hülegü Ilkhan [ca. 1215-1265]

General Kitbukha [d. 1260]

General Baiju [1201-1260]

Abbasid Caliphate:

al-Musta’sim-Billah Abu-Ahmad Abdullah bin al-Mustansir 

Billah, 37th Caliph [1213-1258]

Governor Shahab al Din Sulaiman shah [d. 1258]

Vizier Ibn al Alkami [1197-1258]

Major Sources Cited:

Al-Din, Rashid. Jami al Tararikh (Compendium of Histories).

Al-Din, Rashid (tr. John Andrew Boyle). The Successors of Genghis Khan.

Chugtai, Mizra Azeem Baig. “The Fall of Baghdad” in The Annal of Urdu Studies.

Daftary, Farhad. The Isma’ilis: Their History and Doctrines.

Hillenbrand, Robert. “Propaganda in the Mongol ‘World History’” in British Academy Review, issue 17 (March 2011).

Hodgson, M. G. S. “The Isma’ili State” in The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. 5: The Saljuq and Mongol Periods.

Jamal, Nadia Eboo. Surviving the Mongols: Nizari Quhistani and the Continuity of Ismaili Tradition in Persia.

Marozzi, Justin. Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood.

Paris, Matthew of (tr. John Allen Giles). Chronica Majora (Matthew Paris’s English History From the Year 1235 to 1273, Volume 1).

Saunders, J.J. The History of the Mongol Conquests.

van Ruysbroeck, Willem (tr. W. W. Rockhill & Peter Jackson). The journey of William of Rubruck to the eastern parts of the world, 1253-55, as narrated by himself, with two accounts of the earlier journey of John of Pian del Carpine.

Wiet, Gaston. Baghdad: Metropolis of the Abbasid Caliphate.


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Feb 12, 2021
#208 - Ming 4: To Pick at the Dragon's Scales

To both the north and south, the armies of Great Ming continue to achieve order from chaos and stability across the realm, in the imperial palace at Nanjing, the Hongwu Emperor sits the Dragon Throne - as mercurial and temperamental as its very namesake... and woe betide anyone who stokes the dragon's wrath. Still, in the name of greater peace (and fewer mass slaughters), many a brave (and often fatally foolish)scholar will tempt fate by trying to tell Hongwu what he's doing wrong.

Time Period Covered:

1379-1389 CE

Major Historical Figures:


The Hongwu Emperor (Zhu Yuanzhang) [r.1368-1398]

Duke Li Wenzhong [d. 1384]

General Fu Youde [d. 1394]

General Feng Sheng [?]

General Lan Yu [d. 1393]

General Mu Ying [d. 1392]

Scholar Chen Wenhui [d. 1381]

Scholar Li Shilu [d. 1381]

Scholar Xie Jin [1369-1415]


Toghus Temür Khan [d. 1388]

Basalawarmi, the Prince of Liang [d. 1382]

General Naghachu [d. 1388]

Si Lunfa, Chieftain of Shan [d. 1386?]

Major Works Cited:

Crossley, Pamela Kyle, et al. Empire at the Margins: Culture, Ethnicity and Frontier in Early Modern China.

Dillon, Michael. China’s Muslim Hui Community: Migration, Settlements and Sects.

Langlois, John D., Jr. “The Hung-Wu-Reign” in The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 7: The Ming Dynasty, 13698-1644m Part I.

Tsai, Shi-shan Henry. The Eunuchs in the Ming Dynasty.g.


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Feb 01, 2021
#207 - Mongol 16: Assassin's Creed

Following the destruction of the Khwarazmian Empire in 1221, the Mongol Empire's appetite for conquest to the west is whetted. It will take a few Great Khans to kick it off, but with the accession of Möngke to the throne in 1251, the way will be laid bare - to be led by his brother Hülegü Khan.

The only thing standing between him and the beating heart of Islam is a ragged band of heretics scattered across the mountain fortresses of northern Persia - a group known as the Nizari Isma'ili... or more infamously: the Assassins.

Time Period Covered:

765-1257 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Mongol Empire:

Möngke Khaghan [r. 1251-1259]

Hülegü Ilkhan [r. 1251-1265]

General Ket-Buqa (Noyan) [d. 1260]

Nizari Isma'ili:

Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq [702-765]

Hassan-i Sabbah [1050-1124]

Imam Jalal al-Din Hassan [1187-1221]

Imam Ala al-Din Muhammad III [1211-1255]

Imam Rukn al-Din Khurshah [1230-1256]


Brother Matthew of Paris [1200-1259]

Friar William of Rubruck [1220-1293]

Ata-Malik Juvayni [1226-1283]

Rashid al-Din Hamadani [1247-1318]

Major Sources Cited:

Al-Din, Rashid (tr. John Andrew Boyle). The Successors of Genghis Khan.

Daftary, Farhad. The Isma’ilis: Their History and Doctrines.

Hillenbrand, Robert. “Propaganda in the Mongol ‘World History’” in British Academy Review, issue 17 (March 2011).

Hodgson, M. G. S. “The Isma’ili State” in The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. 5: The Saljuq and Mongol Periods.

Jamal, Nadia Eboo. Surviving the Mongols: Nizari Quhistani and the Continuity of Ismaili Tradition in Persia.

Marozzi, Justin. Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood.

Paris, Matthew of (tr. John Allen Giles). Chronica Majora (Matthew Paris’s English History From the Year 1235 to 1273, Volume 1).

Saunders, J.J. The History of the Mongol Conquests.

van Ruysbroeck, Willem (tr. W. W. Rockhill & Peter Jackson). The journey of William of Rubruck to the eastern parts of the world, 1253-55, as narrated by himself, with two accounts of the earlier journey of John of Pian del Carpine.


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Jan 12, 2021
#206 - Ming 3: I Think I'm Paranoid

The founder of the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang, the Hongwu Emperor... has got a bit of a trust problem. It starts with him getting upset that his officials are "cutting corners" when it comes to official counts of tribute payments & the stamped documents verifying them. But it quickly spirals into full-blown paranoia that absolutely everyone is out to get them, and the only was he knows how to confront this problem is by getting all of his "enemies" first.

Time Period Covered:

ca. 1373-1382 CE

Major Historical Figures:

The Hongwu Emperor (Zhu Yuanzhang) [r. 1368-1398]

Crown Prince Zhu Biao [1355-1392]

Zhu Shuang, Prince Min of Qin [1356-1395]

Zhu Gang, Prince Gong of Jin [1358-1398]

Zhu Di, Prince of Yan [1360-1424]

Chancellor Hu Weiyong [d. 1380]

Gao Qi [1334-1374]

Prefect Ye Boju [d. 1376]

Academician Zheng Shili [d. 1376]

Sources Cited:

Brook, Timothy. The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China.

Langlois, John D., Jr. “The Hung-Wu-Reign” in The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 7: The Ming Dynasty, 13698-1644m Part I.

Laozi. Dao De Jing.

Luo, Yuming. A Concise History of Chinese Literature.

Strassberg, Richard E. Inscribed Landscapes: Travel Writing from Imperial China.


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Dec 26, 2020
#205 - Hangzhou: A City by the Bay

You might not be able to go on a real holiday - but today we take a little audio trip to the city of Hangzhou, Zhejiang... famed across the millennia for its beautiful bay, canals, and the famous West Lake.

This is no ordinary tourist get-away, though, because we'll be skipping across time, looking at the highlights of its early history.

Time Period Covered:

ca. 5,000 BCE- ca. 960 CE

Major Sources:

Cotterell, Arthur. The Imperial Capitals of China – An Inside View of the Celestial Empire.

Giles, Lionel (tr.) Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

Loewe, Michael and Edward L. Shaughnessey. The Cambridge History of Ancient China.

Mote, F.W. Imperial China.(900-1800).

Rossabi, Morris. China Among Equals: the Middle Kingdom and its Neighbors, 10th-14th centuries.

Schmidt, J. D. Within the Human Realm: The Poetry of Huang Zunxian, 1848-1905.

Yan, Zi. Famous Temples in China.


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Dec 13, 2020
#204 - Ming 2: Winning Was Easy, Young Ming, Governing Is Harder

The Hongwu Emperor officially accedes to the throne as the founding ruler of Great Ming, to as much pomp and circumstance as his ministers can possibly pack in to the ceremony. After the parties are all done and the sacrifices all made, however, the real work of governing an empire that has been ravaged for centuries begins… and not everyone is happy about having a new sovereign sitting atop the dragon throne.

Time Period Covered:

1367-1373 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Great Ming:

The Hongwu Emperor (Zhu Yuanzhang) [r. 1368-1398]

Empress Xiaocigao (née Ma Xuying) [1332-1382]

Zhu Biao, Crown Prince [1355-1392]

Zhu Shuang, Prince of Qin [1356-1395]

Zhu Gang, Prince of Jin [1358-1398]

Zhu Di, Prince of Yan [1360-1424]

Tao Kai, Minister of Rites

General Xu Da [1332-1385]

General Deng Yu

General Fu Youde [1327-1394]

Ambassador Zhao Zhi

Xia Kingdom (Sichuan):

Emperor Ming Yuzhen [r. 1360-1366]

Emperor Ming Sheng [r. 1366-1371]

Nanchō Japan:

Prince Kaneyoshi, the Chinzei Shogun [c. 1329-1383]

Monk Sorai

Major Works Cited:

Chan, Hok-Lam. “Ming Taizu’s Problem With his Sons: Prince Qin’s Criminality and Early Ming Politics” in Asia Major, Third Series, Vol. 20, No. 1 (2007).

Langlois, John D. “The Hung-wu Reign” in The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 7: The Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644, Part 1.


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Nov 29, 2020
#203 - Yuan 16: The White Hare's Curse

"The list of their disasters was much lengthened [...] and whenever they tried to force a way into the borders of the empire, they were beaten back. They were once more confined to the great desert, whence they originally sprang.”

“Although I am a woman, I have avenged the vengeance of my husband. When I die, there will be no regret.”

Time Period Covered:

1368~1399 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Yuan/ Northern Yuan:

Toghon Temür (Emperor Shun) [r. 1333-1368, 1368-1369]

Ayurshiridara (Biligtü Khan) [r. 1370-1378]

Prince Maidiribala [1338-1378]

General Köke Temür [1330-1375]

Elbeg Khan [r. 1393-1399]

Oljeitu Khatun [d. ~1399]


Zhu Yuanzhang (Hongwu Emperor) [r. 1368-1399]

Xu Da, "Barbarian-Conquering Generalissimo" [1332-1385]

General Li Wenzhong [1339-1383]


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Nov 12, 2020
#202.5 - Bonus: Strange Tales V.5: The Masque of the Red Death

You are invited to a very exclusive party. Everyone who's anyone will be there, dressed to the nines. You're sure to have the time of your life, and won't even know where the time's gone...

Story by: Edgar Allen Poe


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Oct 23, 2020
#202 - Special: Strange Tales V

The chill of autumn is in the air once again, which can only mean one thing! It’s time for more tales to terrorize & titillate, baffle & bemuse… it’s time to once again venture into the studio of Pu Songling and listen to his strange tales. So gather round the light of the fire… or the iPhone… and get ready for seven strange stories of sly foxes, flights of fancy, monstrous appetites, unusual encounters, otherworldly lessons, tricky traders, and enchanting apparitions...

00:58: The Half-Fox Girl

10:55: The Painted Wall

18:27: The Monster In the Buckwheat

21:48: The Girl From Nanjing

25:45: A Most Exemplary Monk

28:07: Stealing a Peach

33:38: The Hungry Bride

36:07: The Magic Sword & the Magic Bag


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Oct 17, 2020
#201 - Ming 1: Overflowing Martial Accomplishment

How does a peasant, orphan, son of a farmer

in the Black Death, made a monk in the middle of a forgotten spot

In central Anhui by providence impoverished

In squalor, grow up to be a rebel hero, then a monarch?

Time Period Covered:

1364-1368 CE

Major Historical Figures:


Zhu Yuanzhang (Hongwu Emperor) [r. 1368-1398]

General Xu Da [1332-1385]

General Chang Yuchun [1330-1369]

Commander Li Wenzhong [1338-1384]


Emperor Toghon Temür [r. 1333-1368, 1368-1370]

Crown Prince Ayushiridara [1340-1378]

General Chaghan Temür [d. 1362]

General Köke Temür [1330-1375]

General Bolod Temür [d. 1364]


Zhang Shicheng (King of Dazhou) [r. 1354-1367]

General Li Bosheng


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Oct 06, 2020
#200 - Special: Di Er Bai Ji!

It's our 200th(ish) episode!

And so we take to the listeners to answer some of their burning questions about... Daoist gods... Islam in China... The Mandate of Heaven... sacrifices! ... the political expedience of murdering Mongol ambassadors... The Duke ... the names of emperors... technology transfers ... Korean empresses... and more!


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Sep 20, 2020
#199 - Yuan 15: On the Waterfront

You don't understand! Chen Youliang coulda had class! He coulda been a contender! He coulda been somebody... instead of a bum, which is what he is after the fiasco on the waters of Lake Poyang. Let's face it.

Time Period Covered:

1360-1363 CE

Major Historical Figures:

State of Ming:

Zhu Yuanzhang

Commander Hua Yun [d. 1360]

Han Lin'er, "Emperor of Song"

General Kang Maocai

General Xu Da

General Hu Dahai [d. 1361]

General Shao Rong [d. 1361]

State of Han:

Emperor Chen Youliang [r. 1360-1363]

General Chen Yuren

Xu Shouhui, "Emperor" of Tianwan [d. 1360]

State of Wu:

Zhang Shicheng

Yuan Dynasty:

Emperor Toghon Temur

Prince Chaghan Temur [d. 1361]

Köke Temur (Wang Baobao)


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Aug 30, 2020
#198 - Mongol 15.1: The Toluid Revolution

When Ögedei dies in late 1241, the empire must choose a successor before it can move forward. In spite of the late Khan determining in advance that it should be his grandson, his empress has other ideas - namely, installing her own irascible son, Güyük, instead. This raises more than a few eyebrows, especially from the Lord of the Golden Horde (and Güyük's personal nemesis) Batu Khan. He'll spend then next 5 years doing absolutely everything in his power to prevent Güyüks' enthronement. And so, when Güyük is finally installed... is it any surprise that he'll seek to get even on his hated cousin? Their looking showdown on the fields of Dzungaria will set the stage for a truly unpredictable series of events, that will leave the Mongol Empire altered forever...

(NOTE: This is Part 1 of a Bonus Episode! Get the rest, and all other bonus content by subscribing via

Time Period Covered:

1242-1254 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Mongol Empire:

Temuge Otchigin, Genghis Khan's youngest brother, Prince of the Hearth [1168-1246]

House Ögedei:

*Ögedei Khaghan [r. 1232-1241]

Toregene Khatun [r. 1242-1246]

Güyük Khaghan [r. 1246-1248]

Oghul Khaimish Khatun [r. 1248-1251]

Prince Shiremun [d. 1251]

Prince Khodan [d. 1246]

Lady Fatima [d. 1246]

House Tolui:

*Tolui Otchigin [1191-1232]

Sorkhakhtani Beki [1190-1252]

Möngke Khaghan [r. 1251-1259]

Prince Khubilai

Prince Hulagu

Prince Ariq Boke

General Menggesar, Noyan Companion of Mongke

House Jochi:

*Jochi [c. 1182-1225]

Batu, Khan of the Golden Horde [1205-1255]

Major Sources Cited:

  • De Nicola, Bruno. “Regents and Empresses: Women’s Rule In the Mongols’ World Empire” in Women in Mongol Iran: The Khatuns, 1206-1335.
  • Hamadani, Rashid-al-Din. Compendium of Chronicles. Dowson, John (tr.)
  • Juvaini, Ata-Malik. History of the World Conqueror. (tr. John Andrew Boyle).
  • Kim, Hodong. “A Reappraisal of Güyüg Khan” in Mongols, Turks, and Others: Eurasian Nomand and the Sedentary World.
  • Man, John. Kublai Khan: The Mongol King Who Remade China.
  • McLynn, Frank. Genghis Khan: This Conquests, His Empire, His Legacy.
  • Onon, Urgunge (tr.). The Secret History of the Mongols: The Life and Times of Chinggis Khan.
  • Rockhill, William Woodville (tr.). The journey of William of Rubruck to the eastern parts of the world, 1253-55, as narrated by himself, with two accounts of the earlier journey of John of Pian de Carpine.
  • Rossabi, Morris. “The Reigns of Ogodei and Guyug” in The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 6: Alien Regimes and Border States, 907-1368.
  • Weatherford, Jack. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World.

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Aug 12, 2020
#197 - Yuan 14: Battle Royale

As Guard-Captain of the Red Turbans, Zhu Yuanzhang sets his sights on the jewel of the southlands: Nanjing. Once that's in his grasp, he'll truly join the ranks of the top-tier warlords of the era... but when you've elbowed you way up to the head table, don't be surprised if those you bump up against take exception to you shoving them aside...

Time Period Covered:

1355-1360 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Yuan Dynasty:

Emperor Toghon Temur (Huizong/Shundi) [r. 1333-1368, 1368-1370]

General Shimo Yisun [d. 1360]

Red Turban:

Emperor of Song, Han Lin'er, the Little Lord of Light [r. 1351-1367]

Guo Zixing [d. 1355]


Guard-Captain Zhu Yuanzhang, "Outstanding Hero" [1328-1398]

General Xu Da [1332-1385]

General Chang Yüchen

General Hu Dahai [d. 1362]

Minister Song Lian [1310-1381]


King Chen Youliang [1320-1363]


Zhang Shicheng, the "Heaven Blessed" King, Salt-Smuggler Extraordinaire [1321-1367]


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Jul 29, 2020
#196 - Special: ReConsidering China with Xander Snyder & Eric Fogg

My long-lost conversation with the hosts of the excellent ReConsider Podcast, Xander and Eric... now *finally* delivered to you!


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Jul 20, 2020
#195 - Yuan 13: The Lords of Light

As the cataclysmic decade of the 1340s rolls in to the 1350s a planned rerouting of the Yellow River will trigger a massive uprising by what the Yuan authorities call the Red Turban Rebels. But who are they really? What do they believe? Why are they fighting? And how do they tie in with the eventual overthrow of the Mongols from their hegemony over China?

Major Historical Figures:

Maitreya Buddha, Successor to Gautama Buddha [???]

Mani the Last, Prophet of Manichaeism [ca. 216-277 CE]

Red Turbans:

Peng Yingyu, Buddhist Monk, "Father" of the Red Turbans [d. ca. 1348-1358]


Han Shantong, Lord of Light [d. 1351]

Han Lin'er, the Young Lord of Light [1340-1367]

General Liu Futong (AKA "Liu Fangshi") [1321-1363]

Guo Zixing, Leader of Red Turban Army, Lord of Haozhou [d. 1355]

Zhu Yuanzhang, Buddhist mendicant monk, Guard Commander of the Red Turbans [1328-1398]


Xu Shouhui, cloth-merchant, Emperor of Tianwan Kingdom, Maitreya Incarnate [1320-1360]

Qing Dynasty:

Huang Yupian, Qing Dynasty Magistrate and White Lotus Hunter [mid-19th century]

Major Sources Cited:

Brook, Timothy. The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China.

Buckley Ebrey, Patricia and Anne Walthall. Pre-Modern East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History, Volume I.

Chao, Wei-pang. “Secret Religious Societies in North China in the Ming Dynasty” in Folklore Studies, Vol. 7.

Farmer, Edward L. Zhu Yuanzhang and Early Ming Legislation: The Reordering of Chinese Society following the Era of Mongol Rule.

Flower, Theresa. “Millenarian Themes of the White Lotus Society.”

Hung, Hing Ming. From the Mongols to the Ming Dynasty: How a Begging Monk Became Emperor of China, Zhu Yuan Zhang.

Lin, Wushu. “A Study On Equivalent Names of Manichaeism in Chinese” in Popular Religion and Shamanism.

Lin, Wushu. Manichaeism and its Dissemination in the East.

Ma, Xisha. “The Syncretism of Maitreyan Belief and Manichaeism in Chinese History” in Popular Religion and Shamanism.

Mote, Frederick W. Imperial China: 900-1800.

Mote, Frederick W. “The Rise of the Ming Dynasty, 1330-1367” in The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 7: The Ming Dynasty.

Overmeier, Daniel L. “Folk-Buddhist Religion: Creation and Eschatology in Medieval China” in History of Religions, Vol. 12, No. 1.

Shek, Richard. “Religious Dissenters in Ming-Qing China” in Religion and the Early Modern State: Views from China, Russia, and the West.

Tan, Chung. Across the Himalayan Gap: An Indian Quest for Understanding China.

Ter Haar, B.J. The White Lotus Teachings in Chinese Religious History.

Wang, Kristen. “Scandalous Tales Behind Nanjing’s 70 Ancient Names” in The Nanjinger, 07/04/2019.

Waterson, James. Defending Heaven: China’s Mongol Wars, 1209-1370.


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Jul 11, 2020
#194 - Intelligent Speech: Hidden Narratives from the Middle Kingdom

My presentation to the 2020 Intelligent Speech Convention, on Women, Minorities, and reading between the bamboo scrolls of history to find the hidden stories. Also with a Q&A session after.


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Jul 01, 2020
#193 - Yuan 12:Blue Sky, Red Turban, White Lotus, Black Death

As Toghon Temur - the eleventh and final Great Khan of the Yuan, takes the throne - the dam holding back the near century of bad decisions back begins to buckle. Things are not helps by a dramatic climate shift, or the outbreak of one of the worst pandemics in human history, either... can we really blame the apocalyptic cults that spring up for thinking it's the end of the world?

Time Period Covered:

1333~1344 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Toghon Temur Khaghan [r. 1333-1368, 1370]

Grand Chancellor Bayan Ba'atur of the Merkid [1280-1340]

Zhu Yuanzhang [1328-1398]


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Jun 15, 2020
Rebroadcast: 6/4 - UK Cable on the Tiananmen Square Massacre

31 years later,

To forget is to risk it all happening anew...


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Jun 04, 2020
#192 - Mongol 14.1: There & Back Again

In the aftermath of the Golden Horde's devastating strike into Eastern Europe, Christendom reels. As apocalyptic as the assaults were, the great enemy's sudden and inexplicable evaporation offers no comfort, and only more questions.

In order to get some answers, the Holy See will dispatch an unlikely candidate to make his way across the whole of Eurasia in an attempt to first find, and then meet with, the King of the Tartars - whoever, and wherever he may be...

Time Period Covered:

1245-1247 CE

Major Historical Figures:

European Christendom:

Pope Innocent IV [r. 1243-1254]

Friar Giovanni da Pian del Carpine (John of Plano Carpini) [ca. 1185-1252]

Friar Benedict of Poland [ca. 1200-ca. 1280]

Friar Stephen of Bohemia

Konrad I, High Duke of Krakow [ca. 1187-1247]

Prince Daniel Romanovich of Galacia [1201-1264]

Grand Prince Vasilko (Basil) Romanovich of Kiev [1203-1269]

Grand Prince Yaroslav II Vsevolodovich of Vladimir [1191-1246]

Mongol Empire:

Guyük Khaghan [r. 1246-1248]

Toregene Khatun [r. 1241-1246]

Batu Khan of the Golden Horde [ca. 1205-1255]

Grand Secretary Chinqai of Khwarazm


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May 20, 2020
#191 - Special: "Superpower Interrupted," an Interview with Author Michael Schuman

My interview with Beijing-based author and journalist Michael Schuman about China's history, present, future, and food... and of course about his upcoming book, "Superpower Interrupted: The Chinese History of the World," available on June 9th, 2020.

Find Michael on Twitter under the handle @michaelschuman


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May 11, 2020
#190 - Yuan 11: The War of the Two Capitals

We start today in the aftermath of the murder of the 9th Great Mongol Khan and the 5th Emperor of Yuan. We end a decade later, at the beginning of the 15th Great Khan and 11th Yuan Emperor... coincidentally (or not) the last of both. The treachery, assassinations, wars, and power-plays that get us from that start to that end will threaten to split the very soul of the empire in two. Also, there's a lot of Temürs along the way... like, a *lot,* a lot!

Time Period Covered:

1323-1333 CE

Major Events:

* Coup at Nanpo [Sept. 4, 1323] - Outcome: assassination of Shidebala Khaghan, accession of Yesün Temür Khaghan

* War of the Two Capitals [Aug. 1328-Nov. 14, 1328 (sporadic resistance thru 1332)] - Outcome: Khaishan Restorationist victory/ Shangdu Loyalist defeat, overthrow of Aragibagh & enthronement of Jayaatu Khaghan

* Incident at Ongghochatu [Aug. 26-30, 1329] - Outcome: assassination of Khoshila, restoration of Togh Temur Khaghan to the throne

Relevant Historical Figures:

Great Yuan:

Shidebala (Gegeen Khaghan/Yuan Yingzong) [r. 1320-1323]

Yesün Temür (Khaghan/Yuan Taiding) [r. 1323-1328]

Aragibagh (Khaghan/Yuan Tianshun) [r. Oct.-Nov. 1328]

Togh Temür (Jayaatu Khaghan/Yuan Wenzong) [r. Oct. 1328-Apr. 1329, Sept. 1329- Sept. 1332]

Khoshila (Khutughtu Khaghan/Yuan Mingzong) [r. Feb. 1329-Aug. 1329]

Rinchinbal (Khaghan/Yuan Ningzong) [r. Oct. 29, 1332-Dec. 14, 1332]

Toghon Temür (Ukhaghatu Khaghan/Yuan Huizong) [r. 1333-1368]

Empress Budashiri [1307-1340]

Crown Prince Aradnadara [d. 1330]

Prince El Tegüs [c. 1329-c. 1340]

Daula-shah, Grand Councilor of the Right [d. 1228]

El Temür, General & Grand Councillor of the Right [d. 1333]

Bayan of the Merkids, General & Grand Councillor of the Left [d. 1340]

Chagatai Khanate:

Esen Bukha I, Khan [r. 1310-1318]

Eljigidey Khan [r. 1326-1329]

Golden Horde:

Öz Beg Khan [r. 1313-1341]


Abu Sa'id (Bahadur Khan) [r. 1316-1335]


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Apr 26, 2020
#189 - Yuan 10: The Third Rail

Temur Khan's death without an heir sparks a power vacuum within the Yuan court - two brothers will come to power together, but only one will be able to sit the throne at a time, who will succeed? Meanwhile, as money issues continue to plague the empire, the Mongol nobility get more and more fed-up with the Yuan Borjigins' continual shift toward Chinese-style reforms.

Time Period Covered:

1307-1323 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Khaishan (Külüg Khaghan/Emperor Wuzong) [r. 1307-1311]

Ayurbarwada (Buyantu Khaghan/Emperor Renzong) [r. 1311-1320]

Shidebala (Gegeen Khaghan/Emperor Yingzong) [r.1320-1323]

Grand Empress Dowager Targi [d. 1322]

Empress Bulukhan [d. 1307]

Khosila, Prince of Zhou

Prince Ananda [d. 1307]

Grand Councilor of the Right, Harghasun [d. 1307]

Grand Councilor of the Right, Temüder [d. 1322]

Grand Councilor of the Left/Right, Baiju [d.1323】


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Apr 08, 2020
#188 - Mongol 13: O Lord, Why Are Thy Judgements So Deep?

King Bela IV of Hungary has a bit of a barbarian problem. You see, he let in some Cumans, but now some different barbarians are demanding that he give them back. So Bela does the sensible thing: he kills the Mongol emissaries. Batu Khan and General Subotai are less than pleased...

Time Period Covered:

c. 1239-1242 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Mongol Empire:

Batu Khan [c. 1205-1255]

General Subotai Ba'atur ("the Valiant") [c. 1175-1248]

General Khadan [d. 125?]

General Shiban [d. 1266]

Kingdom of Greater Hungary:

King Bela III [r. 1172-1196]

King Andrew II [r. 1205-1235]

King Bela IV [r. 1235-1265]

Duke Coloman of Slavonia [d. 1241]

Archbishop Ugolin of Kaolocsa [d. 1241]

Duke Palatine of Hungary [d. 1241]

Bishop Benedict of Oradea [d. 1241]

Templar Master Rembald de Voczon [d. 1241]

Archdeacon Thomas of Spalato [1200-1268]

Master Roger of Torre Maggiore, Archdeacon of Varad [1205-1266]

Cuman Tribes:

Chieftain Khotan [d. 1140]


Duke Frederick of Austria "the Quarrelsome" [d. 1245]

Holy Roman Empire:

Emperor Frederick II [r. 1220-1250]

Conrad IV, King of Italy, Germany, the Romans, and Jerusalem [r. 1228-1254]

Roman Catholic Church:

Pope Gregory IX [r. 1227-1241]


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Mar 23, 2020
#187 - Yuan 9: Blessed Iron Khan

Olziyet Temur - the Blessed Iron Khan - takes the throne as the Yuan Dynasty's second emperor, Changzong "The Preserver." He has taken it upon himself to uphold and protect his grandfather Khubilai's glorious legacy... but granddad sure left a bit of a mess for him to try to clear up.

Time Period Covered:

1294-1307 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Olziyet Temur Khan (Emperor Changzong of Yuan) [r. 1294-1307 CE]

Empress Bulukhan

Crown Prince Deshou [d. 1306]

Empress-Dowager Kököchin

Gammala, Prince of Jin

Öljei, Grand Councilor of the Right [d. 1303]

Sayyid Boyan al-Dīn, Finance Minister

Khaidu Khan of House Ögedei [d. 1301]

Du'a Khan of House Chagatai 

Öljeitu, Ilkhan of House Hülegü

General Bayan of the Barin, "Hundred Eyes"


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Mar 08, 2020
#186 - Yuan 8: Khan With the Wind

Khubilai is ancient, pained, and sick... but he still has more Mongol justice to mete out before he joins the Eternal Sky. Still, some campaigns will go better than others.

Period Covered:

ca. 1287-1294 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Yuan Dynasty:

Khubilai (Emperor Shizu) [r. 1260-1294]

Crown Prince Olziit Temur (Emperor Chengzong) [r. 1294-1307]

Prince Esen Temur

Prince Temur Bukha

General Shibi

General Gao Xing

Admiral Yike Musi

Ambassador Meng Qi

Phagspa Lama, Imperial Preceptor of Tibet [1235-1280]

Imperial Preceptor Dharmapalarasita

Kingdom of Pagan (Burma):

King Narathihapate [r. 1256-1287]

Kingdom of Singhasari (Java):

King Kertanagara [d. 1292]

Prince Raden Vijaya [r. 1293-1309]

Duke Jayakatwang of Kediri [d. 1293]

Mongol Khanates:

Du'a Khan of the Chagatids

Khaidu Khan of the Ögedeids [d. 1301]

Prince Nayan [d. 1287]


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Feb 20, 2020
#185 - Special: De Materia Medica

Traditional Chinese Medicine - as its name duly implies - has been a part of China for at least 2,500 years. But what does it mean? Where does it come from? How does it work? And does it have a place it modern society?


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Feb 14, 2020
#184 - Yuan 7: Mark It Zero

Khubilai Khan has led a pretty blessed existence as of the year 1279. But fate has a way of balancing things out in starkly brutal fashion...

Time Period Covered:

~1279-1287 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Yuan Dynasty:

Emperor Khubilai

Empress Chabi (d. 1281)

Crown Prince Zhenjin (1242-1285)

Prince Toghon, Prince of Suppression of the South

Finance Minister Ahmad Fanakati (d. 1282)

Finance Minister Lu Shijing (d. 1285)

Admiral Hong Tau

General Fan Wenhu

General Xindu

General Nasir al-Din

Commander Sodu (d. 1285)

Commander Arigh Khaya

Japanese Shogunate:

Hojo Tokimune, Regent of the Shogun

Kingdom of Pagan:

King Narathihapate

Kingdom of Champa:

King Jaya Indravarman VI

Kingdom of Dai-Viet:

Emperor Tran Than-Tong


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Feb 06, 2020
#183 - Yuan 6: Cultural Hot-Pot for the Soul

Khubilai Khan is a man astride multiple worlds - trying to be both the Khan of the Great Mongol Nation, and the Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty. This will take quite a bit of accommodation, and between Mongolian shamanism, Chinese Confucianism, Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, and Christianity... more than a little behaving like a cultural chameleon to square those civilizational circles.


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Jan 21, 2020
#182 - Mongol 12.1: The Golden Horde

Jochi was tasked with subduing the Cuman tribes of the western steppes. Jochi failed. Now, under the second Great Khan Ögedei, it will fall to his successor, Batu, Khan of the Golden Horde, to finish what his father could not. He won't be going alone, though. In addition to his invincible tumens, he'll bring with him a host of imperial princes, as well as the greatest commander to ever mount a steed - Subotai the Valiant, now returns to the Western expanses to finish what he began 15 years ago...

Note: this is part 1 of an extended bonus episode! Find the full episode and all other Bonus Episodes by become a patron at

Time Period Covered:

ca. 1235-1240 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Mongol Khanate:

Ögedei Khaghan (1186-1241)

Subotai Ba'atuur, The Last Orlok (ca. 1176-1248)

General Uriyangkhadai (1201-1272)

House Ogedeid:

Guyuk (1206-1248)

Khadan (?)

Khaidu (c. 1230-1301)

House Jochi (Golden Horde):

Batu Khan (ca. 1205-1255)

House Tolui:

Möngke (1209-1259)

Bujek (?)

House Chagatai:


Buri (d. 1252)

Kipchak-Cuman Confederacy:

Bachman Khan (d. 1237)

Khoten Khan (d. 1241)

Russian Principalities:

Grand Prince Yuri II of Vladimir (1188-1238)

Prince Roman of Vladimir (d. 1238)

Prince Michael of Chernigov (1179-1246)

Dmitri, Voivode of Kiev (?)

Kingdom of Hungary:

King Béla IV (1206-1270)


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Jan 03, 2020
#181 - Special: 6th Anniversary Q&A

It's finally time to give holiday thanks and - of course - submit myself before the high inquisitors pelting me with questions day and night!

Topics this year ranged far and wide:

1. How wide-ranging was Genghis Khan's last command in Western Xia?

2. How do I keep my loud mouth out of trouble with the PRC?

3. How "good" were the good times of dynasties for the normies?

4. Which Khan has got it goin' on?

5. Were there plagues in ancient China? How were they dealt with?

6. Did the Mongols trigger anti-foreign conservatism in the Ming?

7. Where should we divide "Chinese" history from "non-Chinese" history?

8. Just how incompetent was the Song Dynasty?

9. Why does THoC be like it do?

10. How did the Mongols relay orders over long distances before writing?

11. How much was opium to blame versus other factors in the decline and fall of the Qing Dynasty?


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Dec 21, 2019
#180 - Yuan 5: Dismounting the Horse to Sit the Dragon

While his armies have been keeping busy in every direction on both offense and defense, Emperor Khubilai had been hard at work re-organizing the mess his family made in China and reformatting it into a stable, lawful Yuan Dynasty. And Grandpa Genghis was right: it's was a *lot* more work to run an empire, than to conquer one...

Period Covered:

ca. 1261-1290


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Dec 08, 2019
#179 - Yuan 4: Traditional Family Values

Khubilai must face off against his most potent threat - his own traditionalist cousin, Khaidu. Meanwhile, Khaidu frets over his daughter Khutulun - a girl as desirable as she is formidable, and will brook no husband who cannot best her at wrestling.

Time Period Covered: ca. 1265-1306 CE

Notable Historical Figures:

Yuan Dynasty:

Khubilai Khan

Prince Zhenjin

Prince Nomukhan

Prince Kokochu

Prime Minister of the Right Antong

General Bayan

Chagatai Khanate:

Khaidu Khan

Princess Khutulun

Rebel Princes:

Togh Timur



Melik Timur


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Nov 18, 2019
#178 - Yuan 3: Divine Wind

The armies of Great Yuan sweep across the east, destroying and conquering all who would stand against them. Goryeo Korea eventually sees the writing on the wall and cuts a deal with the Great Khan. Khubilai will then turn his sights out over the waters of the Pacific, to the Land of the Rising Sun... and send its monarch a friend request.

Time Period Covered:

ca. 1257-1275 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Yuan Dynasty:

Khubilai, Great Khan of Mongolia, Emperor of Yuan

Princess Hutulun Jielimishi

Zhao Liangbi, Yuan Emissary to Japan

Goryeo Korea:

Choi Ui, Warlord of Korea [d. 1257]

King Wonjong [r. 1260-1274]

Im Yon, Warlord [d. ca. 1271]

Pan Pu, Yuan Emissary to Japan

Kamakura Japan:

Hojo Tokimune, Regent of the Shogun (Shikken, de facto ruler of Japan)

Shoni Sukeyoshi, Magistrate of Chikuzen City


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Nov 05, 2019
#177 - Yuan 2: Brother Mine

With the untimely death of Möngke Khaghan outside the walls of Chongqing, the Mongol Empire will be fore to choose for a new emperor for the 5th time in just three decades. Unlike the first four conclaves, however, this will result in not one, but two khuriltais, and two who would be Great Khan. Möngke’s brothers, Khubilai and Ariq Böke, will duel it out across Central Asia to determine who will rule all under the Eternal Blue Sky.

Time Period Covered:

1259-1266 CE

Major Historical Figures:


Möngke Khaghan [d.1259]

Khubilai’s Supporters:

Khubilai Khaghan [r. 1260-1289]

Chabi Khatun [1225-1281]

Hulegu Ilkhan [d. 1265]

General Ked Bukha [d. 1260]

King Hethum I of Armenia [r. 1226-1270]

Ariq Böke Supporters:

Ariq Böke Khaghan [r. 1260-1264, d. 1266]

Berke Khan (Golden Horde/Jochid) [d. 1266]

Alghu Khan (Chagatids) [d. 1265]

Jumukhur (Ilkhanate)

Urung Tang (Möngke Toluid)

General Alandar [d. 1262]

General Durchi

Mamluk Sultanate:

Sultan Saif ad-Din Qutuz [r. 1259-1260]

Sultan Baibars [r. 1260-1277]

Song Dynasty:

Chancellor Jia Sidao [d. 1273]


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Oct 20, 2019
#176 - Special: Strange Tales 4, "Zibuyu"

Confucius talked about a *lot* ... but there were certain things about which even the Master dare not speak. Today we break that ancient taboo with 4 stories of spooky strangeness...

2:01 - "A Karmic Meal"

5:30 - "The Concubine's Revenge"

20:22 - "Too Poor to Be Haunted"

24:26 - "A Hell of a Trial"

Adapted from:

Zibuyu "What the Master Would Not Discuss" by Yuan Mei


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Oct 12, 2019
#175 - Mongol 11.1: Ögedei Cometh

Genghis Khan is dead, and his 3rd son Ögedei has ben selected to lead the Mongol Empire into an uncertain future. Once he is confirmed on the throne, he'll strike on in every direction against every foe at once. On the way, there will be virgin sacrifices, talking wolves, free money, mass enslavement, Persian princes, Assassins, poison, angry water spirits, battle-mages, cannibalism... and that's just the tip of the iceberg!

Note: This is part 1 of the 2-part conclusion to the life of Genghis Khan, with the conclusion available to subscribers via: 

Time Period Covered:

1227-1234 CE

Major Historical Figures:


Ogedei Khaghan

Subotai the Valiant

General Chormakhan

Minister Yelu Chu Cai


Tolui Khan

Sorkhakhtani Beki Khatun


Chagatai Khan


Jalal al-Din

Kingdom of Georgia:

Queen Rusudan


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Oct 09, 2019
Proclamation of the Central People's Government of the PRC, October 1, 1949

The people throughout China have been plunged into bitter suffering and tribulations since the Chiang Kai-shek Kuomintang reactionary government betrayed the fatherland, colluded with imperialists, and launched the counter-revolutionary war. Fortunately our People's Liberation Army, backed by the whole nation, has been fighting heroically and selflessly to defend the territorial sovereignty of our homeland, to protect the people's lives and property, to relieve the people of their sufferings, and to struggle for their rights, and it eventually wiped out the reactionary troops and overthrew the reactionary rule of the Nationalist government. 

Now, the People's War of Liberation has been basically won, and the majority of the people in the country have been liberated. On this foundation, the first session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference , composed of delegates of all the democratic parties and people's organization of China, the People's Liberation Army, the various regions and nationalities of the country, and the overseas Chinese and other patriotic elements, has been convened. Representing the will of the whole nation, [this session of the conference] has enacted the organic law of the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China, elected Mao Zedong as chairman of the Central People's Government; and Zhu De, Liu Shaoqi, Song Qingling, Li Jishen, Zhang Lan, and Gao Gang as vice chairmen [of the Central People's Government]; and Chen Yi, He Long, Li Lisan, Lin Boqu, Ye Jianying, He Xiangning, Lin Biao, Peng Dehuai, Liu Bocheng, Wu Yuzhang, Xu Xiangqian, Peng Zhen, Bo Yibo, Nie Rongzhen, Zhou Enlai, Dong Biwu, Seypidin, Rao Shushi, Tan Kah-kee [Chen Jiageng], Luo Ronghuan, Deng Zihui, Ulanhu, Xu Deli, Cai Chang, Liu Geping, Ma Yinchu, Chen Yun, Kang Sheng, Lin Feng, Ma Xulun, Guo Moruo, Zhang Yunyi, Deng Xiaoping, Gao Chongmin, Shen Junru, Shen Yanbing, Chen Shutong, Szeto Mei-tong [Situ Meitang], Li Xijiu, Huang Yanpei, Cai Tingkai, Xi Zhongxun, Peng Zemin, Zhang Zhizhong, Fu Zuoyi, Li Zhuchen, Li Zhangda, Zhang Nanxian, Liu Yazi, Zhang Dongsun, and Long Yun as council members to form the Central People's Government Council, proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China and decided on Beijing as the capital of the People's Republic of China. 

The Central People's Government Council of the People's Republic of China took office today in the capital and unanimously made the following decisions: to proclaim the establishment of the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China; to adopt the Common Program of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference as the policy of the government; to elect Lin Boqu from among the council members as secretary general of the Central People's Government Council; to appoint Zhou Enlai as premier of the Government Adminstration Council of the Central People's Government and concurrently minister of Foreign Affairs, Mao Zedong as chairman of the People's Revolutionary Military Commission of the Central People's Government, Zhu De as commander-in-chief of the People's Liberation Army, Shen Junru as president of the Supreme People's Court of the Central People's Government, and Luo Ronghuan as procurator general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate of the Central People's Government, and to charge them with the task of the speedy formation of the various organs of the government to carry out the work of the government. 

At the same time, the Central People's Government Council decided to declare to the governments of all other countries that this government is the sole legal government representing all the people of the People's Republic of China. This government is willing to establish diplomatic relations with any foreign government that is willing to observe the principles of equality, mutual benefit, and mutual respect of territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Mao Zedong



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Sep 30, 2019
#174 - Yuan 1: In Xanadu Did Kubla Khan...

You know it’s hard out there for a prince. The fourth sons of a fourth son, Khubilai of the Borjigin will grow up little recognized, and bound for a life of little more than comfortable obscurity. But between his mother’s machinations, his wife’s guidance, his own skills… and a healthy smattering of good fortune, he’ll find himself suddenly thrust into the spotlight and tasked with overseeing the conquest of the Mongols’ oldest foe.

Time Period Covered:

1215-1259 CE

Major Historical Figures:


Tolui [c. 1191-1232] – 4th son of Genghis Khan, Khubilai’s father

Sorkhokhtani Beki [c. 1190-1252] – Khubilai’s mother, Nestorian Christian

Möngke Khaghan [1209-1259] – Tolui’s eldest son, 4th Great Khan of the Mongols

Khubilai, Ilkhan of the Left [1215-1289] – favored grandson of Genghis

Hulagu, Ilkhan of the Right [1218-1265] – 3rd son of Tolui and Sorkhokhtani

Ariq Böke [1219-1266] – youngest son of Tolui, Otchigin “Hearthkeeper”

Chabi Khatun [1225-1281] – Khubilai’s 2nd wife & only love, Tibetan Buddhist

North China:

Minister Yao Shu

Liu Bingzhong, Buddhist Monk, Adviser & Architect of Kaiping/Shangdu city

The Phagspa Lama [1235-1280]

Dali Kingdom:

King Duan Xingzhi [r. 1251-1254, 1256-1260 (as Maharaja)]

Prime Minister Gao Taixiang [d. 1253]

Major Sources:

Atwood, Christopher P. Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire.

Broadbridge, Anne F. Women and the Making of the Mongol Empire.

Clements, Jonathan. A Brief History of Khubilai Khan: Lord of Xanadu, Founder of the Yuan.

May, Timothy (ed.). The Mongol Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia, vol. 1.

McLynn, Frank. Genghis Khan: His Conquests, His Empire, His Legacy.

Rossabi, Morris. “The Reign of Khubilai Khan” in The Cambridge History of China, v. 6: Alien Regimes and Border States, 907-1368.

Weatherford, Jack. The Secret History of the Mongol Queens.


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Sep 22, 2019
"Kubla Khan" - By: Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Kubla Khan


Or, a vision in a dream. A Fragment.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

A stately pleasure-dome decree:

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man

   Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground

With walls and towers were girdled round;

And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,

Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;

And here were forests ancient as the hills,

Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted

Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!

A savage place! as holy and enchanted

As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted

By woman wailing for her demon-lover!

And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,

As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,

A mighty fountain momently was forced:

Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst

Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,

Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:

And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever

It flung up momently the sacred river.

Five miles meandering with a mazy motion

Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,

Then reached the caverns measureless to man,

And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean;

And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far

Ancestral voices prophesying war!

   The shadow of the dome of pleasure

   Floated midway on the waves;

   Where was heard the mingled measure

   From the fountain and the caves.

It was a miracle of rare device,

A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

   A damsel with a dulcimer

   In a vision once I saw:

   It was an Abyssinian maid

   And on her dulcimer she played,

   Singing of Mount Abora.

   Could I revive within me

   Her symphony and song,

   To such a deep delight ’twould win me,

That with music loud and long,

I would build that dome in air,

That sunny dome! those caves of ice!

And all who heard should see them there,

And all should cry, Beware! Beware!

His flashing eyes, his floating hair!

Weave a circle round him thrice,

And close your eyes with holy dread

For he on honey-dew hath fed,

And drunk the milk of Paradise.


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Sep 10, 2019
#173 - S. Song 15: Swan Song

Hangzhou is surrounded by the Mongol Yuan army, and is soon to fall. When the child-emperor and the Empress Dowager are taken captive, it will fall to the last two princes of House Zhao to flee to the islands and archipelagos of the Deep South, if they’re to stand any chance at all of keeping the flame of the Song from guttering out forever.

Time Period Covered:

1275-1279 CE

Southern Song:

Grand Empress Dowager Xie

Empress Dowager Chuan

Emperor Zhao Xian (Gong of Song) [r.1274-1276, d. 1323]

Emperor Zhao Shi (Duanzong) [r. 1276-1278]

Emperor Zhao Bing [r. 1278-1279]

Chancellor Chen Yizhong

Mongol Yuan Dynasty:

Khubilai, Mongol Khan & Emperor of Yuan

General Bayan, Commander of the Southern Campaign

General Atzuhan

Admiral Dong Wenping

Lt. Menkhutai

Lt. Fan Wenhu


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Sep 07, 2019
#172 - S. Song 14: The Tightening Noose

Mongolia is gripped in a civil war of its own, meaning the Song Empire has a chance to breathe. But with the immediate threat allayed for now, other problems become apparent. And when the new Great Khan, Khubilai, returns his attention to the land south of the Yangtze, China will find out whether it was a decade well spent in preparation for the coming assault, on one utterly squandered.

Time Period Covered:

1259-1275 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Song Empire:

Emperor Lizong (Zhao Yun) [r. 1221-1264]

Emperor Duzong (Zhao Qi) [r. 1264 -1274]

Grand Empress Dowager Xie [1210-1283]

Chancellor Jia Sidao [1213-1275]


Möngke [1209-1259]

Khubilai [1215-1294]

Ariq Böke [1219-1264]

General Aju [1227-1287]


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Aug 24, 2019
#171 - Mongol 10.1: The Succession

Genghis Khan is old, wracked by pain in his body and heart, and in spite of his best efforts, has come to accept there is one foe he cannot defeat: mortality itself. Thus, even before setting out on his campaign against the Khwarazmian Empire, he will assemble his four sons and together reach a fateful decision - who among them will rule when Genghis is gone?

Note: This is part 1 of the 2-part conclusion to the life of Genghis Khan, with the conclusion available to subscribers!

Time Period Covered:

1220-1227 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Genghis Khan [Temüjin] (1162-1227)

Börte Khatun (c.1161-c.1130)

Jochi (1181-1226)

Chagatai Khan (1183-1242)

Ögedei Khan (c.1186-1241)

Tolui (c.1191-1232)


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Aug 07, 2019
#170 - S. Song 13: Stay of Execution

The Mongol Khanate is on the warpath against all who would stand against it... until several unexpected system errors for the whole system to reboot. How will Song China deal with these unexpected years of preparatory time?

Time Period Covered:

1241-1260 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Song Dynasty:

Emperor Lizong

Chancellor Jia Sidao

Mongol Empire:

Ögedei Khan

Toregene Khatun

Guyuk Khan

Oghul Khaimish Khatun

Sorkhokhtani Beki

Möngke Khan

Khubilai Ilkhan

General Uriyangkhadai


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Jul 29, 2019
#169 - S. Song 12: Instant Regret

Just off of the heady victory over the Jin Dynasty with their new BFFs, the Mongols, a first-in-a-century visit to the Imperial Tombs gives the Song court a brilliant idea - what if we just took them back without asking? What's the worst that could happen?

Time Period Covered: 1234-1241 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Song Dynasty:

Emperor Lizong

Chancellor Zheng Qingzhi

Chancellor Shi Miyuan [d. 1233]

General Zhao Kui

General Quan Zicai

Mongol Khanate:

Ögedei Khaghan

Töregene Khatun

Prince Khödan

Prince Khöchu

Ambassador Wang Qi


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Jul 14, 2019
Bonus 4.1 - Mongol 8.1: Subotai & Jebe's Excellent Adventure

In the course of their pursuit of the fleeing Khwarazmian Amir, Genghis Khan's two top commanders have reached the shores of the Caspian Sea, and heard some of the strangest tales about what - and who - lay beyond. When the Great Khan gives his go-ahead to scout it out, they'll launch a three-year trek that will remake the world in their bloody image.

Time Period Covered:

1220-1221 CE


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Jul 04, 2019
#168 - S. Song 11: Twilight of the Golds

The Jin Dynasty is surrounded on all sides. It cannot get out. Soon enough, the Mongol stranglehold around Kaifeng will signal the Empire of Black & Gold's death-knell.

Time Period Covered:

1224-1234 CE


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Jun 29, 2019
#167 - S. Song 10: ...Is My Enemy's Enemy, No More, No Less

With enemies on all sides, and the Mongol sledgehammer poised to strike its crushing blow against them, the Jin Dynasty seeks an out by plunging southward, only to find that the Song defenses have become the anvil on which they rest. Exhausted, they’ll seek peace at any cost… but will it be enough to save the tatters of their empire?

Time Period Covered:

1217-1225 CE

Major Historical Figures:


Emperor Ningzong (Zhao Kuo) [r. 1194-1224]

Emperor Lizong (Zhao Yun) [r. 1224-1264]

Empress Yang [1162-1232]

Chancellor Shi Miyuan [1164-1233]

Crown Prince Zhao Xun [1194-1220]

Prince Zhao Hong [1207-1225]

General Zhao Fang

An Bing, Commandant of Sichuan


Emperor Xuanzong (Wudubu/Wanyan Xun) [r. 1213-1224]

Emperor Aizong (Ningjiasu/ Wanyan Shouxu) [r.1224-1234]


Genghis Khan (Temüjin) [r. 1206-1227]

General Mukhali [1170-1223]


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Jun 02, 2019
6/4: UK Cable on Tiananmen Square Massacre

Even after 30 years...

When you're ordered to forget, to remember becomes an act of defiance.


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Jun 02, 2019
#166 - S. Song 9: The Enemy of My Enemy...

The Jin Empire is all at once ripped apart from 4 different directions all at once: Shandong rebels from the east, Khitan from the northeast, Mongols from the northwest, and Tanguts from the West. So they decide to go the only direction left… and invade Southern Song.

Time Period Covered:

1208-1217 CE

Relevant Historical Figures:


Emperor Ningzong

Chancellor Shi Miyuan

Minister Zhen Dexiu


Prince Wei

Emperor Xuanzong

Commander Hesheli Zhizhong

Councilor Zhuhele Guoleqi


Genghis Khan

Red Jacket Rebels:

Yang the Saddler


Yelu Liuge, puppet-Emperor of Liao

Dazhen Kingdom:

Heavenly King Puxian Wannu


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May 19, 2019
#165 - S. Song 8: The Kaixi War

Chancellor Han Tuozhou is down-but-not-yet-out following his ill-fated attempting to bring down the Neo-Confucians. Thus, in an attempt to salvage his career and reputation, he'll launch the Song Empire into full-scale war against the Jin Dynasty... with unexpected results.

Time Period Covered:

ca. 1200-1207 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Emperor Ningzong of Song

Empress Yang

Chancellor Han Tuozhou

Minister Shi Miyuan

General Wu Xi

Commissioner Cheng Song


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May 04, 2019
#164 - S. Song 7: Out With the New, In With the Old

Neo-Confucianism has made a strong comeback through the synthesis of its various doctrines under the philosophical guidance of Zhu Xi of the Southern Song court. He and his likeminded ministers seek to bring back the perfection of eras gone by by being perfectly morally upright, and expecting everyone else to do the same. But when it turns out that certain other loose-living party-boys like Chancellor Han Tuozhou and Emperor Ningzong aren’t so thrilled about their buzzkilling ways, it will set up a massive conflict at court.

Time Period Covered:

1194-1202 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Emperor Ningzong

Chancellor Han Tuohzou

Minister Zhu Xi


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Apr 21, 2019
#163 - S. Song 6: Filial Impiety

Back in Song China, we have a tale of two emperors: one who is devoted utterly to his father, and the other who's...well... not.

Time Period Covered:

1165-1194 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Retired Emperor Gaozong [r. 1127-1162, as retired emperor 1162-1187]

Emperor Xiaozong [r. 1162-1189, as retired emperor 1189-1194]

Emperor Guangzong [r. 1189-1194]

Empress Dowager Wu [1115-1197]

Empress Li [1144-1200]


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Mar 31, 2019
Announcement: Bonus Mongol Content!

You know you want to...


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Mar 31, 2019
#162 - Mongol 4: The Great Khan

Temujin Khan crushes his enemies, sees them driven before him, and hears the lamentations of their women!!!

Time Period Covered:

ca. 1202-1206 CE

Major Historical Figures:


Temujin (Genghis Khan)

Khasar, Temujin's Brother

Börte - Temujin's 1st Wife

Yesugen - Temujin's 2nd Wife

Yesui - Temujin's 3rd Wife

Jochi, Temujin's first son(?)

Jirkho’adai (Jebe the Arrow)





Jamukha (Gurkhan) - Temujin's anda/nemesis


To'oril (Ong Khan)

Senggum, Ong's son

Cha'ur Beki, Ong's daughter


Tayang Khan

Queen Gürbesu, Tayang's Wife/Stepmother

Works Cited:

Allsen, Thomas (1994). “The Rise of the Mongolian Empire and Mongolian Rule in North China” in The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 6: Alien Regimes and Border States.

Kahn, Paul (tr.) (2005). The Secret History of the Mongols: The Origin of Chingis Khan.

Onon, Urgunge (2001). The Secret History of the Mongols: The Life and Times of Chingghis Khan.

Ostrowski, Donald (2002). Muscovy and the Mongols: Cross-Cultural Influences on the Steppe Frontier, 1304-1589.

Pelliot, Paul (1959). Notes on Marco Polo, Vol. 1.

Weatherford, Jack (2005). Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World.

Weatherford, Jack (2017). Genghis Khan and the Quest for God.

Weatherford, Jack (2011). The Secret History of the Mongol Queens.


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Mar 16, 2019
#161 - Mongol 3: The Anda, The Arrow, & The Airag

Temujin will enlist the aid of his recently-sworn father, To'oril AKA Ong Khan of the Kereyid to rescue his stolen wife, Börte. But his successful rescue of his beloved will only mark the beginning of his remarkable journey from isolated herder, to powerful khan of the steppes. Unfortunately, one of the sacrifices he'll be forced to make along the path to power will be that most-sacred: his sworn brotherhood with Jamukha, who will transform from Anda to Nemesis for Temujin.

Time Period Covered:

ca. 1178-1201 CE

Major Historical Figures:


Temujin, Khan of the Borjigin

Börte, wife of Temujin

Ho'elun, mother of Temujin

Khasar, Brother of Temujin

Belgutei, Half-Brother of Temujin

Jelme, Companion of Temujin

Bo'orchu, Companion of Temujin

Jochi, Temujin's first-born son(?)


To'oril, Khan of the Kereyid (Ong Khan)


Jamukha (Gurkhan)


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Mar 09, 2019
#160 - Mongol 2: The Black Sable

In spite of difficulties, Ho'elun and her family endeavor to persevere. Temüjin discovers the power of friendship, and the clarity of purpose that comes with true love <3.


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Feb 25, 2019
#159 - Mongol 1: The Blood Clot

High in the wildlands of the Khentii Mountains, a tribe of hunters and scavengers comes into possession of a young and captured bride. Ripped out of her old life, she and the family her new husband create at the edge of the world will have to find a way to survive.

Time Period Covered:

ca. 1158~1170 CE


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Feb 17, 2019
#158 - S. Song 5: A Changing of the Guard

Both Song and Jin have a new set of emperors at the helm... it will mean war... and peace... but the riptides of history will ensure that, whatever the outcome of this conflict, very little will remain the same for much longer.

Time Period Covered: ~1140-1162 CE


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Feb 14, 2019
#157 - S. Song 4: Peace at What Cost?

Emperor Gaozong really, *really* wants his dad's coffin.

Qin Hui really, *really* wants to give the Jurchen whatever they ask for.

The Jurchen really, *really* want the Mongol khan to stop tweaking their emperor's beard.

Time Period Covered: 1135-1160 CE

Major Works Cited:

Allsen, Thomas. “Chapter 4: The rise of the Mongolian empire and Mongolian rule in north China” in Vol. 6, Alien Regimes and Border States.

Franke, Herbert. “Chapter 3: The Chin Dynasty” in Vol. 6, Alien Regimes and Border States.

Tao, Jing-Shen. “The Move to the South and the Reign of Kao-Tsung” in Vol. 5, the Sung Dynasty and Its Precursors.


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Jan 23, 2019
#156 - S. Song 3: Yue Fei, Pt. 2 - The Long-Legged Treachery

General Yue Fei will reach career highs as he strikes back against Jurchen aggression with remarkable success. He'll drive his enemies so fast and hard, that he'll drive the Jin Dynasty close to its breaking point. But on the precipice of victory, ministerial machinations back in Hangzhou will spell the undoing of him and his life's work...


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Dec 21, 2018
#155 - S. Song: Yue Fei, Pt. 1-The Flying Fury

In this first of a two-part look into the life and legend of this epic Chinese hero, we chronicle Yue Fei's early life and education, his induction into the military to serve his nation with utmost loyalty, his meteoric rise through the ranks, and his stalwart resolve in facing the greatest crisis his country his known in centuries, all while garnering a cult-like following of soldiers, and the panicked attention of the imperial court.

Time Period Covered:

1103-1137 CE

Major Works Cited:

Foster, Robert W. The Human Condition in Premodern China.

Jenne, Jeremiah. “The Execution of Yue Fei: 875 Years of Patriotic Myth” from

Li, Xiaobi. China at War.

Lorge, Peter. War, Politics and Society in Early Modern China, 900-1795.

Mote, Fredrick W. “Ch. 13: The Southern Song and Chinese Survival” in

Imperial China 900-1800.

Tao, Jing-shen. “The Move to the South and the Reign of Kao-tsung” in The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 05: The Sung Dynasty and Its Precursors, 907-1279.

Wills, Jr., John E. E. Mountain of Fame: Portraits in Chinese History.

Zhou, Zuoren, trans. Tim Cronen. “A View of the Hero Yue Fei and the Traitor Qin Hui” in The China Heritage Quarterly No. 28, December 2011.


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Dec 08, 2018
#154 - S. Song 1: Song of the South

The JURCHEN JIN reigns. Having decimated the Song Dynasty, Emperor Jin Taizong now deploys his merciless legions to seize military control of the Yellow River Valley.

Only Prince Zhao Gou and his band of LOYALIST ministers stand against the rising tyranny, certain that the last scion of Zhao can yet restore a spark of hope to the fight.

But the Loyalists have been exposed. As the Jin cavalry speeds toward Yintian Fu, the brave heroes mount a desperate escape....

Historical Period Covered:

1127-1130 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Song Dynasty:

Prince Zhao Gou, Prince of Kang (Emperor Gaozong of Song) [r. 1129-1162]

Chancellor Li Gang [1083-1140]


General Zong Ze, He Tried [d. 1129]

General Du Cheng, Brave Sir Du Cheng Ran Away... Bravely Ran Away, Away!

General Han Shizheng, He Means Business

Jin Dynasty:

Emperor Taizong of Jin (Wuqimai) [r. 1123-1135]

Prince Wanyan Wuzhu, Commander of Jin Strikeforce [d. 1148]

Zhang Bangchang, Puppet Emperor of Great Chu [r. 1129-1129]


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Nov 19, 2018
#153 - N. Song 18: Requiem for Jingkang

The Song Dynasty manages to epically pull defeat from the jaws of victory when it manages to twice goad its nominal ally, the Jurchen Jin, into a border war. The first time, it’s beaten so badly that it has to give up almost half of its northern holdings. But when even that’s not enough to quench Emperor Qinzong’s delusions of grandeur, he and his regime will pay with everything they have…

Time Period Covered: 

1125-1127 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Northern Song:

Emperor Huizong of Song (Zhao Ji) [r. 1100-1126, ret. Emperor 1126-1127]

Emperor Qinzong of Song (Zhao Huan) [r. 1126-1127]

General Tong Guan [1054–1126]

General Wang Bing [d. 1126]

Jurchen Jin:

Emperor Taizong of Jin (Wuqimai) [r. 1123-1135] 

Prince Wanyan Zonghan (Nianhan) [1080-1136]

Prince Wanyan Zongwang (Wolibu) [c. 1073-1133?]

Zhang Bangchang, Puppet Emperor of Chu [1081–1127]

Major Works Cited:

Levine, Ari Daniel. “The Reigns of Hui-Tsung and Ch-in-Tsung” in The Cambridge History of China, Vol.05: The Sung Dynasty and Its Precursors, 907–1279. Part 1.

Lorge, Peter Allen. War, Politics, and Society in Early Modern China, 900-1795

Tao, Jing-shen. “The Move to the South and the Reign of Kao-Tsung (1127–1162)” in The Cambridge History of China, Vol.05: The Sung Dynasty and Its Precursors, 907–1279. Part 1.

Various. the Accounts of Jingkang


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Nov 06, 2018
#152 - Special: Strange Tales 3.5 [NSFW]

A very sexy Halloween edition...

Stir Fry - 1:45

Steel Skin - 4:15

Silkworm - 5:35


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Oct 28, 2018
#151 - Special: Strange Tales 3

Our third entry of Seasonal Spookiness for your unsettling aural pleasure.

From Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio (聊齋志異) by: Pu Songling

1:25 - "The Girl in Green"

8:30 - "A Very Sharp Sword"

10:45 - "He Came Back"

18:25 - "A Transformation"

22:45 - "Mr. Miao"

34:05 - "A Prank"


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Oct 15, 2018
#150 - N. Song 17: Smoke On the Water Margin

Emperor Huizong’s Song Dynasty’s luck runs dry with a series of epic screw up that throw the whole system in disarray. War with the Tangut Xi Xia goes badly awry – and his generals won’t even tell him about it. And then rebellions start breaking out in the south – on by a millennialist death-cult led by a 12th century Jim Jones: Fang La… and another breaking out in the swamps and marshes of Liangshan, and led by Chinese Robin Hood of literary fame: Song Jiang. All of this will throw the Song military's carefully laid plans against the crumbling Khitan Liao into disarray, and make their would-be allies the Jurchen Jin wary of how reliable a partner the Chinese might actually be.

Time Period Covered: 1103-1123 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Emperor Huizong of Song (Zhao Ji) [r. 1100-1126]

Chancellor Cai Jing [1047-1126]

General Tong Guan, Commander of the Imperial Armies, eunuch [1054-1126]

Fang La, lacquer farmer-cum-millenialist death-cult leader and rebel commander, mad as hell and not going to take it anymore [d. 1121]

Song Jiang, Liangshan rebel commander, Leader Star of Destiny, “Timely Rain,” Haohan Hero [d. ca. 1123]

"Chapter/Poetry Music" "Spring River Flower Moon Night" 古筝 - 春江花月夜 - played on guzheng


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Oct 05, 2018
#149 - N. Song 16: Empire of Black & Gold

To the north of Song China, sandwiched between Goryeo Korea and the invincible Liao Empire, a new force arises on the banks of the Black and Gold Rivers, that will shake the very foundations of All Under Heaven...

Time Period Covered:

1099-1123 CE


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Sep 23, 2018
#148 - N. Song 15: A Campaign of Dunces

With Wang Anshi out of the picture, Emperor Shenzong's ministers find to their horror that theg uy they thought was radicalizing the monarch... had actually be holding him back this whole time. Now there's nothing to stop Shenzong from fulfilling his lifelong ambition to conquer Western Xia... nothing, that is... except the idiocy of the commanders he'll put in charge of the operation.


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Sep 02, 2018
#147 - N. Song 14: The New Policies, Pt. 3

Wang Anshi's heady, glorious dream at last comes crashing into the cold, mechanical reality of imperial bureaucracy, to everyone's chagrin.


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Aug 15, 2018
#146 - N. Song 13: The New Policies, Pt. 2

Wang Anshi weilds his newfound power to implement, through his hand-picked Finance Planning Commission, a sweeping series of reforms aids at revitalizing that dynasty's sagging economy. They'll include a government loan program, new tax policies to pay for laborers, a rethink of the state's very relationship with commerce and traders, and a re-formatting of the empire's volunteer self-defense forces.

Time Period Covered:

1069-1073 CE


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Jul 25, 2018
#145 - N. Song 12: The New Policies, Pt. 1

In this first part of a mini-arc, southern provincial nobody Wang Anshi rises above his station and attracts both the curiosity and the attention of Emperor Shanzong and his court by laying out a bold new vision to lead the Song Dynasty out of its economic malaise before disaster inevitably strikes. But when neither Wang nor his critics are willing to give an inch on their principles, sparks fly...

Time Period Covered: 

1021-1070 CE

Relevant Historical Figures:

Emperor Shenzong of Song (Zhao Xu) [r. 1067 - 1085]

Wang Anshi, Economic Maverick [1021-1086]

Sima Guang, Conservative Historian [1019-1086]

Ouyang Xiu, "Old Drunkard" [1007-1072]


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Jul 20, 2018
#144 - N. Song 11: Only A Northern Song

"Like milk on a hot day in San Diego, it turned out that Emperor Yingzong was a bad choice."

Time Period Covered: 1063-1067 CE

Important Historial Figures:


Emperor Renzong (Zhao Zhen)[r. 1022-1063]

Emperor Yingzong (Zhao Shu)[r. 1063-1067]

Emperor Shenzong (Zhao Xu) [r. 1067-1085]

Empress Cao [1016-1079]

Chancellor Han Qi(韩琦)[1008-1075]

Prime Minister Fu Bi

Chief Censor Sima Guang [1019-1086]

Minister Ouyang Xiu [1007-1072]

Western Xia:

Li Liangzuo (Weiming Liangzuo)[b. 1046, r. 1048-1067]


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Jun 30, 2018
#143 - N. Song 10: Inertia, Inaction, Insurrection

Emperor Renzong of Song continues to twiddle his thumbs. Confucianism get a much-needed adrenaline shot to the arm via Daoism. Zhuang superpatriot Nong Zhigao declares simultaneous war on China and Vietnam in the name of his people's liberation.

Time Period Covered:

1043-1054 CE


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Jun 15, 2018
#142 - N. Song 9: Dithering the War Away

Emperor Renzong of Song isn't exactly... into the whole "rule" thing. He'd much rather wile away his days talking about Confucian philosophy, writing calligraphy, and making love to his concubines. But he'll be forced to uneasily embody the might of Song China when the Tangut state of Western Xia declares its independence, triggering a massive conflict on the borderlands.

Time Period Covered:

1033-1044 CE

Major Historical Figures:


Emperor Renzong

Chancellor Li Yijian

Fan Zhongyan, Commander of Yanan Circuit

Xi Xia:

Li Yuanhao (Weiming Nangxiao), Emperor of Xia


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May 20, 2018
#141 - N. Song 8: Childless Mother of the World

When Emperor Renzong of Song takes the throne, he's just a boy of 12 and surely in need of his mother's guidance... but how long until Mom becomes more of a hinderance than a help? ... And what if she's not really his mother?

Time Period Covered:

1022-1033 CE

Important Historical Figures:

Emperor Renzong of Song [Zhao] (r. 1022-

Empress Dowager Liu (-1033)

Lady Li (-1032)

Chancellor Ding Wei

Chancellor Wang Zeng

Assistant Minister of the Palace Library, Lu "Fish-Head" Zongdao (-1029)

Sun Shi, Director of Education


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May 02, 2018
#140 - Special: Turn Of The Millennium Q&A

A Q&A like this only comes around once in a thousand years!


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Apr 24, 2018
#139- N. Song 7: The Heavenly Text Affair

After feeling forced to sign the costly and humiliating Treaty of Chanyuan with the Liao Dynasty to end the Liao-Song War, Emperor Zhenzong needs a pick-me-up to make himself feel better. He thinks that a ritual that hasn't been performed in 3 centuries might be the way... and that's when the text messages from Heaven start popping up in his inbox...

Time Period:

1004-1022 CE

Major Historical Figures

Emperor Zhenzong of Song (Zhao Heng)[r. 997 - 1022]

Wang Qinruo, Minister of Grand Ritual [c. 962 – 1025]

Chancellor Kou Zhun [c. 961 – 1023]

Du Hao, Imperial Antiquarian.

Minister Sun Shi, Grand Imperial Buzzkill.

Major Works Cited:

Cahill, Suzanne E. "Taoism at the Sung Court: The Heavenly Text Affair of 1008" in Bulletin of Sung and Yüan Studies, No. 16.

Choi, Mihwa. Death Rituals and Politics in Northern Song China.

Lau Nap-Yin and Huang K'uang-Chung. "Founding and Consolidation of the Sung Dynasty" in The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 5: The Sung Dynasty and Its Precursors, Part 1.

Li, Tao. Xu Zizhi Tongjian Changbian ("The Extended Continuation of the Comprehensive Mirror in Aid of Government")

Sima, Guang. Sushui Jiwen ("Records of Rumors from Sushui").

Toqto'a and Alutu. Songshi ("The History of the Song").


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Apr 01, 2018
#138 - N. Song 6: Peace In Our Time

The new Song Emperor, Zhenzong, sits uneasily on the Chinese throne after his father’s untimely death in 997. But court intrigues and attempted coups will only be the tip of the iceberg for this untested and unlikely sovereign, because the Liao Dynasty to the north has its eyes and hearts set on revenge for Chinese slights, and will send a massive force bent on crushing Song resistance to their will.

Time Period Covered:

997-1005 CE


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Mar 11, 2018
#137 - N. Song 5: A Song of Rice and Flour

"Rice is great if you're really hungry and want eat 2,000 of something." - Mitch Hedberg


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Mar 01, 2018
#136 - N. Song 4: E Pluribus Xia

To the Northwest of the Song Empire, a group of non-Chinese known as the Tanguts have long been subject to the whims and subjugations of their greater neighbors. But with the Chinese focused on their struggle against the Khitan Liao, and the Tibetans and Uighur states having collapsed to the far west, the Tanguts need to unite - in spite of their often fractious nature - if they're to seize the moment and carve out their place in history.

Time Period Covered: ~735-1001 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Song Dynasty:

Emperor Taizong of Song (Zhao Jiong) [r. 976-997]

Emperor Zhenzong of Song (Zhao Heng) [r. 997-1022]

Western Xia:

Governor-General Tuoba Sigong (Li Sigong)of Dingnan, Duke of Xia [d. 886?]

Li Yiyin/Yixin, Prince of Xia (posthumous) [d. 967]

Li Kerui, Governor-General of Xia [r.967-978]

Li Jiqian, rebel leader against Song Dynasty[963–1004]

Li Deming (post. Emperor Taizong of Western Xia), founder of Xi Xia Dynasty [981–1032]


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Feb 01, 2018
#135 - N. Song 3: A Lesser Empire

Song's second emperor, Taizong, wants to achieve the heights of Chinese glory, power, and territory just like the Tang and Han before him. But aspirations are easier than results, and he's going to have to contend with neighbor states on all sides far more powerful than his predecessors - and with his own position far weaker. Still it's either that or the utterly unthinkable: acknowledge that China is no longer the preeminent superpower of the East, but now just one state among equals.

Time Period Covered:

976-986 CE


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Jan 03, 2018
#134 - N. Song 2: Golden Cupboard, Flickering Shadows

Zhao Kuangyin has seized the north and now aims to reunify China under his new Song Dynasty by smashing the south. And it’s super effective! But when a strange order of succession leaves question mark surrounding his legacy, it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen next.

Time period covered:

960-976 CE

Major Historical Figures

Emperor Taizu of Song (Zhao Kuangyin) [r. 960-976]

Emperor Taizong of Song (Zhao Guangyi) [r. 976-997]

Prince Zhao Dezhao [951-979]

Chancellor Zhao Pu [922-992]

Liu Chang, Emperor of Southern Han [r. 958-972]

War Elephants!!!

Li Yu, King of Southern Tang [r. 961-976]


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Dec 14, 2017
#133 - N. Song 1: The Coup at Chen Bridge

The Duke of Song Circuit and Grand Marshal of the armies of Later Zhou is dispatched by the 6-year-old emperor and his mom to the northeast to investigate and drive out a reported incursion by the Khitan Liao and their Northern Han allies. But he won’t make it very far at all before the nature of his mission changes dramatically…

Time Period Covered:

960-962 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Emperor Gong of Later Zhou (Guo Zongxun) [r. 959-960, d. 973]

Zhao Kuangyin (Emperor Taizu of Song) [r. 960-976]

Zhao Kuangyi (Guangyi) [939-997]

Zhao Pu (922-992)

Governor Li Yün of Luzhou [d. 960]

Governor Li Chengjin of Yanzgzhou [d. 960]


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Nov 19, 2017
#132 - 5D10K 9: The Southern Kingdoms

We round out our overview of the 10 Kingdoms of the south by looking at the trials and tribulations of Chu, Former & Later Shu, Jingnan, and Southern Han’s travails against Annam… but little do they know, they’re one and all riding for a fall…

Time Period Covered:

870-960 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Huang Chao


Governor Liu Jianfei,

King Ma Yin,

Minister Gao Yu,

King Ma Xifan,

Prince Ma Xi’ou,

King Ma Xiguang

Former/Later Shu:

King Wang Jian (“Bandit Wang Eight”) [r. 903-918],

Minister Feng Juan,

Minister Wei Zhuang,

King Wang Yan [r. 918-925]

King Meng Zhixiang [r. 933-965]

Governor Dong Chang [d. 930]


King Gao Zhichang [r. 907-]

King Gao Congmei

Southern Han:

Governor Liu Qian, of the Man People [d. 896]

Prince Liu Yin of Nanhai [r. 896-911]

Emperor Liu Yan, “The Heavenly Dragon” [r. 911-942]

Emperor Liu Hongdu [r. 942-960]

Annam (N. Vietnam):

Governor Duong Dinh Nghe [d. 938]

Ngo Quyen [r. 939-]


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Nov 06, 2017
#131 - 5D10K 8: The Southeast

We sweep over 4 of the southern kingdoms along the southeastern coast.

WuYüe: which remains rich and prosperous owing to its favorable trade and geographic positions at the mouth of the Yangtze.

Wu: which starts off strong only to be subsumed from within, giving way to Southern Tang.

Min: whose coastal location is fatally undermined by it own geographic atomization, unto civil war, breakup, and destruction.


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Oct 22, 2017
Strange Tales 2: The Living Dead


Worst. Hotel room. EVER!


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Oct 17, 2017
#130 - 5D10K 7: South Before North

With the rise of the last of the 5 Dynasties, Later Zhou, the North China Plains is able to go onto the offensive for the first time in decades; not against the endless expanses of the northern steppes, but a new strategy to reinvigorate the north by seizing the fertile and as of yet untouched reaches of the southern kingdoms, who are ripe for the plucking. Through it all, a brilliant military commander by the name of Zhao Kuangyin will prove his valor and skill, and is ultimately rewarded with a fateful governorship to the city of Song.

Time Period Covered:

954-959 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Later Zhou:

Chai/Guo Rong (Emperor Shizong) [r. 954-959]

Chancellor Wang Pu [d. 957]

General Zhao Kuangyin

Southern Tang:

Li Jing (Emperor Yuanzong) [r. 943-961]

Northern Han:

Liu Chong (Emperor Shizu) [r. 951-954/5]

Liu Jun (Emperor Ruizong) [r. 955-968]


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Oct 08, 2017
#129 - 5D10K6: Emperor Jerky

Emperor Deguang of Liao has conquered the North China Plain with ease and packed the Later Jin emperor off to eternal exile. But he doesn’t plan to stick around… instead, he’ll pack up everything – and everyone – he deems valuable to take back home. But when illness strikes him dead, new challengers will arise to do battle over the fate of northern China.

Time Period Covered:


Major Historical Figures:


Yelü Deguang (Emperor Taizong) [r. 927-947]

Yelü Ruan (Wuyu, Emperor Shizong) [r. 947-951]

Yelü Jing (Emperor Muzong) [r. 951-969]

General Xiao Han [d. 949]

General Zhang Yanze [d. 947]

Later Han:

Liu Zhiyuan (Emperor Gaozu) [r. 947-948]

Liu Chengyou (Emperor Yin) [r. 948-951]

Northern Han:

Liu Chong (Emperor Shizu) [r. 951-954]

Later Zhou:

Guo Wei (Emperor Taizu) [r. 951-954]

Chai/Guo Rong (Emperor Shizong) [r. 954-959]

Sources Utilized:

Sima Guang, et al. 1084. Zizhi Tongjian (Comprehensive Mirror in Aid of Governance).

Standen, Naomi. 2009. “The Five Dynasties”  in The Cambridge History of China, vol. 5, pt. 1: The Sung Dynasty and Its Precursors 907-1279 (Denis Twitchett and Paul Jakov Smith, ed.)

Standen, Naomi. 2005. “What Nomads Want: Raids, Invasions and the Liao Conquest of 947” in Mongols, Turks, and Others: Eurasian Nomads and the Sedentary World (Reuven Amitai and Michal Biran, ed.)

Toqto’a (Tuotuo), et al. 1344. Liao Shi (History of the Liao).


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Sep 29, 2017
#128 - 5D10K 5: The Exiled Emperor

Later Jin seems to have its bed made within its steadfast alliance with Liao - in spite of the humiliating stipulations such a relationship imposes onto a proud Son of Heaven. Yet when Later Jin's first emperor dies, his replacement will do his level-best to unmake all the gains his nation has made... at his own peril.

Time Period Covered:

937-947 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Later Jin:

Shi Jingtang (Emperor Gaozu of Later Jin) [r. 936-942 CE]

Shi Chonggui (Emperor Chu of Later Jin) [r. 942-947 CE]

Governor-General An Chongrong [d. 942]

Chancellor Feng Dao [882-954 CE]

General Jing Yanguang [892-947 CE]


Yelü Deguang (Emperor Taizong of Liao) [r. 927-947 CE]


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Sep 11, 2017
#127: 5D10K 4: Towering Inferno

In the state of Later Tang, things go from bad to worse as a revolving door of emperors combines with a suddenly-mercenary imperial guard corps... all to bring the state itself to an untimely, but fiery, demise.

Time Period Covered:

926-937 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Emperor Mingzong of Later Tang (Li Siyuan)[r. 926-933]

Prince Li Congrong [d. 933]

Emperor Li Conghou of Later Tang [r. 933-934]

Chancellor Zhu Hongjiao [d. 934]

Chancellor Feng Yun [d. 934]

Emperor Li Congke of Later Tang [r. 934-936]

Shi Jingtang, Emperor of Later Jin [r. 936-942]

Meng Zhixiang, Emperor of Later Shu [r. 933-934]

Emperor Taizong of Liao (Yelü Guangde) [r. 927-947]


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Aug 24, 2017
#126 - 5D10K 3: Lineage of the Liao

We track the Khitan people of Mongolia/Manchuria from their origins in the mythological mists of pre-history, all the way through their reformation under Abaoji Kaghan into a Chinese-style state, known as the Liao Dynasty.


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Aug 04, 2017
#125 - 5D10K 2: The War for Supremacy

The Later Liang Dynasty is forced back onto the defense following the murder if its first two emperors by its third, coupled with the rise of the latest Prince of Jin, Li Cunxu, who is waging a war to restore the Tang regime. But he’ll be forced to decide whether a restoration premised on putting himself on the throne rather than the old imperial clan can really be called a “restoration” at all.

Time Period Covered:

915-926 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Later Liang Dynasty:

Zhu Wen (Emperor Taizu) [d. 915]

Zhu Youzhen (Emperor Mo) [r. 916-923]

Later Tang Dynasty:

Li Cunxu, Prince of Jin (Emperor Zhuangzong) [r. 923-926]

Li Siyuan (Emperor Minzong) [r. 926-933]

Crown Prince Li Zhizhi [d. 926]

Former Shu Dynasty:

Wang Yen (Emperor Houzhu) [r. 918-925]

Liao Dynasty:

Yelü Abaoji Kaghan (Emperor Taizu of Liao) [r. 907-926]


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Jun 23, 2017
#124 - 5D10K 1: Live By the Sword...

Zhu Wen has proclaimed the dissolution of the Tang and the formation of Later Liang, with him as its Emperor Taizu... but there are more than a few people ready, willing, and able to object rather strongly to that claim...


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Jun 09, 2017
#123 - Tang 34: In the Rearview

We take a sweeping look back at all 289 years of the Tang one more time before pressing into the 5 Dynasties and beyond, and also take a look at some of the aspects of 9th centuryChinese society that are more frequently overlooked... like women's fashion, regional cuisine, playing cards, and toilet paper.


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May 14, 2017
#122 - Special: End of Dynasty Q&A

We've made it to the end of the Tang and questions abound! From portrayals of Han Emperors, to my favorite Emperor, and the best Dynasty EVER, to battle tactics and armor, to grat Chinese kung fu movies and how much a protsitute would have been worth... we've had a whole host of excellent questions that I do my very best to answer!



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May 01, 2017
#121 - Tang 33: Tang of the Dead

Take the army, go to the capital, kill the imperial clan, exterminate the eunuchs, usurp the throne, have a nice cold pint and wait for all this to blow over. How’s that for a slice of fried gold?

Time period covered:

888-907 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Emperor Zhaozong of Tang [r. 887-905]

Prince Li Yu [d. 905]

Prince Li Zuo (Emperor Ai) [r. 905-908]

Han Jian, Governor of Hezhong

Li “the One-Eyed Dragon” Keyong, Commander of the Shatuo Turks

Li Maozhen, Governor of Fengxiang

Wang Xingyu, Governor of Pinning

Zhu Wen/Quanzhong/Huang, Governor of Hedong (Emperor Taizu of Later Liang)


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Apr 16, 2017
#120 - Tang 32: A Thousand Cuts

The rebel-general and usurper-emperor Huang Chao will wear out his welcome in Chang’an, and meet his doom in the Valley of Tigers and Wolves… but his reign of terror over the capital will only be the first act of its terrible, drawn out fate – a fate that will mirror the Tang Dynasty’s as a whole. Emperor Xizong, already put to flight once, will return to the capital – only to swiftly find himself on the run yet again as China’s general and governors alike realize that they are no longer servants of the dynasty, but masters of their own domains… if they can hold them.

Time Period Covered:

882-888 CE (“The Era of Radiant Beginnings”)

Major Historical Figures:

Emperor Xizong of Tang (Li Yan) [r. 873-888]

Prince Li Jie (Emperor Zhaozong)

Chief Eunuch Tian Lingzi [d. 893]

Chen Jingxuan, Governor of Sichuan

General Zheng Tian, Commander of the Northwest

General Li Keyong, “The One-Eyed Dragon”, Khan of the Shatuo...  

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Mar 31, 2017
#119 - Tang 31: Reap the Whirlwind
The poison seeds that have been planted across China for the last century and longer will all begin to sprout, as the rebel commander Huang Chao takes command of the latest and greatest of internal threats to imperial stability. Yet it won't be the rebels themselves that will prove the decisive factor in the chaos to come... but instead the Empire's own supposedly "loyal" generals and soldiers... already looking ahead to their own places in the post-Tang world. Time Period Covered: 878-882 CE Major Historical Figures: Tang Dynasty: Emperor Xizong of Tang (Li Yan/Xuan) [r. 874-888] General Zhang Zimian Governor-General Li Tiao of Guangdong [d. 879] General Gao Pian, "The General Who Lost the North" Xi Dynasty: Huang Chao, "The Heaven-Storming General" [d. 884] Sources Referenced: Levy, Howard S. (1955). Biography of Huang Ch'ao Somers, Robert M. (2008). "The end of the T'ang" in The Cambridge History of China, vol. 3: Sui and T'ang China, 589–906 AD, Part One (ed. Denis C. Twitchett) Wei...  

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Mar 15, 2017
#118 - Tang 30: Sow the Wind
Dear empire, we’re having a very mild case of severe rebellion, um, everywhere. But don’t worry, it’s totally under control. Everything’s fine, we’ve got this. Don’t panic. PS, rebel leaders if you’re reading this we’ll give you more than you’ve ever dreamed of if you’ll just stop attacking us, pretty please. But no it’s fine, we’re totally going to win, for sure. PPS, Imperial Army please stop refusing to fight. We’re totally serious about this. Joke’s over, it’s not funny anymore. Fight the rebels or we’re going to be, like, super angry with you. Victory is assured. No problem whatsoever. PPS, local magistrates, please recruit your peasants to fight the rebels – promise them whatever you have to. Seriously, anything. Long live the victorious Tang. No, the plane engines only look like they’re on fire. They’re supposed to look like that. That’s completely normal. Love, Emperor Xizong. Time Period Covered: 873-878 CE Major Historical Figures: Tang Dynasty: Emperor Yizong of Tang [d....  

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Feb 27, 2017
#117 - Tang 29: The Gathering Storm
The Tang Empire enters its death spiral. The cumulative effects of more than a century of economic mismanagement intersects with the peasantry and military's respective gripes with the government to disastrous effects south of the Yangtze River. Rebellions beget further rebellions as the whole enterprise spirals down toward the drainpipe. Time Period Covered: 859-873 CE Major Historical Figures: Emperor Yizong of Tang (Li Wen/Cui) [r. 859-873] Princess Tongcheng [d. 870] General Wang Shi General Zhuye Chixin (later Li Guochang) Governor-General Linghu Tao Qiu Fu, rebel leader, "Grand Generalissimo of the Empire" [d. 860] Pang Xun, rebel leader [d. 869]  

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Feb 11, 2017
#116 - Tang 28: I, Xuānzong
Li Yi was never trained to be emperor. Not only was he the thirteenth son of Xianzong, but he'd been ruthlessly mocked and belittled his whole life by his entire family for being an idiot, an invalid, and a mute. But when his hated nephew dies in 846, he's going to shock the world by revealing he was faking it the whole time, and go on to become the last good emperor of the Tang before its final bow. Time Period Covered: 846-859 CE  

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Jan 22, 2017
#115 - Tang 27: The Third Disaster of Wu
The new Emperor Wuzong will have a lot on his plate right from the get-go. Foreign threats and domestic squabbles will frame his early reign, but it's his own fanatical devotion to Daoism and antipathy to Buddhism that will define his reign. Period Covered: 840-846 CE  

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Jan 08, 2017
#114 - Tang 26: The Sweet Dew Plot
Behind the throne of Tang is where the true power lies in the mid-9th century, among squabbling bureaucrats, shadowy factions, and conniving eunuchs. But this game of shadows is difficult to follow. Nevertheless, when events reach a head in 835 we’ll need to know how all the pieces on the imperial chessboard got where they are, and so we take a look at the real movers and shakers of the late Tang court. Time Period Covered: 808-836 CE Major Historical Figures: Tang Emperors: Emperor Xianzong of Tang (Li Chun) [r. 805-820] Emperor Muzong of Tang (Li Heng/You) [r. 820-824] Emperor Jingzong of Tang (Li Zhan) [r. 824-827] Emperor Wenzong of Tang (Li Han/Ang) [r. 827-840] Crowned Prince Li Yong [d. 838] Emperor Wuzong (Li Chan) [r. 840-846] Niu Faction Officials: Niu Sengru, Duke of Qizhang Li Zhongmin Li Xun [d. 835] Li Faction Officials: Li Jifu, Duke of Wei [d. 814] Li Deyu, Duke of Wei Nonaligned Officials: Zheng Zhu [d. 835] Eunuch Officials: Wang Shucheng [d. 835] Qiu Shiliang, Duke of Chu  

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Dec 13, 2016
#113 - Tang 25: The Longshoreman's Prophecy
In the wake of Emperor Xianzong’s unexpected death in 820, his work remains unfinished… and now left in the hands of his incapable, incompetent successors. The eunuchs are hard at work securing ultimate authority for themselves, and have no time for a strong central leader, and the Governor-generals of the northeast are eager to get out from under the imperial thumb once again. Into all this madness, a dock-worker, a fortuneteller, and an army of vagabonds will make a quixotic bid for the throne. Time Period Covered: February, 820- January, 827 CE Important Historical Figures Emperor Muzong of Tang (Li Heng) [r. 820-824] Emperor Jingzong of Tang (Li Zhan) [r. 824-827] Emperor Wenzong of Tang (Li Ang) [r. 827-840] Prince Li Han of Jiang [d. 827] Eunuch-Official Liang Shoujian Eunuch Official Liu Keming [d. 827] Chief Minister Xiao Mian Su Xuanming, Fortuneteller Extraordinaire [d. 824] Zhang Shao, Unlikely Sitter of Thrones [d. 824] Sources Dalby, Michael T. (1979). “Court politics in late T’ang...  

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Nov 29, 2016
#112 - Tang 24: Make Tang Great Again!
Young Emperor Xianzong has a plan to restore China's supremacy in the 9th century world... and - surprisingly enough - it involves precisely zero walls being built. Time Period Covered: 805-820 CE  

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Nov 08, 2016
#111 - Special: Strange Tales
Today, we veer off our main narrative and into several seasonal tales which celebrate the spooky season in Chinese fashion. We feature a ghostly gathering, a bewitched battle, injurious jests, and lethal looks. Author: Pu Songling [1640-1715 CE] Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio Featuring: The Golden Goblets (begins: 2:15) The Necromancer (begins: 13:30) The Killing Joke (begins: 21:15) The Painted Skin (begins:  

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Oct 23, 2016
#110 - Tang 23: Where the Wangs Went Wrong
We take a look at the final years of Emperor Dezong's reign, his political successes and failures, and the strange, mysterious,short-lived Wang Party that would seize control over government for about 5 minutes before being kicked out by Dezong's grandson Xianzong. Also, we have a paralyzed, mute emperor, so there's that, too! Time Period Covered: ca. 790-806 CE Major Historical Figures: Tang Dynasty: Li Kuo, Emperor Dezong of Tang [r. 780-805] Li Song, Emperor Shunzong of Tang [r. 805] Li Chun, Emperor Xianzong of Tang [r. 805-820] Dou Wenchang, Eunuch Protector of the Army Huo Xianming, Eunuch Protector of the Army Wang Shuwen, Wang Party Founder Wang Pi, Wang Party Member Tibetan Empire: Prime Minister Shang Jiecan (Shan-rgyal-btsan) Uyghur Khannate: Tun-Baga-Tar Khan Dalby, Richard. "Court Politics in Late Tang Times" in The Cambridge history of China vol. 3 Zizhi Tongjian Jiu Tangshu Wang, Yunsheng (1963). "Second Treatise on the historic Significane of that Bastard Sima's Political Innovations"...  

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Oct 15, 2016
#109 - Tang 22: Innie or Outie?
Dezong has had it up to here with his mumbling, bumbling, stumbling courtiers and their inability to solve the empire’s problems. So he’s going to give them 3 last shots to prove the worth of the bureaucracy, and when they strike out, he’ll turn toward his private inner count to make the Tang Empire great again. Time Period 786-795 CE Major Historical Figures: Emperor Dezong of Tang [r. 779-805] Chancellor Cui Zao (term of office: 785-787, exiled and d. 787) Chancellor Li Mi [term: 787-789, d. 789] Chancellor Dou Can [term: 789-792, d. 793 by forced suicide] Chancellor Lu Zhi [term: 792-794, exiled] Director of Finances Pei Yanling [792-796, d. 796] Major Works Cited: Dalby, Michael T. "Court Politics in Late Tang Times" in The Cambridge history of China, vol. 3. Sima, Guang. Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 234, 235  

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Sep 22, 2016
#108 - Tang 21: General Disaster
The echoes of the An Lushan Rebellion still reverberate destructively through Tang China even three decades after its conclusion. As the new emperor, Dezong, attempts to revitalize the glory days of old, he’ll kick off an new round of wars with the governor-warlords of Hebei who don’t want to have to listen to him anymore. Time Period Covered: 781-785 CE Major Historical Figures: Emperor Dezong of Tang (Li Kuo) [r. 779-805] Li Zhengji, Governor-General of Pinglu [d. 781] Zhu Tao, King of Ji Zhu Ci, Governor-General of Huaixi, Emperor of Qin/Han [d. 785] Duan Xiushi, Tang double-agent [d. 783] General Li Huaiguang General Li Sheng  

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Sep 05, 2016
#107 - Tang 20: This Is Only a Test
Today we explore the insanely difficult, stressful, byzantine... and sometimes fatal... world of the would-be imperial official as they attempt to climb their way through the labyrinth of tests explicitly designed to fail them out. One unlikely success of this system is Yuan Zai, who will going from impoverished nobody to Chancellor of the Empire... all before getting his head lopped off. We then finish out Emperor Daizong's time on the throne before the reign of his son Emperor Dezong. Time Period Covered: 762-781 CE Major Historical Figures: Emperor Daizong of Tang (Li Yu) [r. 762-779] Emperor Dezong of Tang (Li Kuo) [r. 779- 805] Chancellor Yuan Zai [d. 777] General Guo Ziyi [d. 781] Major Works Cited: Dalby, Michael T. "Court Politics in Late Tang Times" in The Cambridge history of China, vol. 3. Miyazaki, Ichisada. China's Examination Hell. Sima, Guang. Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 225.  

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Aug 21, 2016
#106 - Tang 19: Not Quiet on the Western Front
You would think that finally quelling the largest rebellion on Earth would by the realm back into peaceful harmony. Unfortunately for the Tang, you’d be wrong. While China was forced to spend every waking moment in the Northeast desperately trying to drive back An Lushan for the past 7 years, the Tibetans went ahead and moved in from the West, cutting off Chinese access to the Far West Protectorate, and by 763 poised to deliver a devastating broadside to the already-devastated Tang Empire. And as if that’s not enough, in the middle of all this, a loyal military commander has false accusations of treason leveled against him by a paranoid regional official, but then through a series of zany happenstances is forced to actually rebel against the government for fear of being convicted and killed for the initial false charges. This is why we can’t have nice things… Time Period Covered: 763~770 CE Major Historical Figures: Tang Empire: Emperor Daizong of Tang (Li Yu) [r. 762-779] Crowned Prince Li...  

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Aug 07, 2016
#105 - Tang 18: Retrospective
Before getting into the latter half of the Tang Dynasty, we take a look back at the 175 years we’ve covered since the Sui first reunified China at the conclusion of the Period of Disunion. Join us on this high-altitude, rapid journey charting the highs and lows the the 2 & a half dynasties we’ve looked at since Episode 76. Time Period Covered: 581-764 CE Major Historical Figures: Sui Dynasty: Emperor Wen (Yang Jian) [r. 581-604] Emperor Yang (Yang Guang) [r. 604-617] Tang Dynasty: Emperor Gaozu (Li Yuan) [r. 618-626] Princess Pingyang [d. 623] Emperor Taizong (Li Shimin) [r. 627-649] Emperor Gaozong (Li Zhi) [r. 650-683] Emperor Zhongzong (Li Xian) [r. 684-684] Emperor Ruizong (Li Dan) [r. 684-690] Zhou Dynasty: Empress Regnant Wu Zetian (Wu Meiniang) [r. 690-705] Tang Dynasty (restored): Emperor Zhongzong (Li Xian) [r. 705-710] Emperor Ruizong (Li Dan) [r. 710-712] Princess Taiping [d. 712] Emperor Xuanzong (Li Longji) [r. 712-756] Emperor Suzong (Li Heng) [r. 756-762] Emperor Daizong (Li Yu) [r....  

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Jul 27, 2016
#104 - AnShi 4: Crowns in the Gutters
The AnShi Rebellion grinds on to its bitter conclusion, claiming lives at a rate unprecedented in human history. Crowns and throne will be cast to the wind by fathers and sons alike, and in the end China will before force to decide between national cohesion and national sovereignty… a true devil’s choice, if ever there was one. Time period covered: 756 – 764 CE Major Historical Actors: Tang Dynasty: Retired Emperor Xuanzong [d. 762] Emperor Suzong (Li Heng) [r. 756-762] Emperor Daizong (Li Yu) [r. 762-779] Yan Dynasty An Lushan [d. 757] Emperor An Qingxu [r. 757-759] Emperor Shi Siming [r. 759-761] Emperor Shi Chaoyi [r. 761-763] Uyghur Khaganate Tengri Bügü Khagan [r. 759-779]  

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Jul 18, 2016
#103 - AnShi 3: Strange Bedfellows
Reeling from the loss of both capital cities to the rebel army, Emperor Xuanzong and his heir Li Heng split up. Three days later from the northern garrison at Lingwu, the Crowned Prince declares himself the new emperor, Suzong – surprise, Dad! Newly enthroned, Suzong will be forced to cobble together an unlikely coalition of China’s neighbors in order to have any hope of turning the tide of the civil war that threatens to drown the Tang Dynasty in blood. Arabs, Transoxianans, Ferghanans, and even Uyghur Stepperiders will join forces with a corps of Han Chinese soldiers willing to die to the last man if it means stopping An Lushan and his Yan rebel army in its tracks. Time Period Covered: July 756 – December 757 CE Major Historical Figures: Tang Dynasty: (Retired) Emperor Xuanzong [Li Longji] (r. 712-756, as retired emperor 756-762) Emperor Suzong of Tang [Crowned Prince Li Heng ] (r. 756-762) Crowned Prince Li Yu [b. 727] General Guo Ziyi Yan Dynasty Rebels: An Lushan [d. 757] An Qingxu [r....  

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Jul 11, 2016
#102 - AnShi 2: Song of Everlasting Sorrow
An Lushan marches south, occupying Louyang with blinding speed and leaving the Tang Dynasty reeling. Still, ultimately the tide seems ready to turn against the rebel general and self-styled-Emperor of Yan, until Chancellor Yang Guozhong's bungling ruins absolutely everything. Time Period Covered: Jan-July, 756 Major Historical Actors: Tang Dynasty: Emperor Xuanzong of Tang Chancellor Yang Guozhong (d. 756) Consort Yang Guifei (d. 756) Crowned Prince Li Heng General Feng Chengqian (d. 756) General Gao Xianzhi (d. 756) General Geshu Han Dongan Protectorate/Yang Dynasty An Lushan An Qingzong (d. 756) Major Works Cited: Abramson, Marc S. (2008). Ethnic Identity in Tang China. Chamney, Lee (2012). “The An Shi Rebellion and Rejection of the Other in Tang China, 618-763.” University of Alberta. Pulleyblank, Edwin G. (1976). “The An Lu-Shan Rebellion and the Origins of Chronic Militarism in Late T’ang China” in Essays on Tʻang Society: The Interplay of Social, Political and Economic Forces. Twitchett, Denis....  

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Jun 30, 2016
#101 - AnShi 1: Heart & Belly, Claws & Teeth
The aged Emperor Xuanzong of Tang rest uneasily on his throne as 751 brings not just the sting of defeat at Talas, but also to the far south and northeast. He and his chancellor will become increasingly reliant on the Governor-General of Dongan Protectorate, the Sogdian-Turk An Lushan. But at a time when loyalty, ethnicity, and what it means to be Chinese is increasingly strained, how much pressure can the system take before it snaps? Time Period Covered: 751-755 CE Major Historical Figures: Li Longji (Emperor Xuanzong of Tang) Chancellor Li Linfu (d. 753) Chancellor Yang Guozhong Consort Yang Huiyuan Crowned Prince Li Heng An Lushan, Governor-General of the Andong Protectorate Geshu Han, Governor-General of the Anbei Protectorate An Qingzong (Gen. An’s eldest son and heir) Sources Cited: Abramson, Marc S. (2008). Ethnic Identity in Tang China. Chamney, Lee (2012). “The An Shi Rebellion and Rejection of the Other in Tang China, 618-763.” University of Alberta. Pulleyblank, Edwin G. (1976). “The An...  

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Jun 19, 2016
#100 - Special: Di Yi Bai!
Title Meaning: “Hundredth!” It’s a Q&A between you listeners and myself on topics far and wide! They range from yet further exploration of Empress Wu, to the nature of Chinese alcohol, my favorite Chinese movies, Chinese classes and slavery within the Empire and even today, China’s relations with Southeast Asia and why it seems to be a particularly difficult place to conquer across time, the end of the Ming Dynasty, the surprisingly contentious history of silk, and finally a question likely to land me in hot water: a question on how China might change in the century to come (bring it on, Fifty Cent Party!) Enjoy!  

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Jun 09, 2016
#99 - Tang 17: The Battle of Talas
The armies of the Far West Anxi Protectorate of the Tang face down a force commanded by the ascendant Abbasid Islamic Caliphate, fresh off its victorious insurgency over the Umayyad Caliphate. But in this one and only clash between Chinese and Arab might, the ramifications for both will be felt long after the blood dries on the battlefield along the Talas River. Time Period Covered: May- September, 751 Major Historical Figures: Tang Dynasty – Protectorate of Western Pacification Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (Li Longji) Governor-General Fumeng Lingcha Governor-General Gao Xianzhi (Go Seonji) Bian Lingchen, Court Eunuch on Assignment to Anxi Lieutenant Li Siye Officer Duan Xiushi Transoxiana: Lesser Bolü Kingdom (Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan) Shi Kingdom (Tashkent, Uzbekistan) Turgesh Khannate Karluk (Qarluq) Turks Tibetan Empire Abbasid Islamic Caliphate: Governor Ziyad ibn Salih Major Works Cited: Bartold, Vasily (1928). Turkestan Down to the Mongol Invasion (Trans. T. Minorsky & C.E. Bosworth). Chen...  

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May 29, 2016
#98 - Tang 16: All Along the Watchtowers
We leave the capital behind to take a tour of the Tang Empire’s neighbors, both old and new. A tenuous peace with Tibet leads to a westward push putting the Chinese into contact – and eventual conflict – with the Islamic Abbasid Caliphate. Meanwhile, to the north and east rebellious Khitan tribesmen will spark a huge military buildup in the region under the control of one man, while the former Goguryeo reorganizes itself into the powerful state of Balhae, forcing the Tang Court to re-assess its diplomatic options. Time Period Covered: 730-750 CE Major Historical Figures: Tang Dynasty: Li Longji (Emperor Xuanzong of Tang) [r. 712-756] Gen. Zhang Shougui, Military Governor of Fanyang Gen. An Lushan, Military Governor of Pinglu, Prince of Dongping Tibetan Kingdom Turgesh Kaghanate: Sulu Kaghan [d. 738] Abbasid Islamic Caliphate Second Turkic Kaghanate: Bilgé Kaghan [r. 716-734] Kul Tigin [d. 731] Khitan and Xi Tribes: Ketuyu [d. 733] Balhae Kingdom: King Go [r. 698-719] King Mu [r. 719-737] King...  

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May 17, 2016
#97 - Tang 15: Law & Order: XZU
In the Justice System of the Tang Imperial Court, the throne’s interests are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the Confucians, who argue for traditional ethics, and the Legalists, who argue for the unbending application of the letter of the law. These are their stories… Time Period Covered: 731-740 CE Major Historical Figures: Emperor Xuanzong of Tang Chief Minister Zhang Jiuling Chief Minister Li Linfu Eunuch Commander Gao Lishi General Wang Maozhong Major Sources Cited: Herbert, Penelope A. "A Debate in T'ang Chinaon the State Monopoly on Casting Coin" in T'oung Pao LXII Twitchett, Denis. "Hsuang-Tsüng: The Middle Reign" in The Cambridge history of China, vol. 3 Sima, Guang. Zizhi Tongjian.  

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May 09, 2016
#96 - Tang 14: The Sacrifices of Feng and Shan
Military reforms mark our entrance into Xuanzong’s early-middle reign, which is more or less a basket of unicorn foals: external peace, internal stability… now if only that darned economy would fix itself! But the emperor will turn a fateful corner in the 724, when his official Zhang Yue convinces him to conduct the Feng and Shan Sacrifices: the highest ritual a Chinese ruler could conduct – a sacrifice to Heaven and Earth atop holy Mount Tai. Time Period Covered: 714 – 726 CE Important Historical Figures: Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (Li Longji) [r. 714- ] Empress Wang [d. 724] Lady Wu Chief Minister Zhang Yue Minister Yuwen Rong Minister Cui Yinfu  

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Apr 26, 2016
#95 - Tang 13: Xuanzong Can Fix It!
Wu Zetian’s grandson Li Longji (aka Xuanzong of Tang) is left to pick up the pieces of 50+ years’ worth of overindulgence, royal excess, and the rampant deconstruction of the entire imperial bureaucratic apparatus. Thanks, grandma. Fortunately, he’ll prove uniquely suited to the role of maintenance-man, and under his unexpectedly capable leadership, he’ll reign in his family members, do away with the thousands of excess positions, reform the government, and stabilize the regime. He’s building up to a second Golden Age for the Tang Dynasty… all he has to do is get his obnoxious Aunt Taiping out of the way first… Major Historical Figures Li Longji (Emperor Xuanzong of Tang) [r. 712-756] Princess Taiping [d. 713] Li Dan (Retired Emperor Ruizong) [r. 710-712, d. 716] Yao Chong [650- ] Song Jing [663 - ]  

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Apr 18, 2016
#94 - Tang 12: Two Second Reigns
The Tang Dynasty has been restored following Empress Wu's eldest son's coup d'etat. But dynastic restoration does not equate to societal reformation, and many of the problems Wu inherited or exacerbated remain. Throw into that mix a decade long period of palatial infighting between princes and princesses, and we have a period so chalk full of intrigue, espionage, and assassination... that classical historians have preferred to steer around this decade rather than even deign to acknowledge it. Time Period Covered: 705-712 CE Notable Historical Figures: Deposed Empress Wu Zetian [d. 705] Li Xian (Emperor Zhongzong of Tang) [2nd r. 705-710] Li Dan (Emperor Ruizong of Tang) [2nd r. 710-712] Li Longji (Emperor Xuanzong of Tang) [r. 712- ] Princess Taiping Empress Wei [d. 710] Princess Anlou [d. 710] Wu Sansi [d. 707] Crowned Prince Li Chongjun [d. 707]  

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Apr 06, 2016
#93 - Tang 11: Dynasty of One
Wu Zhao sits on the Throne of Heaven as divine sovereign in her own right. But challenges from expansionistic neighbors such as the Tibetans, the Turks, and the Khitan will throw her regime’s stability into question, an ongoing economic crisis will spiral out of control, and her scandalous affair with two pretty-boy half-brothers will throw the entire imperial court into turmoil, potentially spelling an end to her singular era of rule. Time Period Covered: 690-705 CE Major Historical Figures: Tang/Zhou Dynasty: Wu Zhao [The Holy Empress Regnant Zetian] (r. 690-705) Prince Li Xian [former Emperor Zhongzong] (re-confirmed as heir in 698) Prince Li Dan [former Emperor Ruizong] Princess Taiping Minister Wei Yuancheng Xue Huaiyi, head of White Horse Temple (d. 695) High Inquisitor Lai Junchen (d. 698) Zhang Yizhi (d. 705) Zhang Changzong (d. 705) Turkic Khannate: Qapaghan Khan [Mouchou] (d. 716) Tibetan Empire: Tridu Tsongsan Tsampo [King of Tibet] the mGar Clan (d. 698) Khitan Tribe: Chieftain Li...  

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Mar 21, 2016
#92 - Tang 10: Sage Mother, Divine Sovereign
A white stone bearing a prophecy tells of an era of eternal prosperity, a disastrous rebellion spells the doom of the majority of the imperial Li Clan, an obscure sutra tells of the reincarnation of a goddess to rule over the world, the written word itself is altered to fit the times… all of these are will fit together today to explain how and why the 66-year-old Empress Dowager of Tang will manage to become the first and only woman Emperor of China in the year 690. Time Period Covered: 689-693 Major Historical Figures: Empress-Regnant Wu Zhao of Zhou, Sage Mother, Divine Sovereign, Maitreya the Peerless [r. 690-705] Li Dan (Emperor Ruizong of Tang) [r. 689-690] Chancellor Li Zhaode Chancellor Ji Xu Heir-Expectant Wu Chengsi Prince Li Chuan of Dengzhou [d. 689] Prince Li Cheng [d. 689] Prince Li Chen [d. 689] High Inquisitor Lai Junchen An Jingcan (he has guts) Major Works Cited: Guisso, Richard W. L. “The Reigns of the empress Wu, Chung-tsung and Jui-tsung (684-712)” in The Cambridge History of China...  

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Mar 06, 2016
#91 - Tang 9: Reign of Terror
With her husband dead, Empress Wu is unrivaled in Chang'an, but that situation is tenuous as she has no legal basis for that power. Her eldest (surviving) son will take up the throne as Emperor Zhongzong for... all of two months before she decides he's got to go. Her timid, youngest son will fit her style much better as Ruizong, but when the high lords of the realm are exposed as conspiring against her, she will unleash her full fury on their ranks, employing tactics and methods that will decimate the literati class. Time Period Covered: 683-686 CE Major Historical Figures: Empress Dowager Wu Zhao Li Xian (Emperor Zhongzong) [r. 684] Li Dan (Emperor Ruizong) [r. 684-689] Empress Wei Wei Xuanzhen Li Jingye [d. 684] Chancellor Pei Yan [d. 684] General Cheng Wuding, "Terror of the Turks" [d. 684] High Inquisitor Lai Junchen [d. 697] High Inquisitor Zhou Xing [d. 691] Monk Xue Huaiyi  

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Feb 29, 2016
#90 - Special: Monkey Business
In celebration of the Year of the Monkey, this week we take a look at China's most famous demonic simian, Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, and his Journey to the West guarding the Buddhist monk Xuanzang. Then we'll look at the historical 15 year long westward journey of Xuanzang as he seeks sutras from India to bring enlightenment to China. Time Period Covered: 602-664 CE Major Historical Figures: San Zang Master Xuanzang (Chen Hui) [602-664] Major Fictional Figures: Sun Wukong (The Handsome Monkey King, Mei Hou Wang) Zhu Bajie (Pig of the Eight Commandments) Sha Wujing (The Sandy Friar) Bodhisattva Guanyin (Goddess of Mercy and Compassion) Major Works Cited: Wu, Chang'en, The Journey to the West (1592). Xuanzang, Da Tang Xiyu Ji (Great Tang Records of the Western Regions) (646). "The History of Xuan Zang." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. "Xuanzang (Hsüan-tsang) (602—664 C.E.)"...  

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Feb 19, 2016
#89 - Tang 8: Clash on the Borderlands

Tang China goes to town on its neighbors over the course of the mid-7th century. First, the Western Regions of central Asia will feel the full force of a reunited Middle Kingdom, culminating in the collapse and Chinese annexation of the whole Western Turkic Khannate, putting Chinese borders (briefly) right up against Persia. Then, Emperor Gaozong will commit himself to completing what his father begun: the final destruction of Goguryeo. but this time he'll enlist the aid of South Korean Silla to carve out a toehold on the peninsula to give himself a better shot at success. But when a Japanese war-fleet responds to North Korean pleas for aid, it will be a showdown on the high seas for which Asian power will control the Korean Peninsula. Time Period Covered: 649-673 CE Major Historical Figures: Tang: Emperor Gaozong (Li Zhi) Empress Wu Zhao General Su Dingfang "The Turk Destroyer" General Li Shiji Western Türkic Kaghanate (Onoq): Dielishi Kaghan Shabulou Khan (Ashina Holu) Grousset, René. Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia Karam Skaff. Jonathan. Sui-Tang China and Its Turko-Mongol Relations Ō no Yasumaro, Prince Toneri. Nihon Shoki. Sima, Guang. Zizhi Tongjian Twitchett, Denis (ed.), Weschler, Howard. The Cambridge History of China, vol. 3 Unger, J.M. "The Role of Contact in the Origins of the Japanese and Korean Languages." Yi, Pae-yong. Women in Korean History


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Feb 15, 2016
#88 - Tang 7: Empress Wu Behind The Curtain
The more than two-decade period following Wu Zhao’s ascension as Emperor Gaozong’s empress-consort will serve to point out three things: how weak the emperor is, how powerful Empress Wu has become, and how there is absolutely nothing she won’t do to keep it that way. By the middle of the episode, she’ll be considered even at the time the co-equal ruler of her husband, on of the so-called “Two Holy Ones.” But power is a slippery fish to hang on to… especially when you have no legal means of maintaining it, and several sons just waiting in the wing to snatch it all away. Time Period Covered: 656-683 CE Major Historical Figures: Emperor Gaozong of Tang (Li Zhi) [r. 649-683] Empress Consort Wu Zhao Crowned Prince Li Hong (Emperor Xiaojing [posthumous title]) [652-675] Crowned Prince Li Xián [653-684] Crowned Prince Li Xiǎn (Emperor Zhongzong) [b. 656- , r. 684] Li Zhong, Prince of Liang [d.665] Chancellor Zhangsun Wuji [d. 665] Chancellor Shangguan Yi [d. 665] Chancellor Xu Jingzong [retired...  

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Jan 23, 2016
#87 - Tang 6: Femme Fatale
With Taizong of Tang's death, his ninth son Li Zhi will ascend to the throne as Emperor Gaozong. But his weak will will ensure that his reign will be dominated by those around him. First by his ministerial backers, but more and more by a seductive young concubine who will do anything to win the game of intrigue at the imperial court, and will ruthlessly dispose of anyone who gets in her way.  

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Jan 13, 2016
#86 - Tang 5: Family Matters
Our third and final episode in our suite on Emperor Taizong of Tang, this time focuses on the family crisis that would grip the latter half of his reign, as the ill-fated conquest of Goguryeo raged on in the periphery. His eldest son and heir will prove himself too… well, strange… for anyone to feel comfortable with on the throne. Meanwhile his favorite son will go to any means to secure the top job for himself. In the ensuing brotherly scuffle assassinations will be plotted, banishments pronounced, and the royal family’s trust shattered forever. But who will emerge on top is anyone’s guess… Time Period Covered: 626-649 CE Notable Figures: Tang: Li Shimin (Emperor Taizong) [r. -649] Empress Wende [née Zhangsun] [d. 636] Crowned Prince Li Chengqian [618-645] Li Tai, Prince of Wei [618-652] Li Zhi, Prince of Jin [b. 628] Chancellor Wei Cheng Chancellor Zhangsun Wuji “Chengxin,” Li Chengqian’s singing boy Gegan Chengji, Royal Bodyguard Major Sources Used Chen, Jack Wei. Poetics of...  

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Jan 05, 2016
#85 - Tang 4: The Wild West
1,000,000 show downloads! Emperor Taizong turns outward seeking to re-conquer the lost territories of the late, great Han at its height. But it’s easier said than done: to the west he’ll find that there’s a whole new cast of regional powers ready to stake their own territorial claims… meanwhile to the northeast, his rising ambitions about taking the Goguryeo Kingdom at any cost may lead him to follow in the ruinous footsteps of the Sui instead. And since it’s that time of the year, we’ll finish out with a look at China’s very first encounter with a strange monotheistic religion from the Roman Empire, calling itself Nestorian Christianity. Time Period Covered: 634-649 CE Major Historical Figures: Tang China: Li Shimin (Emperor Taizong of Tang) [r. 626-649] Retired Emperor Gaozu [d. 635] Empress Zhangsun [d. 636] Bod Chen Po (Tibetan Empire): Songtsen Gampo (King of Tibet) Tuyuhun Kingdom: Murong Fuyun Khagan Murong Shun Khan Goguryeo Kingdom: King Yeongyang [d. 618] King...  

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Dec 26, 2015
#84 - Tang 3: The Khan Of Heaven
Li Shimin assassinated his two brothers and put his father out to pasture in order to snag the top job as Emperor Taizong. But a mere three weeks into his reign, this “rock star” monarch will face an existential challenge to his reign and the future of the Tang Dynasty as a whole: the wrath of the Göktürk Khaganate. It will prove to be a wild ride to determine whether Tang China will be doomed to remain a vassal of the Turks, or whether Taizong’s “true vision” will prove enough to rise to the challenge. Time Period Covered: 626-630 CE Major Historical Figures: Tang: Prince Li Shimin [Emperor Taizong] Retired Emperor Gaozu Göktürk Khaganate: Illig Khagan Tölis Khan Liang Dynasty (Turkic Vassal): Emperor Liang Shidu (d. 628) Xueyantuo Tribe (alt. Se-Yento, Syr-Tardush) Uyghur Tribe (alt. Huige, Hui-ho) Khitan Tribe Works Cited: Drompp, Michael. Tang China And The Collapse Of The Uighur Empire: A Documentary History Grousset, René. The Rise and Splendor of the Chinese...  

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Dec 13, 2015
#83 - Tang 2: The Incident at Xuanwu Gate
The Tang will achieve hegemony over the entirety of China’s heartlands, both North and South. But with external foes subdued, simmering tensions within the royal household will begin bubbling to the surface, culminating in a showdown that will decide the future of the Dynasty. Time Period Covered: 618-626 CE Major Historical Figures: Tang Dynasty: Li Yuan (Emperor Gaozu) Crowned Prince Li Jiancheng Prince Li Yuanji Prince Li Shimin Li Xiaogong, Prince of Zhao Guard Captain Yang Wen’gan General Yuchi Jingde Liang Dynasty: Xiao Xian (Emperor of Liang) Gokturk Khannate: Shibi Khan [d. 619] Illig Khan (alt. Xieli) Sources Cited: Weschler, Howard. The Cambridge History of China, vol. 3 (1979). Zhao, Ying and Liu, Shu. Jiu Tangshu (The Old Book of Tang). (945)  

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Nov 30, 2015
#82 - Tang 1: The Tiger's Trap
The Duke of Tang had taken control of China’s primary capital at Chang’an, and is now in position to seize the throne for himself. But even that momentous shift will only mark the beginning of the struggle to reclaim imperial authority and unite China under his single banner. For there are other claimants to the throne, and powerful warlords who have their own designs for China. But it will be in the cauldron of chaos that is the North Plains of the Yellow River that the new Tang Dynasty will truly be put to the test – will it remain a mere regional player in a multi-polar struggle, or does it have what it takes to reforge the nation into its united whole? Period Covered: 617-621 CE Major Historical Figures: Tang: Li Yuan, Duke of Tang (Emperor Gaozu) [566-635CE] Prince Li Shimin Sui: Emperor Yang [d. 617] Emperor Gong [r. 617-619] General Yuwen Huaji [d.] Gansu/Qin: Xue Zhu (Emperor/Warlord of Qin) [d. 618] Xue Rengao [d. 618] Zheng: General Wang Shichong (Emperor/Commandant of...  

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Nov 20, 2015
#81 - Sui 5: Disintegration
With its push against Goguryeo rather catastrophically stalled out, the whole enterprise begins to unravel with spectacular speed for the Sui Dynasty. All the while, its Emperor Yang will maintain a disturbingly unaffected demeanor for the suffering his edicts are creating across the countryside - in large part because his lackeys have created a "reality-distortion filter" around him they'll literally kill to maintain. But elsewhere, agents of insurrection will rise to challenge the waning star that is Sui China, especially in the form of one Li Yuan, the Duke of Tang and his family. Time Period Covered: 614-618 CE Major Historical Figures: Sui Emperor Yang of Sui Empress Xiao Prince Yang You (Emperor Gong) Prince Yang Hao, Prince of Qin General Yuwen Huaji Rebel Tang Forces Li Yuan, Duke of Tang Li Shimin Lady Li/ Pingyang, Commander of the Woman's Army Gokturk Khannate Shibi Khan Works Cited Sima, Guang. Zizhi Tongjian. Wright, Arthur F. The Cambridge History of...  

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Nov 08, 2015
#80 - Sui 4: Ringing Blood From The Stone
Emperor Yang of Sui has ventured forth to the far northeastern border of China in an attempt to rescue his honor from the clutches of the impudent King of Goguryeo, Yeongyang. Little does King Yeongyang know that the Sui Empire has secretly begun construction on a new waterway even more navigable that the first dreaded Grand Canal. When completed, this ultimate weapon will spell certain doom for the small kingdom of Koreans struggling to resist a renewed Chinese domination of East Asia…  

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Nov 02, 2015
#79 - Sui 3: Yang's Imperial Tour
The second emperor of the Sui Dynasty gets bad rap - his postmortem regnal name means "the Slothful" and he's commonly lumped together with the rest of the "bad-last emperors" as being hedonistic, wasteful, and just generally monstrous. But is this really the case, or was Emperor Yang the victim of a historical hatchet job? Today we look at the upbringing and early life of Prince Yang Guang, his unlikely rise to power, and then the early period of his reign over China as Emperor Yang, and how he picked up where his father had left off in trying to reignite the glory of the ancient Han. Time Period Covered: 605-609 CE Important Figures: Sui Yang Jian (Emperor Wen of Sui) [d. 605] Empress Dugu [d. 602] Yang Guang (Emperor Yang of Sui) [r. 605-618] Empress Xiao General Yang "Axe Man" Su Intelligence Chief Pei Ju Japan Prince Shotoku [Sovereign of Nihon] Gökturk Khannate Qimin Khan [alt. Yami Khan] Goguryeo Kingdom (North Korea and Manchuria) King Yeongyang Works Cited Sima...  

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Oct 28, 2015
#78 - Sui 2: Reconstruction
Today we finish out out look into the reign of the Sui Dynasty’s founding emperor, Wen. We begin first with the military roferms he imposed on his newly reunited state, mirroring those he made to the civil government. Once completed, Sui China will find itself on a footing it hasn’t reliably been for centuries: outward-facing and expansionist. The repercussions of this epochal change in circumstance for Chine will be felt across the globe. Time Period Covered: 581-605 CE Major Historical Figures: Sui Dynasty Yang Jian (Emperor Wen of Sui) [r. 581-605 CE] Crowned Prince Yang Guang Prince Yang Yong General Yang Su General Liu Fang Champa Kingdom King Çambhuvarman Major Works Cited: Hirth, Friedrich (1913). “The Mystery of Fu-Lin” in The Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 33. Pp. 133-208. URL: Arthur F. Wright, Chaffee and Twitchett (ed.) The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 3 (1979)

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Oct 18, 2015
#77 - Sui 1: Internal Affairs
Emperor Wen of Sui is potentially the most important monarch you've never heard of. For him, militarily reuniting China wasn't his legacy - it was his prelude. Both pre- and post-reunification, we explore the internal facets of his truly impressive reign today: his origins, personality, outlook, confidantes, the existential problems he inherited from the Period of Disunion, and the novel, world-changing solutions he'd craft to ensure China's reunification would be factual, rather than just rhetorical. Time Period Covered: 581-600 CE Major Figures Yang Jing (Emperor Wen of Sui)[r. 581-604] Empress Dugu Qieluo Gao Jiang Yang Su Su Wei Li Delin Arthur F. Wright, Chaffee and Twitchett (ed.) The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 3 (1979)  

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Oct 08, 2015
#76 - S&N 20: Taking Stock
So what does it all mean? Before stepping boldly into the Sui Dynasty, we take this episode to pan out to low-Earth orbit and watch the macro-developments of the past 300-plus years of Disunity, reviewing the dramatic sweep of a period of time often left out of many Western historical understandings of Chinese history due to is sheer complexity and confusing nature. Time Period Covered: 220-589 CE  

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Sep 29, 2015
#75 - S&N 19: Reunion
Northern Zhou seems to have plotted a course for ultimate victory in the contest between the Northern and Southern Dynasties, having already annexed Northern Qi and turned its sights on Chen to the south. But it’s amazing how quickly dynastic fortunes can reverse themselves, and the Yuwen Clan’s line of emperors find itself stopped short, destroyed not by external threat but from an enemy within: the Duke of Sui, the man who would be Emperor of all China. Time Period Covered: 577-589 CE Major Figures: Northern Zhou: Yuwen Yan (Emperor Xuan; “The Responsible”) [r. 577-578, as Retired Emperor Tianyuan; “The Heavenly and Fundamental” r. 578-580] Yuwen Chan (Emperor Jing; “The Silent”) [r. 578-581] Gen. Yuchi Jiong [d. 580] Gen. Yin Shou Sui: Duke Yang Jiang of Sui (Emperor Wen; “The Cultured”) [regent of Northern Zhou 580-581, Emperor of Sui r. 581-604] Chen: Chen Xu (Emperor Xuan; “The Responsible”) [r. 569-582] Chen Shubao (Houzhu; “Final Ruler”) [r. 582-589] Western Liang (vassal...  

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Sep 23, 2015
#74 - S&N 18- The Fall Of Northern Qi
In the Northeast of China, Northern Qi just can’t catch a break. First it was Emperor Wenxuan’s murderous paranoia, and now it will be subjected to Wucheng’s indolent hedonism, “immoral games,” and general excesses… and then the penultimate Qi emperor, Houzhi, will decide that the state treasury is his own personal piggy-bank and startin singing “Hakuna Matata” while the state burns. Meanwhile to the West, Emperor Wu of Northern Zhou will finally break out of his uncle Yuwen Hu’s shadow – by shattering his skull – and then begin eying the swiftly foundering Northern Qi debacle hungrily, eager to reunite the North after almost a half-century of seperation. By episode’s end, it will be a climactic showdown between the two powerful states: one waxing, one waning… which will emerge victorious? Time Period Covered: 561-578 CE Notable Figures: Northern Qi: Emperor/Retired Emperor Wucheng (Gao Dan) [r. 561-565, d. 569] Empress Hu [565-572] Prime Minister He Shikai [524-571] Zu Ting...  

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Sep 15, 2015
#73 - S&N 17: The Only Tear Shed For Wenxuan
Today’s episode takes us through the turmoil within northern China and beyond over the 550s. We begin looking outside of China proper as the rulers of the Rouran Steppe Confederacy are overthrown and replaced by the vassal-turned-enemy the Göktürks, and briefly touch on the Khitan Tribe of Manchuria. We then go through the reign of Emperor Wenxuan of Northern Qi, who will initially lead his newfound dynasty to power and prominence before his mounting madness will plunge it into chaos and terror. Time Period Covered 550-561 CE Notable Figures Ashina Bumin/Tumen (Illig Khagan of Göktürk) [r. 550] Issik Khagan of East Gokturk Istemi Khagan of West Gokturk General Gao Huan (Warlord of Eastern Wei) (d. 550) Gao Yang (Emperor Wenxuan of Northern Qi) [r. 551-560] Crowned Prince Gao Yin (Emperor Fei of Northern Qi) [r. 560] Gao Yan, Prince of Chanshan (Emperor Xiaozhao of Northern Qi) [r. 560-561] Prime Minister Yang Yin [d. 560] Works Cited The History of the Northern Dynasties (Bei Shi) –...  

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Sep 07, 2015
#72 - S&N 16: As The World Burns
In the post-557 world, the three new major powers of China must confront the wide ranges of changes and struggles they must each face now that the political order of the entire empire has been turned on its head. This time, we look at the situation in the south as Northern Zhou and Chen vie for control over the central reaches of the Yangtze River. Dates Covered: 557-568 Important Figures: Northern Qi Warlord Yuwen Tai [d. 556] Yuwen Jue (Emperor/Heavenly Prince Xiaomin) [r. 556-557] Yuwen Yu (Emperor Ming) [r. 557-560] Yuwen Yong (Emperor Wu) [r. 560-578] Duke Yuwen Hu of Jin (Regent of Northern Zhou) [r. 557-572] Chen General Chen Baxian (Emperor Wu) [r. 557-559] Chen Qian (Emperor Wen) [r. 559-566] General Wang Lin (Liang Loyalist Rebel Leader) [555-560] Crowned Prince Chen Chang [d. 559] Prime Minister Hou Andu [d. 563] Warlord Zhou Di (Rebel Leader) [r. 563-565] Chen Bozong (Emperor Fei) [r. 566-568] Chen Xu (Emperor Xuan) [r. 569-582]

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Aug 31, 2015
Supplemental Biopic: The Mathematician Of Heaven
This short episode covers the life of one of the great mathematicians, astronomers, and engineers of ancient China: Zu Chongzhi. In his life from 429-500 CE, he will re-create an ancient precursor to the compass that had been lost for centuries, calculate the motions of the celestial objects with a degree of accuracy in excess of 99.9%, design a comprehensive new calendar system, and derive the value of π to a degree of accuracy that would not be surpassed the world over for another millennium.  

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Aug 11, 2015
#71 - S&N 15: The Crowded Hour
“There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks when decades take place.” It’s an out and out brawl as everything comes to a head at once in the 550s, all across China. In the south, the Liang princes struggle against both the rebel general Hou Jing who holds the capital and the emperor, but also among themselves. In the north, Eastern and Western Wei similarly are undergoing their own internal struggles, which will see the overthrow of all the dynasties we’ve come to know with a whole new batch of contenders. Time Period Covered: 549-557 CE Major Figures: Liang/Han/Chen Warlord/Emperor Hou Jing Emperor Jianwen Prince Xiao Yi of Xiangdong (Emperor Yuan of Liang) Prince Xiao Ji of Wuling (Emperor of Western Liang) [posthumously renamed Taotie] Prince Xiao Huan Prince Xiao Yu Prince Xiao Cha (Emperor Xuan of Western Liang) General Chen Baxian (Emperor Wu of Chen) Western Wei/Northern Zhou Warlord Yuwen Tai Yuwen Jue (Emperor Xiaomin of Zhou) Eastern Wei/Northern...  

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Jul 24, 2015
#70 - S&N 14: The Hou Jing Disturbance
The end of Emperor Wu’s 5-decade-long rule over the Liang Empire is jam-packed with action. Following the split between Eastern and Western Wei in the North, it seems like there’s might be peace and quiet in the South for once. But this will prove short-lived, indeed. First, Vietnam will rise up in it first major rebellion in centuries against Chinese hegemony, and then a general from the far north will go rogue, defect from his warlord, and offer up his territories to Liang. It seems like an offer too good to be true… and as Emperor Wu will learn the hard way, what seems too good, usually is… Time-Frame Covered: 535-557 CE Major Historical Figures: Liang Emperor Wu of Liang (née Xiao Yan) [r. 502-549] Acting Prime Minister Zhu Yi Marquis Xiao Zi, Governor of Jiao Privince Marquis Xiao Yuanming Xiao Yong, Governor of Kuang Province General Chen Baxian Eastern Wei Warlord Gao Huan Prince Gao Cheng Emperor Xiaowen General Murong Shaozong General Hou Jing Western Wei Warlord...  

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Jul 17, 2015
#69 - S&N 13: The Ransom Of The Boddhisatva Emperor
Buddhism has taken Southern China by storm, but few more than its emperor, Wu of Liang. He’ll try to talk a monk out of setting himself on fire, have an awkward chat with the founder of Zen Buddhism, and even enter a monastery and refuse to leave, prompting his whole court to “ransom” him back by bribing the monks to kick him out. All of this while civil war ripples through Northern Wei. Time Period Covered: 517-535 CE Notable Figures: Emperor Wu of Liang (née Xiao Yan) Consort Ding Lingguang Crowned Prince Xiao Tong Crowned Prince Xiao Gang Marquis Xiao Zhengde Monk Daodu Monk Boddhidharma Sources Used: Burning for the Buddha by James A. Benn Zizhi Tongjian by Sima Guang Blue Cliff Record (BiYan Lu) by Yuanwu Keqin Textual History of the Mahāyāna-mahāparinirvāna-sūtra by Stephen Hodge  

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Jul 08, 2015
#68 - S&N 12: Dam It, Wu!
Going back about 50 years to the beginning of the 6th century, we move South once more to visit the new Dynasty that has destroyed the Qi: Liang, and it’s founding Emperor Wu. In this first half of Wu of Liang’s reign, wars will be fought, religions will be adopted, and a massive dam will be constructed as a siege weapon. Time Period Covered: 464-517 Major Figures: Emperor Wu of Liang (née Xiao Yan) [r. 502-549] Prince Xiao Hong Xiao Baojuan, Emperor of Southern Qi [483-501] Xiao Baorong (Emperor He of Southern Qi) [r. 501-502] Chief Engineer Chen Chengbo General Kang Xuan General Zhang Baozhi Empress Dowager Hu of Northern Wei  

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Jun 26, 2015
#67 - S&N 11 All The Wei Down
Though Northern Wei has been a beacon of steadiness amid the ephemeral Southern Dynasties, its time has come to an end. Wracked by ineptitude and betrayal, weighed down by jealous Empress dowagers, ambitious generals, and infant emperors, and with a society split between traditional customs and the new normal, it will devolve into civil war, mass purges, and – ultimately – a permanent split between East and West. Time Period Covered: 515-535 CE Major Characters: Grand/Empress/Dowager Hu (r. 515 - 528) Emperor Xiaoming (510 - 528) Prince Yuan Cha (d. 525) Erzhu Rong (492 - 530) Emperor Xiaowu’s Daughter (528 - ?) Yuan Zhao [Emperor Youzhu] (526 – 528) Emperor Xiaozhuang (r. 528 – 530) Gao Huan (496 - 547) Emperor Xiaowu (510 - 535)  

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Jun 17, 2015
#66 - S&N 10: Cold Case File
Please check out Stephen Guerra's The History of the Papacy Podcast at We continue our look at Northern Wei at the dawn of the 6th century. The imperial bookends will be Xiaowen - the chief proponent of sinicization among the Tuoba Xianbei - and his son Xuanwu, a placeholder in just about every sense of the term. The real drama will unfold around two of Xuanwu's wives... and whether or not one killed the other in a murder mystery 1500 years old. Period Covered: 499-515 CE Major Figures: Yuan Hong [Emperor Xiaowen] (r. 467-499) Yuan Ke [Emperor Xuanwu] (r. 499-515) Empress Yu (~488-507) Prince Yuan Chang (506-506) Consort/Empress Gao (d. 518) Gao Zhong, Prime Minister (d. 515) Empress Dowager Hu (d. 528) Crowned Prince Yuan Xu [Emperor Xiaoming] (r. 515-528)  

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Jun 03, 2015
#65 - S&N 9: What's In A Name?
While the South of China self-destructs time and again, the North is undergoing its own revolutionary shift - not of dynastic head, but something even more fundamental: total social re-organization - from Asian Steppe Society, to one trying to out-play the Chinese at their own game by switching social structure, language, dress, and even taking the ancient Chinese capital as their own in the latter half of the 5th century. Time Period Covered: 465-499 CE Notable figures: Tuoba Hong (Emperor Xianwen) r. 465-471, d. 476 Grand/Empress/Dowager Feng (442-490) Yifu Hun (d. 466) Tuoba Hong (r. 471- 499) Crowned Prince Tuoba/Yuan Xun (483-496) Crowned Prince Tuoba/Yuan Ke (Emperor Xuanwu) r. 499-815 Empress Feng Run (Empress You) d. 499  

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May 25, 2015
#64 - S&N 8: The Rise And Fall Of Southern Qi
The successor state to Liu Song will start off strong, but it will soon hit the rocks of instability, rebellion, and overthrow all in just a little more than 2 decades. At the dawn of the 6th century, its end will largely parallel its beginning. Time Frame: 479-502 CE Major Participants: Xiao Daocheng (Emperor Gao of Southern Qi) r. 479-482 Xiao Ze (Emperor Wu of Southern Qi) r. 482-493 Xiao Zhaoye (Emperor/Marquis of Donghun) r. 493-494 Xiao Luan (Emperor Ming of Southern Qi) r. 494-498 Xiao Baojuan (Emperor of Southern Qi) r. 498-502 Xiao Baorong (Emperor of Southern Qi) r. 501-502 Xiao Yan (Duke/Prince/Emperor Wu of Liang) r. 502-549  

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May 16, 2015
#63 - S&N 7: Going Off The Rails
The fates have not been kind to the Liu Song Dynasty. It keeps rolling the monarchy dice, and they keep coming up crazy-eyes. Emperor Ming will start strong, but descend into cruelty and paranoia. His successor seems to have just been born bad, and the final monarch of the dynasty won’t have enough time fall one direction or the other before a rising star will unseat him, and Liu Song altogether, as the true power of Southern China. Period Covered: 465 – 479 CE Major Figures: Emperor Ming of Liu Song (née Liu Yu, r. 465-472) Emperor Houfei (née Liu Yu, r. 472-477) Emperor Shun (née Liu Zhun, r. 477-479) General Xiao Daocheng General Shen Youzhi Yang Yufu, Imperial Attendant  

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May 07, 2015
#62 - S&N 6: State Of Emergency
In the mid-5th century, Southern China is at a boiling point. Between the decade reign of Emperor Xiaowu, and the 1-year abomination of his son Liu Ziye, there will be rebellion, murder, torture, and incest... so, so much incest. All of leading toward a terminal decline for the Liu Song Dynasty. Period Covered: 453-465 CE Important Figures: Emperor Xiaowu (Liu Jun)r. 453-464 Prince Liu Yigong Prince Liu Yixuan of Nanjiao Prince Liu Dan of Jingling Crowned Prince Liu Ziye (Emperor Qianfei) r. 464-465 Prince Liu Ziluan Dai Faxing He Mai Princess Shanyin (Liu Chuyu) Prince Liu Yu of Xiangdong (Emperor Ming) r. 465-472  

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Apr 28, 2015
#61 - S&N 5: The Forgotten God-King
Emperor Taiwu has been described as "Northern Wei's Teddy Roosevelt", and overshadows many of the Tuoba emperors to follow his reign of conquest and war. But the most forgotten of those successors, his grandson Emperor Wencheng, may have actually been far more responsible for the longterm success and stability of Wei than most realize. Though Taiwu gets all the glory for conquering the North, poor, unsung Wencheng would be the one responsible for keeping and governing it. [Show Notes] Timeframe: 452-465 Major Figures: Emperor Wencheng of Northern Wei (née Tuoba Jun) Empress Dowager Chang Consort Li Consort/Empress Feng Crowned Prince Tuoba Hong Buliugu Li (Li the Bulgar) Yuan He Rouran Khaganate Gaoche Turkic Tribes Major Locations: Pingcheng (N. Wei capital) Yungang Grottoes Hexi Corridor Major sources: Scott Pearce A King’s Two Bodies

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Apr 14, 2015
#60 - S&N 4: The More Things Change...
The decade long détente between the South and North will be shattered in 449 by a series of tit-for-tat campaigns by both sides, resulting in the destruction of much of the lands south of the Yellow River. But it will be assassins, not soldiers, who will most drastically shape the fates of both Northern Wei and Liu Song, one right after the other. [WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE?] Dates: 446-453 Cast - Northern Wei: Emperor Taiwu (Tuoba Tao) Crowned Prince Tuoba Huang Prince Tuoba Han Prince Tuoba Yu (briefly emperor) Tuoba Jun (Emperor Wenzheng) Zang Ai (Eunuch, Duke of Qing) Liu Song: Emperor Wen (Liu Yilong) Crowned Prince Liu Shao (briefly Emperor Yuanxiong) Prince Liu Jun of Shixing Prince Liu Jun of Wuling (Emperor Xiaowu) General Wang Xuanbo General Zang Zhi General Lu Xiu Yan Daoyu (witch) Locations: Shengle, Jiankang (Nanjing), Pengcheng, Xuanhu, Xiancheng, Qian’ao, Liu’an, Huatai, Xunyang,

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Apr 07, 2015
#59 - S&N 3: Buddhist Blades, Daoist Flames
Over the course of the 5th century, Buddhism had become the rising star within China, in spite of its foreign origins. That would run into direct conflict with China's own home-grown religion: Daoism. As the two co-mingled, some would accept both... but others, especially in Northern Wei, would use all the might to eradicate what they deemed to be a heretical foreign influence on their Chinese culture.  

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Mar 30, 2015
#58 - S&N 2: Thirty-Six Stratagems
Northern Wei uses Liu Song's hesitation to move north of the Yellow River as an opportunity to reintegrate the last of the 16 Kingdoms into its hegemony. Koreans, Huns, and Mongols all get caught up in the fray.  

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Mar 23, 2015
#57 - S&N 1: Bipolarity
What had been sixteen kingdoms in the North and an uneasy Dynasty in the South has calcified into a seemingly permanent polar split. After some shenanigans, both halves of China will - surprisingly - find themselves with capable leaders. The coming showdown will be one for the history... um... podcasts...  

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Mar 16, 2015
Update: Episode Name Change
Explanation of THoC's name switcheroo...  

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Mar 12, 2015
#56 - 16K 9: The Two Deaths Of Jin
We track back down south to discover what's been going on with the Jin Dynasty. An imbecile emperor will precipitate multiple governmental crises, ultimately resulting in overthrow, restoration, and then second overthrow the the dynasty.  

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Mar 06, 2015
#55 - 16K 8: No Country For Old Yan
The Xianbei Tuoba Clan from the northwest fills the power-vacuum left by the collapse of Former QIn, and will soon add much of Later Yan to its conquests. But its rulers will be sorely tempted by the trappings of power, and as we all know in this tumultuous period, indulgence is a swift path to downfall.  

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Feb 19, 2015
#54 - 16K 7: Best Laid Plans...
Fratricide, regicide, and genocide are hallmarks of this period in the north. Though the tumult, Former Qin shall emerge triumphant to reunite both the North and Sichuan under its banner... only to watch it all crumble in the span of two years.  

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Feb 06, 2015
#53 - 16K 6: The Year Of Five Emperors
The second half of Shi Hu's reign over Later Zhao, his scheming heirs, and the short, unhappy reigns of his eventual successors... all leading the the once-supreme kingdom being pulled apart like so much carrion by its neighbors.  

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Jan 24, 2015
#52 - 16K 5: The Two Caligulas Of China
Following the death of Emperor Shi Le, Later Zhao will swiftly succumb to the bloody revenge of Shi Hu. But it's his heir, Shi Sui, who is the true terror of this episode...  

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Jan 11, 2015
#51 - 16K 4: Infighting
South of the Huai River, The Eastern Jin discover that a house divided against itself cannot long stand. Meanwhile in the north, the barbarian kings have turned on each other with the Xiongnu emperor of Han Zhao squaring off against the Jie Prince of Later Zhao.  

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Dec 28, 2014
#50 - 16K 3: Splinters
The Jin Dynasty has lost the north, and now hides on the southern banks of the Yangtze River, trying to pull themselves together. Meanwhile the Xiongnu-led tribal coalition calling itself Northern Han will discover that defeating Jin was the easy part, and it's the stresses of governing that will either make or break with tenuous coalition  

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Dec 21, 2014
#49 - 16K 2: Barbarians At The Gates
Following the bloody struggle between the eight princes, the Jin Dynasty lies in tatters. Into the void will step five non-Chinese tribes, initially led by the ancient enemy of China, the Xiongnu.  

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Dec 07, 2014
#48 - 16K 1: The Disorder Of The Eight Princes
Emperor Wu goes on an 8-year, goat-powered orgy through 5000 concubines, leaving the empire in the hands of his mentally disabled son, and the Imperial princes and empress will fight it out over who gets to control him.  

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Nov 29, 2014
#47 - Special: Happy Anniversary!
As promised, here we take a short break before launching into the Jin Dynasty of the late 3rd century to celebrate our first anniversary and of course answer those pressing questions you guy have sent in.  

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Nov 17, 2014
#46 - 3K 5: Long United Must Divide, Long Divided Must Unite
We arrive at the climactic finale of the Three Kingdoms period, as Emperor Wu of Jin orders a massive warfleet constructed to deal the coup de grace to Eastern Wu.  

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Nov 11, 2014
#45 - 3K 4: House Of The Rising Sun
The state of Eastern Wu has been busy, busy, busy, in spite of all the focus given to the rivalry between its Western and Northern neighbors. But when Shu Han crumbles and The Cao Clan is overthrown by the Simas, they'll be in for their greatest test yet.  

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Nov 06, 2014
#44 - 3K 3: The Southern Strategy
Warping back in time half a century, we take a different look at the Three Kingdoms through the eyes of Shu Han of Sichuan, its regent lord Zhuge Liang, and his five campaigns against the northern stare of Cao Wei between 228 and 234.  

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Oct 29, 2014
#43 - 3K 2: Ode Of The Hidden Dragon
The state of Cao Wei comes under the pretty-much-permanent regency of the Sima Family and launches a wildly successful blitzkrieg into Shu Han, meanwhile the teenaged Cao Emperor writes angsty poetry about how lonely he is and no one understands him.  

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Oct 19, 2014
#42 - 3K 1: The King In The North!
The war between the Three Kingdoms has ground to a bloody stalemate. Hoping to seize the initiative,Cao Wei and Sun Wu will turn their attention to Manchuria and Korea in search of allies to exploit and foes to crush.  

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Oct 13, 2014
#41 - E. Han 8: A Farewell To Hans
We reach the end of the road for the Han Dynasty... well, sort of... it's complicated. In any case, there will be two emperors and a king by the time this episode is over. The Three Kingdoms are officially here.  

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Oct 05, 2014
#40 - E. Han 7: The Red Cliffs Of Chibi
The warlord Cao Cao has crushed any rivals to his power in the North, and now turns South to reunify China under his new regime. South of the mighty Yangtze River, the rival lords of Jing Province and Wu Prefecture must put aside their differences and unite if they're to have any hope of stopping the northern invasion at the river's shores  

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Sep 28, 2014
#39 - E. Han 6: Warlords, White Wolf, Winter Winds
In the Southeast, the young but ambitious Sun Ce has splintered off to form his own power bloc, but intrigue will leave his legacy in jeopardy. To the Southwest, the thrice defeated Liu Bei has fled to the refuge of Jing Province under his cousin's protection, to lick his wounds. And to the far North, Cao Cao wages a daring - and dangerous - campaign to stomp out the last vestiges of resistance to his absolute rule.  

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Sep 21, 2014
#38 - E. Han 5: The Battle Of Guandu
In the aftermath of the tyrant Dong Zhou's death, the two commanders of the former anti-Dong coalition vie for power and legitimacy. Cao Cao will take control of Emperor Xian, prompting his one time ally Yuan Shao to launch an all-out invasion of Cao's province. The forces will clash climactically around the fortress at Guandu.  

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Sep 14, 2014
#37 - E. Han 4: Things Fall Apart
Corruption and plutocracy run rampant throughout Han, leading to a religious uprising called the Yellow Turban Rebellion. It's swiftly put down, but the problems are only beginning as we enter the end-phase of the Han and the opening act of the Three Kingdoms Period.  

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Aug 31, 2014
#36 - E. Han 3: Live Fast, Die Young
Coming on the heels of Han's last Golden Age, emperors will begin dropping like flies, opening the Empire up to corruption from its empresses, military commanders, and the newly-empowered eunuch-lords. Also, paper will be invented.  

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Aug 24, 2014
#35 - E. Han 2: Reclamation
It is a Golden Age for the Eastern Han. After decades of tumult, famine, and civil war, the Chinese Empire is poised once again to reclaim its status as preeminent East Asian power. Retaking the abandoned Western Vassal Kingdoms, sending envoys to India and even Rome, and at long last finishing the 200 year old war with the rapidly disintegrating Xiongnu Empire to the north.  

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Aug 17, 2014
#34 - E. Han 1: One Han, Two Han, Red Han, True Han
In the power vacuum left by the defeated Xin Dynasty's collapse, no fewer than six claimants to the long-vacant Throne of Han will vie for power... one backed by the Lülin Rebels, another by the Red Eyebrow Army, another a northern lord with an axe to grind, and a fortune-teller playing the role of a lifetime... who will emerge victorious to reunify the fractious Chinese Empire?  

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Aug 10, 2014
#33 - Xin 2: The Red Eyebrow Rebellion
All hell breaks loose for Wang Mang's Xin Dynasty when the Yellow River flooding its banks in 11 CE combines with the Xin's own incompetent response, leading to famine, rebellion, and a complete breakdown of the social order and the dynasty itself.  

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Aug 05, 2014
#32 - Xin 1: Han, Interrupted
Confucian Wang Mang overthrows Han and sets up his Xin Dynasty to renew the Golden Age of Zhou through land nationalization, wealth redistribution, and currency reform. It seemed like a great idea on paper, but in practice things begin to horribly wrong almost immediately.  

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Jul 27, 2014
#31 - W. Han 9: The Decline Of Han
The Han Dynasty has slipped into a malaise that seems difficult to pull out of. Emperor Yuan is an indecisive Confucianist, his successor Cheng an impotent and free-spending hedonist, and Ai a flamboyant grandma's boy who will try to bequeath the entire Empire to his male lover Dong Xian, with less than successful results. Is this the end for Han?  

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Jul 20, 2014
#30 - W. Han 8: Getting Over Wu
Following the historically long reign of Emperor Wu, the Han Empire struggles to find a replacement, in light of the designated heir being dead. The first choice will die without ever having tasted real power, the second an incompetent buffoon who won't last a month in office, until finally a real alternative can be found from the most unlikely of places: prison.  

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Jul 13, 2014
#29 - W. Han 7: Every Direction But The Sea
In this last of three parts of Wu of Han, with the back of the once-mighty Xiongnu Empire broken, Emperor Wu's Han turns to the South, North, and West to gobble up most of its neighbor states in an orgy of expansion. At home, the aging Wu must contend with peasant uprisings, witchcraft directed against him, and his own building paranoia... any of which could destabilize that which he's spent a lifetime building.  

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Jul 06, 2014
#28 - W. Han 6: The Sino-Xiongnu War
Tensions between the Han and Xiongnu Empires boil over into full-scale war after decades of humiliation at the hands of the northern horse-lords. When the traditional methods of neutralizing Xiongnu power fails, Emperor Wu must turn to a new generation of strategists to turn the Xiongnu's own strength against them: cavalry.  

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Jun 29, 2014
#27 - W. Han 5: Go West, Young Han!
The young Emperor Wu of Han struggles to step out of the shadow of his grandmother and seize power in his own right. Meanwhile, he has sent an emissary behind enemy lines to find what mysterious peoples and empires lie far to the West, but it's uncertain what he'll find... or if he'll live to tell the tale.  

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Jun 22, 2014
#26 - W. Han 4: The Rule Of Wen And Jing
The reigns of Han Emperors Wen and Jing took enormous strides to stabilize the dynasty both within and without. Lowered taxes, more lenient laws, and normalization of international relationships saw life under Wen and Jing greatly improve. But a blunder dealing with the autonomous Imperial Princes threatens to unmake everything...  

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Jun 15, 2014
#25 - W. Han 3: The Bloody Empress
With Han's first Emperor, Gaozu, dead, his wife the first Empress of China Lü Zhi plans on making a few... *alterations* to the goings on of court life. And she doesn't care who she has cut the arms and legs off of to achieve her goals.  

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Jun 08, 2014
#24 - W. Han 2: Xiongnu to the Left of Me, Rebels to the Right...
The Han Dynasty is established by Liu Bang, who crowns himself it's first Emperor Gaozu. But though this is the beginning of a golden age for China, it get's off to a rough start, as to the north the steppe tribes have united into the terrifying Xiongnu Empire under the ancestor of Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan: Batur Chanyu. Within the empire itself, a murder-happy Empress Lü will inadvertently incite rebellions against her husband's rule.  

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Jun 02, 2014
#23 - W. Han 1: The Chu-Han Contention
With the Qin Dynasty dead and buried, the victorious rebels turn on one another to establish who will be the next power in China. The Hegemon-King of Chu, Xiang Yu, squares off against his great rival the King of Han, Liu Bang.  

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May 25, 2014
#22 - Qin 3: Web Of Deception
Following the First Emperor's "Weekend At Bernie's"-esque death, the Qin Dynasty is thrown into turmoil over who will succeed the Emperor who sought to live forever. But at the heart of this web of intrigue sits the eunuch Zhao Gao, pulling the threads of the dynasty itself toward his own mysterious ends.  

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May 18, 2014
#21 - Qin 2: One Nation Under Qin
The victor of the Warring States Period has unified China into its first Empire and taken the name Shi Huang Di. Thereafter, he will expand his borders, unify his nation's language, build a Great Wall to the north, and attempt to stave off death itself.  

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May 08, 2014
#20 - Qin 1: There Can Be Only One
In this final conclusion of the Warring States Period, the King of Qin at last begins his campaign to destroy the other six kingdoms and unify China under a new dynasty. But he'll have to contend with military setbacks, tenacious defenders, and assassins who will do anything to stop him.  

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Apr 28, 2014
#19 - E. Zhou 8: The End Of Zhou
In this first of two part exploring the end of the Warring States Period, Qin continues its campaign again the six other fractious kingdoms, decimating Zhao and Yan before putting the Zhou Dynasty itself to rest forever.  

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Apr 27, 2014
#18 - E. Zhou 7: Shifting Loyalties, Uneasy Alliances
Qin's power continues to grow unabated, as the other states struggle to put aside their own differences long enough to deal with this emergent threat to their balance of power. As hastily put together "Vertical Alliance" might have the capacity to check Qin encroachment, but the King of Qin has dispatched his own agents to foreign courts to lure them away from their allies by promising them the moon and stars...  

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Apr 18, 2014
#17 - E. Zhou 6: Qin's Reformation And Ascension
A brief synopsis of Tomb Sweeping Festival, it's traditions and expectations... then onto the state of Qin's early defeats at the hands of a combined Wei and Han. It's Qin's subsequent reforms at the hand of the Legalist Shang Yang,however, that are the real focus of this episode. Newly centralized and militarized, the now Kingdom of Qin begins it it's expansion, beginning with the independent realms of Sichuan. And for his efforts, Shang Yang will find himself pulled apart by chariots, and his family annihilated. Some thanks, indeed.  

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Apr 09, 2014
#16 - E. Zhou 5: The Partition of Jin
The transition from the Spring and Autumn to the Warring States Period is, all in all, an eight decade process. But the major event that would shape the conflict to come is the civil war that would destroy the pre-eminent power of the 6th century BCE Zhou Empire, and result in the total breakup of the State of Jin into three of the seven soon-to-be warring states: Han, Wei, and Zhao.  

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Mar 26, 2014
#15 - E. Zhou 4: The Art of War
The magnum opus of the legendary general and tactician of the Spring and Autumn Period, Sun Tzu. In this episode, we go over the life of the military genius, as well as an overview of his manual to success on the battlefield, and how it remains relevant and insightful even today.  

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Mar 18, 2014
#14 - E. Zhou 3: Confucius Says...
This episode we chronicle the life of Master Kong A.K.A. Confucius, as well as detail his socio-political philosophies which would shape the future of China, as well as those of much of the rest of East Asia. Less fighting, more thinking, in the first of two interim episodes before plunging headlong into the chaos of the Warring States...  

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Mar 07, 2014
#13 - E. Zhou 2: The Widening Gyre
Spheres of domination, intrafamiliar betrayal, and tangled alliances are the markers of the second portion of the Spring and Autumn period, called the Age of Encroachments. All of this leading to the major powers of the Zhou Empire to engage in decades-long draw out proxy-wars along their borders... all leading toward war outright and the near-destruction of Chu by a new player from the southeast, Wu.  

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Feb 24, 2014
#12 - E. Zhou 1: The Shattered Empire
King You of Zhou lays headless, the capital a smouldering ruin, and royal authority utterly destroyed. Regional lords exploit the chaos at hand to expand their own domains - and at times declare their own kingdoms - while the new, toothless Eastern Zhou kings struggle to stabilize the situation. After a holiday break, we're right back into the action with the beginnings of the Spring and Autumn Period.  

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Feb 15, 2014
#11 - Special: Gong Xi Fa Cai!
This Episode, we take a time-out from the historical flow to take advantage of the upcoming Chinese New Year festivities. We explore the history, legends, customs, and meaning behind this ancient and storied period of celebration. Happy Year of the Yang Wood Horse!  

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Jan 30, 2014
#10 - W. Zhou 2: The King Who Cried "Barbarian!"
This episode, we start at the mid-point of the Western Zhou period, and follow it all the way down to its conclusion with the shattering of Royal authority, the sacking of the capital, and the vengeance of the White Wolf Clans on the Zhou. By the end of the episode, though a Zhou king will remain on the throne, we've seen the end (for now) of a unified state in anything but name...  

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Jan 21, 2014
#9 - W. Zhou 1: Heaven Does Not Make Propositions
The self-proclaimed Kung Wu of Zhou stands triumphant amid the smoking ruins of the Shang Dynasty... but though the war is over, victory is far from assured. With his premature death, his unready heir will prompt rebellion against the fledgling Zhou Dynasty - not only by the Shang remnant, but also his own uncles! To cement their hold on power, the Zhou will be forced to construct a new standard of legitimacy: The Mandate of Heaven.  

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Jan 12, 2014
#8 - Shang 3: The Shang Vanquished

This episode we chronicle the decline and eventual fall of the once-glorious Shang Dynasty to the same vices and evils that spelled doom for the Xia centuries ago. In the West, a powerful new clan calling itself the Zhou has risen to power, eventually with an eye to make right what the final Shang Kings have twisted so horribly wrong. Along the way, we'll colonize the Japanese islands and raise a minor Chinese prince to the King of Korea.


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Dec 29, 2013
#7 - Shang 2: The Shang Triumphant

In this first of two parts, we look at the first half of the Shang Dynasty beginning with the victory and reign of Tang "The Perfect" and leaving off 21 emperors, five capitals, and 400 years later with the amazing reign of Wu Ding and his warrior-priestess wife Lady Fu Hao. Along the way, there are warlike redheaded Xirong, Demonic Mongols, and Blue Barbarians.


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Dec 22, 2013
#6 - Shang 1: Them Bones, Them Bones, Them Oracle Bones

We take a "time out" from our forward-marching chronology to examine the evidence we have of the Shang state, and how we came to know what we know about his period. Mostly, it's about what we can learn from reading divine messages off of dragon bones.


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Dec 13, 2013
#5 - Xia 3: The Fall Of The House Of Xia

This episode we cover our source materials, and then delve into the latter half of the Xia Dynasty post Shao Kang's restoration. It all ends with the corrupt and cruel Emperor Jie coming face to face with the Army of Shang bearing down on him, intent on ending his reign of terror once and for all.


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Dec 06, 2013
#4 - Xia 2: Revenge of the Xia!

This time, we take an in depth look into Shao Kang, the prince born in hiding who would rise from his dynasty's ashes to seek revenge against the Usurper-General Han Zhuo who had ruthlessly pursued him. Through a combination of skill, luck, and patience, Shao Kang will cobble together a force able to meet Han Zhuo's armies in battle.


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Nov 29, 2013
#3 - Xia 1: The Xia, China's First Dynasty

This week we move into the beginnings of China’s dynastic period where rulers began favoring birthright over merit – and the consequences will be almost immediately apparent. Beginning with the triumphant reign of the heroic Yu the Great, the Xia’s semi-accidental trip into dynastic succession will swiftly spiral downward, eventually leaving a usurping general in power, and the House of Xia all but exterminated after decades in exile. Rebooted as of 09/06/2016


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Nov 26, 2013
#2 - Origins 2: Five Emperors, Twelve Islands

This episode, we enter the second half of our gaze into the Chinese origins mythos. Focusing on the Five Emperors descended from the Yellow Emperor, this period marks the beginning of the transformation of the Huaxia People from settled tribe, to dynastic feudal kingdom. There will be betrayal, cataclysmic flooding, bird kingdoms, the Vietnamese, magical earth, and – of course – dragons. UPDATE: as of 08/28/2016, this episode has been fully rebooted from the ground up. Enjoy!


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Nov 26, 2013
#1 - Origins 1: The Mythical Origins Of The Middle Kingdom

In episode 1, we begin with an introduction to this podcast, followed by a brief overview of what we’ve come to know about early human migration and settlement in the region that will eventually become China. Finally, we’ll delve into the mythological origin story that purports to tell of the three divine Sovereigns who would create and then rule over the Han people. I’m very excited to be getting this journey underway! Once again welcome, and thank you for listening. UPDATE: As of 08/28/2016, this episode has been completely rebooted from the ground-up. Enjoy!


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Nov 25, 2013