The History of China

The History of China

United Kingdom

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


#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.

Patrick Wyman's Tides of History  

A promo episode of the brand new Tides of History Podcast by Patrick Wyman!

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#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]


#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...

#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.

#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!


#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)

#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...

#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...

#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....

#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]

#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

#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

#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

#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...

#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

#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:

#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"...

#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

#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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