The History of China

Chris Stewart

Podcast Overview

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

Podcast Episodes

#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

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