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A journey through the 5000 years of history documented by one of the world's oldest continuous civilizations.

A journey through the 5000 years of history documented by one of the world's oldest continuous civilizations.
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Shanghai, China


A journey through the 5000 years of history documented by one of the world's oldest continuous civilizations.




#147 -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.


#146 - 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


#145 - 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...


#144 - 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: Song: 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....


#143 - 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


# - 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: Song: Emperor Renzong Chancellor Li Yijian Fan...


#140: Turn Of The Millennium Q&A

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


#139- 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...


#138 - 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


#137 - 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


Untitled Episode

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...


#135 - 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...


#134 - 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...


#3 - Tang 33: 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! Cheers!


#121 - Tang 32: 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...


#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...


#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...