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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.




#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...


#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:...


#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...


#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...


#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,...


#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)...


#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...


#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...


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