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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.




#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 equals. Time...

Duration: 00:32:40

Preview: American History Tellers

Check out the new podcast American History Tellers!

Duration: 00:07:55

#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...

Duration: 00:38:12

#133 - 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...

Duration: 00:28:58

#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...

Duration: 00:37:37

#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.

Duration: 00:32:26

#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!

Duration: 00:58:05

#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...

Duration: 00:30:16

#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...

Duration: 00:34:16

#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...

Duration: 00:38:08

#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...

Duration: 00:35:04

#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...

Duration: 00:38:00

#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

Duration: 00:33:15

#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

Duration: 00:33:18

#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...

Duration: 00:33:01

#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...

Duration: 00:26:22

#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

Duration: 00:44:55

#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:

Duration: 00:41:56

#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...

Duration: 00:41:24

#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:...

Duration: 00:30:18

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