Episode 85 – Tang 4: The Wild West


Emperor Taizong turns outward seeking to re-conquer the lost territories of the late, great Han at its height. But it’s easier said than done: to the west he’ll find that there’s a whole new cast of regional powers ready to stake their own territorial claims… meanwhile to the northeast, his rising ambitions about taking the Goguryeo Kingdom at any cost may lead him to follow in the ruinous footsteps of the Sui instead.

And since it’s that time of the year, we’ll finish out with a look at China’s very first encounter with a strange monotheistic religion from the Roman Empire, calling itself Nestorian Christianity.

Time Period Covered:
634-649 CE

Major Historical Figures:

Tang China:
Li Shimin (Emperor Taizong of Tang) [r. 626-649]
Retired Emperor Gaozu [d. 635]
Empress Zhangsun [d. 636]

Bod Chen Po (Tibetan Empire):
Songtsen Gampo (King of Tibet)

Tuyuhun Kingdom:
Murong Fuyun Khagan
Murong Shun Khan

Goguryeo Kingdom:
King Yeongyang [d. 618]
King Yeongnyu [r. 618-642]
King Bojang
Dae Mangniji Yeon Gaesomun (Military Dictator)

Yazdegerd III (Shah-an-Shah of Sassanid Persia)
Constans II (Emperor of Eastern Roman Empire)
Monk Aluoban/Alopan/Abraham (Nestorian Christian Evangelist)

Major Works Cited:
East Asian History Sourcebook: Ch’ing-Tsing: Nestorian Tablet: Eulogizing the Propagation of the Illustrious Religion in China, with a Preface, composed by a priest of the Syriac Church, 781 A.D.
Jenkins, Peter. The Lost History of Christianity: the Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia – and How It Died
Sørensen, Per and Harrassowitz Verlog, Otto (trans.). The Mirror Illuminating the Royal Genealogies: Tibetan Buddhist Historiography : an Annotated Translation of the XIVth Century Tibetan Chronicle : RGyal-rabs Gsal- Baʼi Me-long.
Weschler, Howard. The Cambridge History of China. “Taizong: The Consolidator”.
Zhang, Guangda. Collected Drafts on the Historical Geography of the Western Regions.


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