#107 – Tang 20: This Is Only A Test

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Today we explore the insanely difficult, stressful, byzantine… and sometimes fatal… world of the would-be imperial official as they attempt to climb their way through the labyrinth of tests explicitly designed to fail them out. One unlikely success of this system is Yuan Zai, who will going from impoverished nobody to Chancellor of the Empire… all before getting his head lopped off. We then finish out Emperor Daizong’s time on the throne before the reign of his son Emperor Dezong.

Time Period Covered:
762-781 CE

Major Historical Figures:
Emperor Daizong of Tang (Li Yu) [r. 762-779]
Emperor Dezong of Tang (Li Kuo) [r. 779- 805]
Chancellor Yuan Zai [d. 777]
General Guo Ziyi [d. 781]

Major Works Cited:
Dalby, Michael T. “Court Politics in Late Tang Times” in The Cambridge history of China, vol. 3.
Miyazaki, Ichisada. China’s Examination Hell.
Sima, Guang. Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 225.

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2 thoughts on “#107 – Tang 20: This Is Only A Test

  1. I took the bar exam about a month ago. I don’t think anyboy died during the exam and there wasn’t a poetry section, but otherwise, the procedure sounds very similar. So this episode brought back bad memories.

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