#114 – Tang 26: The Sweet Dew Plot

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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 Xianzong of Tang (Li Chun) [r. 805-820]
Emperor Muzong of Tang (Li Heng/You) [r. 820-824]
Emperor Jingzong of Tang (Li Zhan) [r. 824-827]
Emperor Wenzong of Tang (Li Han/Ang) [r. 827-840]
Crowned Prince Li Yong [d. 838]
Emperor Wuzong (Li Chan) [r. 840-846]

Niu Faction Officials:
Niu Sengru, Duke of Qizhang
Li Zhongmin
Li Xun [d. 835]

Li Faction Officials:
Li Jifu, Duke of Wei [d. 814]
Li Deyu, Duke of Wei

Nonaligned Officials:
Zheng Zhu [d. 835]

Eunuch Officials:
Wang Shucheng [d. 835]
Qiu Shiliang, Duke of Chu

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3 thoughts on “#114 – Tang 26: The Sweet Dew Plot

  1. Two questions unrelated to this episode. (BTW, later episodes are not on this site.)

    First goes back to the First Emperor. One day I heard on Chinese radio a self-made history drama writer-producer speaking about the Qin Dynasty. One of his comments was that the harsh legalist disciplines of Qin’s reign was the result of Yin Zheng’s deep personal belief in the theory of Yin and Yang; because the root of the Qin territory belonged to Yin, his advisors convinced him that his national policy needed to be Yin.

    I know that there are plenty of amateur commentators using this or that “traditional” school to explain history, and this doctor is an amateur. (He has a Ph.D. in EE from the U.S. despite some TV fame in the mainland.) But I have never heard of such theories from modern scholars from either the mainland or Taiwan. Still, is there documented evidence that showed that Fengshui had significant influence on Yin Zheng, the way that this or that religion had on some later emperors?

    Second, I heard from another podcast that Indians (of all people) did not consume tea as a nation until the English brewed their brew for which they adopted a Chinese name and exported to the colony. This, of course is like someone telling me that the Soviet Union did not shoot up Sputnik until China built the rockets for them. For what I know, the Chinese word for the worldly drink, “cha”, was phonetically adopted from “chai”. And the recorded history of Chinese drinking “cha” must be a millennia earlier than the British heard of “tea”. But the person on the podcast was a learned economist, so there must be some truth to this. What is the story here?

    1. Hi there! Long time no see!

      Thanks very much for the questions – into the list they go!

      (And yes, I know about the website… it’s purely a product of my own laziness… must… update soon… as soon as I get the latest maps colorized…)

      1. It had been long. I had wanted to write but like you, had work-related disruptions. I really appreciate the play-by-play about An Lu-shan rebellion, and about its reverberation after Xuan Zong. In China, you have to be be a peasant to not have heard about An Lu-shan rebellion. In fact, most peasants must have heard of it because 贵妃醉酒 (The Drunken Concubine) is among the best known Peking Operas and other regional plays. But I, like most science students of the time, stopped at Li Bai and Du Fu’s poems, commentaries about poems and miscellaneous historic commentaries. In other words, no details and ever linked to the Concubine and her powerful brother. (Not really more knowledgeable than peasants.) It is quite refreshing to hear a narrative in near absence of this connection.

        One thing from those episodes remains unclear: Whether An Lu-shan was a brilliant military commander or not, in part because the narrative started with Lushan being badly defeated yet got promoted. I had always had this impression that he must be very powerful, otherwise how could he crush the imperial army so quickly. But your narrative depicted blunder after blunder on the part of the empire, while Lushan hadn’t been in very good health since the rebellion began. This makes me wonder: Maybe he was not the Zhang Liang, Han Xin of the Han era that I thought he was.

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