100 episodes

Mongol Invasions, Napoleonic Wars, Diadochi Wars, Rome and the Cold War. Every part of your life -the words you speak, the ideas you share- can be traced to our history, but how well do you really know the stories? We’ll take you to the events, the times and the people that shaped our world. Hosted by David Schroder for Kings and Generals.

Ages of Conquest: a Kings and Generals Podcast Kings and Generals

    • Education
    • 4.7 • 55 Ratings

Mongol Invasions, Napoleonic Wars, Diadochi Wars, Rome and the Cold War. Every part of your life -the words you speak, the ideas you share- can be traced to our history, but how well do you really know the stories? We’ll take you to the events, the times and the people that shaped our world. Hosted by David Schroder for Kings and Generals.

    Fall and Rise of China: Rise of Nurhaci

    Fall and Rise of China: Rise of Nurhaci

    Long Intro
     
    China is one of the world’s four ancient civilizations, alongside Mesopotamia, the Indus valley and Egypt. It has a written history dating as far back as the Shang Dynasty, that's around 1600 BC, over 3000 years ago! Now as you can also imagine  you are not getting the full rundown of the entire history of China, it’s simply too immense for the overall story we are getting into. The story I want to tell has been termed by scholars, “the century of humiliation” dating 1839 until 1949. During this period China or better called the Qing Dynasty and later Republic of China faced terrible and humiliating subjugation by Western powers and the Empire of Japan.The story we are going to begin today is one of pain and hardship, but it is also a tale of endurance and resilience that created the China we see today. 
     
    This is the Fall and Rise of China Podcast



    I am going to let you in on a little secret, I myself am quite new to the vast history of China. As some of you listeners might already know, I am the writer and narrator of the Pacific War Podcast week by week. I specialize in the Pacific War and Japanese history and I ventured into a journey to explain everything that is the Pacific War of 1937-1945 when I began my personal Channel called the Pacific War Channel on Youtube. Yet when I sat down to begin writing about the history of Tokugawa Japan and how Japan would find itself on a path towards virtual oblivion, I thought to myself, well what about China? This is when I fell down a rabbit hole that is 19th century China. I immediately fell in love with it. I am a westerner, a Canadian, this was knowledge not usually told on my side of the world. So I thought, what are the most important events that made the China we see emerging during the Pacific War, or to be more accurate the Second Sino-Japanese War? I fell upon the first opium war, by the time I read a few books on that, it was the second opium war, then the Taiping Rebellion, the Nian Rebellion, the Boxer rebellion, the list goes on and on. 19th Century China is one of the most fascinating albeit traumatic episodes of human history and has everything to do with the formation of the China we see today. The term a century of humiliation or 100 years of humiliation is how many Chinese historians describe the time period between the First Opium War and the end of the Chinese Civil War. I do not speak the language nor have a full understanding of the culture, I am a lifelong learner and continue to educate myself on the history of one of the most ancient peoples of our world. This will be a long and honestly difficult story to tell, but I welcome you to join me on this journey.
     
    Stating all that I want to begin our journey explaining how the Ming Dynasty fell and the Qing Dynasty rose up. 
    This episode is the rise of Nurhaci
    Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on world war two and much more  so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War.
     
    The Ming-Qing transition is a story filled with drama and corruption, heroes and villains, traitors and martyrs. Peasant rebellions, corrupt politicians and terrifying invaders would eventually collapse what was the Ming dynasty.
     
    The Ming Dynasty was the ruling dynasty of China between 1368 and 1644. It would be the last dynasty to be ruled by Han C

    • 1 hr
    Fall and Rise of China: Ming Strike Back

    Fall and Rise of China: Ming Strike Back

    Last time we spoke, the Yuan Dynasty lost their hold over China as a result of famines and a rebellion led by Zhu Yuanzhang that eventually toppled them. Now the Ming Dynasty stood as a marvel to the world achieving great wonders, but how long would it prosper? The Ming Dynasty’s first Emperors began their reign hampered by paranoia, leading to bloodshed. Eventually it seemed all was going well for the new Dynasty, but then an external threat came to the door in the form of Japan. The Imjin War of 1592-1598 saw the Ming Dynasty quelling the Japanese challenge at their status as the supreme military power in East Asia, but it also weakened them, opened the door for the Jurchen Chieftain Nurhaci to establish a new state and wage war upon them. Now Nurhaci had won a great victory over 4 Ming armies, what would he do next and how would the Ming stop him?
    Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on world war two and much more  so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War.
     
    This episode is the Ming strike back 
    After Nurhaci had shocked the Ming Court by defeating the 4 armies they sent to destroy him, they now realized they required bigger actions. The Ming Court appointed Xiong Tingbi as “Jinglue” the Military Affairs Commissioner of Liaodong. Xiong was a veteran, a very skilled commander, an intelligent negotiator and interestingly an ambidextrous archer. He was one of the very few Ming officials who had both civil and military skills. Xiong began his work by taking an account of his forces and the enemy. There was supposed to be roughly 180,000 Ming soldiers in the region, but Xiong’s personal inspectors found only 90,000 and of which many were unfit for war. Xiong estimated Nurhaci to have around 100,000 men, so this prompted him to request 1.2 million taels of silver from the Ministry Revenue to pump up the Liaodong defense. This soon escalated into a back and forth situation, prompting Xiong to argue that the bureaucrats were not investing enough funds to actually put up a real defense of Liaodong. In the end the Ministers of War and Revenue coughed up around half what he asked for. This would be a recurring theme until the end of the Ming dynasty. 
     
    Xiong’s strategy was to establish extremely stout defenses instead of sending large forces out in the field to face the Jin. He also sought to “sooth the hearts and minds of the people”, emphasizing a psychological aspect of the war. What was meant by this was that Xiong was displaying to the Emperor that they needed the people of Liao to know they were valued subjects, because too many were becoming unhappy and as a result defected to the Jin. Xiong also realized having failed to secure enough funds he needed to find his own and thus they would “use the people of Liao to defend Liao and by using the resources of Liao to support Liao”.
     
    Xiong realized the only real avantage the Ming held over the Jin, was that of firepower.
    Thus Xiong wanted to formulate his defensive plans based around taking advantage of that. He quickly began using the funds to build up the moats and walls for the fortresses, build cannons and firearms and paid for the relocation of over 180,000 additional troops from other regions to defend a southern line between Fushun and Fort Zhenjiang. He also built up a system of beacons and w

    • 58 min
    Fall and Rise of China: The Wrath of Hung

    Fall and Rise of China: The Wrath of Hung

    Last time we spoke, Xiong Tingbi had created a grand defensive strategy that paved the way for the defeat of the Jin invaders. However he was soon impeached and executed, a victim to his rivals in the Ming Court. Despite this his defensive strategy would live on with the appointment of Sun Chengzong. We also talked about the rise of the Sea King Mao Wenlong and how his crazy antics impressed the Ming Court. Yet something was not right about Mao Wenlong’s victories, they simply did not add up. Then at the last hour when all hope seemed to be lost for the lonesome commander, Yuan Chonghuan at the fortress of Ningyuan a miracle happened. The cannon expert managed to not only defeat the Jin invaders at Ningyuan, he also managed to kill the great Khan Nurhaci. With the death of Nurhaci, what will the Jin empire do next?
    Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on world war two and much more  so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War.
    This episode is Wrath of Hung 
     
    In the wake of Nurhaci’s death, his son Hung Taiji became the new Khan of the Jin Empire. Hung faced many rivals amongst his own relatives when he took power. Interestingly enough Hung began his Khanhood by flirting with some peace talks with the Ming. Hung laid out 2 conditions for peace, the first that the Ming should send tribute to the Jin, the second that a border be fixed at Shanhaiguan. In return the Jin would also send the Ming tributary gifts, thus the Jin would be below the Ming Emperor, but above the Ming officials, honestly a fair arrangement. Emperor Tianqi warned his officials not to enter peace talks lightly, but did seem to heed to offers. Now historians think Hung was perhaps doing all of this merely to raise his own authority in the grander scheme of things. To talk the way he was to the Ming Dynasty really elevated the status of the Jin. Another major reason historians argue as to why Hung began these peace talks was to buy time for a new operation. Somewhat as a result of the Sea King Mao’s ventures, raiding on the Bohai coast drew attention to the unfortunate land due south east of it, Korea. Hung chose to invade Korea to secure his flank for anticipated attacks on the western Ming front. The Ming held an overwhelming advantage in resources and some of those resources such as food came from Korea. By defeating Korea, Hung could extract tribute, such as much needed food supplies from the koreas and stop it from getting into the Ming’s hands. The Korean’s for their part were aiding and abetting the sea king Mao by shielding many of his raiders within Korea. Though they did this begrudgingly might I add as they did not trust Mao.
     
    The Jin sent 30,000 troops over the Korean border in 1627 easily overrunning the border towns. When they advanced on Uiji, Mao fled into the Bohai gulf with some of his forces. Soon the Jin captured Anju, Pyongyang and were quickly crossing the Taedong River. The battle for Anju was very intense and when the defenders knew they were going to be beaten they allegedly blew themselves up with gunpowder. As soon as the word got out of the invasion, the Ming dispatched a relief force to help the Koreans. Meanwhile the royal family of Korea fled to Kanghwa island and tried desperately to bribe the Jin to stop. Hung was amenable to this and left only 1000 Jurchen and

    • 52 min
    History of the Mongols: Intro

    History of the Mongols: Intro

    In the smoke filled air, the cries of men and women reach towards Eternal Blue Heaven as horsemen ride over ruined city walls. The men of fighting age are forced together, their weapons and armour abandoned or taken, to be shortly executed en masse. A tower of their skulls be all that remains of their resistance The women, holding close crying children and infants, are led away, chattel for their new masters. Those craftsmen and artisans of skills -engineers, masons, woodworkers, and smiths of metal- are deemed to be useful to their new master in the east, and will be carried off for his service. Over the 13th century, from the islands off Korea to the plains of Hungary, from the forests of Siberia to the rugged borderlands of India, variations of this scene are enacted again and again, in the pursuit of nothing less than the domination of everything under Heaven by one family. I’m your host David and welcome to Ages of Conquest: a Kings and Generals Podcast.  This is the Mongol conquests.
     
        In Bukhara, in early 1220, as the formidable Khwarezmian (Khwa-rez-mian)  Empire buckles under their onslaught, the man who has caused this horrific explosion of violence stands before a crowd of the city’s notables and wealthy. Once proud and haughty, now they are held humble before this horseman from the steppe. “O peoples,” he tells them through his translator, “know that you have committed great sins and that the great ones among you have committed these sins. If you ask me what proof I have of these words, I say it is because I am the punishment of God. Had you not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.” As the translator finished the statement, the shocked murmurs and hurried glances of the crowd would surely have pleased him - Genghis Khan, the World Conqueror, who had driven this proud people before him like  hunters do their prey. 
     
        The 13th century Mongol Conquests today are often presented in apocalyptic imagery, a carry over from many of the medieval sources, for whom the only explanation for the speed and thoroughness of these conquests could only be that they were a punishment sent by God, surely heralding the end of times. These connotations are difficult to dissociate, and indeed, one might ask why we should look deeper, when these conquests resulted in an estimated 30-40 million deaths, unimaginable suffering, rape and cruelty. Genghis Khan’s name, to many in the west, Iran and China, brings to mind the stock image of the blood thirsty barbarian, who raped his way to over 200 million modern descendants! 
     
    Yet, in Mongolia today, he is not a national shame, but rather considered the heroic, legendary founder of their country, the unifier of the Mongols who led them to an unprecedented age of greatness. He is a lawgiver, the ideal steppe chieftain. Stern and vengeful to his enemies, but generous to his followers, a protector bringing peace and ending the age of intercine steppe warfare. For centuries, descent from Genghis Khan was perhaps the single most important source of legitimacy for dynasties and states across Asia. Even those monarchs not of the altan urugh - the Golden Lineage- often maintained a puppet Khan descended from him, or married a daughter of distant descent. For many of the Turkic peoples across the steppe today, Genghis takes  the form of a great folk hero, and individual clans, tribes and peoples will feature some legend wherein a famous ancestor of theirs was granted their rights to that territory by Genghis himself, or was held as a loyal general by him. 
     
        How do we reconcile these differing interpretations? As with so much of history, the truth lies in the middle. That is what we will discuss over the course of this podcast series. Not a dramatized, apocalyptic presentation, but neither a glowing heroic description, we will instead in detail go through the Mongol conquests, beginning with the origins of t

    • 22 min
    History of the Mongols: Nomadism

    History of the Mongols: Nomadism

    Nomadism! It is a term closely  associated with the Mongols and other inner Asian peoples of the vast Eurasian steppe-lands.  Yet what does it entail, specifically? How did it influence Mongolian culture, religion and warfare? We are going to explain this all in detail, hopefully providing you a solid foundation for our forthcoming discussions on the Mongol Empire. I’m your host David and welcome to Ages of Conquest: a Kings and Generals Podcast.  This is the Mongol conquests.
     
    Let us begin with a description from a Chinese writer on peoples from Mongolia, which provides an apt generalization: “The animals they raise consist mainly of horses, cows, and sheep, but include such rare beasts as camels, asses, mules, and the wild horses known as taotu and tuoji. They move about in search of water and pasture and have no walled cities or fixed dwellings, nor do they engage in any kind of agriculture. Their lands, however, are divided into regions under the control of various leaders. They have no writing, and even promises and agreements are only verbal. The little boys start out by learning to ride sheep and shoot birds and rats with a bow and arrow, and when they get a little older they shoot foxes and hares, which are used for food. Thus all the young men are able to use a bow and act as armed cavalry in time of war. It is their custom to herd their flocks in times of peace and make their living by hunting, but in periods of crisis they take up arms and go off on plundering and marauding expeditions. This seems to be their inborn nature. For long-range weapons they use bows and arrows, and swords and spears at close range. If the battle is going well for them they will advance, but if not, they will retreat, for they do not consider it a disgrace to run away. Their only concern is self-advantage, and they know nothing of propriety or righteousness.
        From the chiefs of the tribe on down, everyone eats the meat of the domestic animals and wears clothes of hide or wraps made of felt or fur. The young men eat the richest and best food, while the old get what is left over, since the tribe honours those who are young and strong and despises the weak and aged. On the death of his father, a son will marry his stepmother, and when brothers die, the remaining brothers will take the widows for their own wives. They have no polite  names but only personal names, and they observe no taboos in the use of personal names.”
        Now here’s the thing: that is not a description from the 13th century, but rather, the second century BCE! This is a very famous passage from the Chinese ‘grand historian,’ Sima Qian, a writer from the early Han Dynasty, describing not the Mongols, but the Xiongnu. And everything he says in this excerpt is just as applicable to the Mongols of the 13th century CE as it is to the Xiongnu a thousand years before them, from the animal lists, little boys learning to shoot, everyone acting as armed cavalry to the sons marrying their widowed stepmothers. Pastoral nomadism, which is where people with no fixed abode undergo seasonal or regular migrations with their various herds for fresh pasture, has long been the staple form of subsistence in Mongolia. Even today, about 40% of modern Mongolians still live in this fashion. 
     
    With irregular rainfall in arid summers and long, harsh winters, agriculture has never been extensively practiced in the country, though never totally unknown. Mongolia today is about the size of western Europe: the south of the country towards the low mountain range which divides China proper from the steppe is more arid, made up mostly of the Gobi desert, a mix of sand, scrub brush and gravel. To the east, the Greater Khingan Range separates the Mongol inhabited steppe from Manchuria, and in the west the Altai range serves as the natural barrier splitting the Mongol steppe from the western Eurasian steppe. The north of Mongolia edges onto the forests of eastern Siberia,

    • 28 min
    History of the Mongols: Introduction To 13th Century China

    History of the Mongols: Introduction To 13th Century China

    Contrary to some popular internet opinions, the Mongol Empire was not an unprecedented, utterly unique presence on the stage of world history. It was neither the first or the last nomadic empire, though it was certainly the greatest. This depiction of the Mongol Empire as a total historical aberration is due, perhaps, to a lack of context. When one learns of the Mongols through hyperbole and dramatized retellings of the rise of Chinggis Khan, it neighbours portrayed only long enough to explain their destruction, it is easy to feel you’re learning about perhaps the only nomadic empire to really conquer anything, instead of just raiding. In this episode, we will provide first a very brief history of Mongolia based nomadic empires- not encyclopedic, but enough to give you an idea of what the precedent here was. Then, we will explain the first of what is known in Chinese history as the ‘conquest dynasties,’ the Khitan Liao Dynasty, the Tangut Xi Xia Dynasty, and the Jurchen Jin Dynasty, who laid the groundwork for the Asia Chinggis Khan would emerge into. With that background, it will make puts the events of the conquest of China into greater context for you, our dear listener, so that the significance of particular events should perhaps take greater event. Now, prepare yourself as we take a speedy 1,000 year journey through Mongolian and northern Chinese history. 



    In broad strokes, we must first note that the Empire founded by Chinggis Khan in 1206 was not the first empire ever based in Mongolia. For that honour we must go back over 1400 years to the Xiongnu Empire, a tribal confederation founded around 209 BCE, perhaps a reaction to the unification of China under their first imperial dynasty, the Qin Dynasty. The well known Terracotta warriors come from the magnificent tomb of the first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi, to place this into a well known context. The Xiongnu’s military might put the Qin’s successors, the famed Han Dynasty into what was essentially a vassal relationship, forcing them to send tribute for decades. Before the rise of the Mongols, the Xiongnu were the archetypal nomadic threat to the Chinese, who struggled to find ways to successfully resist their pressure. One effort was to ‘civilize’ the Xiongnu by sending them Chinese brides and goods, to force the Xiongnu to become dependent on them. It proved expensive and unsuccessful, and with the Xiongnu based still in Mongolia, they could maintain the divide between their society and the Chinese. The Han saw more success militarily, building border walls, expanding towards Central Asia to cut off the Xiongnu from their client kingdoms on whom they depended for revenues and forming alliances with various tribes along the Xiongnu’s border- although military operations into Mongolia proper were difficult and costly for the Chinese. What finally allowed the Han to overcome the Xiongnu was the end of their long unity. Unlike effectively every other nomadic confederation to follow them, the Xiongnu maintained a remarkable degree of unity from 209 until 60 BCE. The civil war which broke out over the Xiongnu ruler’s succession was the true end of their confederation. Various claimants sought support from the Chinese, increasing Chinese influence, weakening the central authority of the Xiongnu ruler, encouraging their enemies and ultimately, resulting in the fragmentation of the confederation and rise of other powers in Mongolia.
     
    Now, you may ask, why did we have all that preamble for events literally over a millennium before Chinggis Khan? The reason is because of trends which will be apparent in this, and future episodes:
    The significance of Chinese goods and tribute, as something desired by the nomads, and a tool to be used by Chinese with the intention of ‘corrupting,’ or from the Chinese point of view, ‘civilizing’ the nomads, forcing them to lose their military edge in favour of the finer things. The great military potential of t

    • 27 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
55 Ratings

55 Ratings

HistoricalWarfare11 ,

Great

Where is the 3rd season?

BerkeKhan ,

Amazing Mongol series with a medieval Europeans/Christian bias against Middle East/Muslims..

Excellent work, trying to bring an balanced view on the Mongolian conquest. Initially it start’s off good, but when it comes to the mongol conquest of Baghdad or the talk about Berke Khan- the personal bias is oozing out (overflowing). It’s very evident the discussion with one of the experts of Mongol history (I think Dr.Hope). Initially when I came across it, I missed it. But when you repeat the biased deduction and versions multiple times, it’s hard not to notice.
But real good work. Apart from that as far as I can notice.
I would like to give a 3 star but then people would miss the warning sings provided by the reviews.

MagicDuckCommander ,

Didn't know I'd enjoy the history of the mongols so much

I especially love the jackmeister special episodes where he talks to history profs and goes in depth + discusses newer research (Sometimes it gets a bit too drawn out, but still love it overall). For example we learn why the mongols might actually have called themselves "tatars" and why they really retreated out of Hungary.

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