Slade's History Lessons!

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Slade, Jan 21, 2016.

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  1. Hello all you wonderful little people, While I am known around these posts as an Eldritch abomination sell out shitposter fuck. I do have some other interests: I'm currently majoring in Theater which means that the only available job for me is being a working actor or working the street corner. But I also have a minor in history. Mainly because I am a sperglord and can go on rants about pretty much anything history related during any time period in any part of the world, with the exception of central Asia because fuck you.

    So I decided that maybe it would be cool to write up a little history lesson for random, obscure pieces of history, whether it be people, events, countries, etc in my own shit funny way. If you all like it this could be a reoccurring thing and I can keep writing up more stuff. If you think I suck, just bully me and say so. I'm not gonna cry about it and call everybody meany poopy face hypocrites.

    Also, I'm not likely to do more modern topics because they are often A.) Boring and B.) Controversial and could lead to this thread getting locked. Like can you imagine what would happen if I talked about the founding of modern Israel? My two options are that Jews are evuls and built Israel on a pile of Palestinian dicks or that Israel is GREATEST ALLY so shut up and be a good goy.

    Yeah I'm sure Diana would love that.

    Keep in mind that these are probably going to be long. Like, kind really fucking long. I'll have spoilers and shit so you don't have a stroke, but I wouldn't be surprised if you need a lunch break or two. Keep in mind that this is often just a summary of events. If you want more detail, just take a look at the wiki articles and then read some books on the subject. I guarantee you that some fucking history geek has written a book on anything I want to talk about.

    Also, if you're stupid and can't tell. These little readings are all in good fun and come with a certain bias to keep things a little more interesting (also I'm a bias person). It's meant to educate you, but also tongue in cheek and you shouldn't take it that seriously.


    A Tale of Wang Mang: Chuckles Ensue (open)

    Part 1 (open)

    Let me take you to the magical land of China, where they'll make a man out of you because you'll have to go into the woods to forage for food because their economy is crumbling like a set of identical towers. But enough about modern day incompetence, lets talk about classical incompetence the likes of which has not been seen since. A case of a very smart, idealistic and politically ruthless man running a rich, thriving country into the ground. A man whose poor leadership is the stuff of legends who fucked up so badly that I don't think any of you could do half as bad of a job if you were actually trying to destroy a country.

    That man's name is Wang Mang, a official of the Han Dynasty who rose through the ranks by cunning and brilliant political maneuvers to dismantle the Han and declare himself emperor only for the the Han to be reinstated 20 years later and thrive for another 200 years. We're gonna be looking at his life, some aspects of his personality that can be found, talk about his reign, his failures and maybe learn a lesson about friendship in the end. So order up some Americanized Chinese food and put away your anime because the Chinese fucking hate the Imperial Japanese scum and lets go on a journey... to the the East.

    Wang Mang was born into a rather influential family, the Wangs. His aunt was an Empress and later Empress Dowager (basically supreme Empress) and his family name was a big deal at the imperial court. Wang Mang's father died when he was still quite young and was transferred directly into the care of the Empress, where he probably picked up on how to maneuver around court from his experienced Aunt. It wasn't all fun and Wang Mang had a rather humble upbringing in comparison to his Brothers, who were all given titles of Nobility while Wang Mang was stuck as a commoner. In a world where Titles are literally the most important thing this would be considered a deep humiliation.

    The Wang family was actually quite notorious for their frivolity and expensive spending habits and many family members would compete with each other to see who could spend more money. Wang Mang however, as he grew up was praised as a humble Confucian scholar who wore plain clothes, lived simply and took care of not only his mother but his deceased Brother's wife as well. With this filial and humble reputation he developed many close friends in court and carefully courted his uncles favors (all of which were in high positions of power)

    After caring for a sick, but influential uncle, he was promoted to being the Imperial attendant as well as one of the sub commanders to the Imperial guard which finally granted Wang Mang some direct power and influence over the court. So much so was he loved that another Uncle offered to split up his own land and give it to Wang Mang so that he could be given a noble title. The Emperor agreed and granted Wang Mang the title of Marquess at the age of 29. I believe it is here that one can see certain characteristics of Wang Mang sprout up that would come to dominate the rest of his life. Unlike his brothers who spent money on luxuries, Wang Mang continued to live a humble lifestyle despite his newly acclaimed wealth and gave most of it away to either support up and coming scholars or as gifts to friends. With this, Wang Mang managed to strengthen his position in two ways: those scholars and friends would later on serve as important officials for the empire who would be the backbone of Wang Mang's support and Wang Mang would be praised for living a simple life with a generous reputation. It was said the the greater the rank he was given, the more frugal he lived. Wang Mang was above anything else an idealized traditionalist though the effects of such thinking would not be apparent until he usurped the throne.

    Eventually, after scooping up evidence against his one possible rival for corruption (who, in all fairness did engage in illegal activities), Wang Mang was promoted as Commander of the Armed forces, the highest in the Imperial Government. He was noted for his almost perfect work ethic; he was praised for his self discipline and promotion of capable individuals to high ranks. Soon the Wang family reputation for excess and being filthy stinking rich was replaced by being the family that could solve the empire's problems (mainly corruption of officials that was becoming more and more prevalent under incompetent emperors)

    Things seemed peachy for a good long while. And then everything went to shit, for the dumbest of reasons. Literally the dumbest of reasons.


    Part 2 (open)

    In 7 BC, the current Emperor, Emperor Cheng died and lacked an heir (which was ironic since he was a infamous womanizer) which resulted in his nephew being named Emperor Ai. The problem with replacing an Emperor with one who isn't a direct relative is that the new family comes to move in and they often want a piece of the action. Emperor Ai was your typical shitty ruler with a homosexual twist thrown in. He cared more about pleasures than governing and was dominated by his grandmother, Dowager Fu, who is pretty much the stereotype of “Dumb woman who fucks everything up”.

    You all know that type of girl. Maybe she's a sister of one of your friends or a girlfriend or whatever and she does nothing but cause drama over stupid shit. Does the guilt tripping thing where she doesn't feel “appreciated” or “not part of the gang” or whatever and during parties goes off and calls one of your female friends “Whores” and tries to start a cat fight. Now all the women in your friends group are crying and half the men are awkward as fuck and don't know what to do about it and the other half don't care and just drink beer.

    Yeah, now imagine that woman has political power. Amazing things are going to happen.

    During all this time of Wang Mang accumulating power, his now elderly aunt, Empress Dowager Wang, was sitting behind the curtain and supporting her nephew and strengthening her clan. With the ascension of Emperor Ai, his Grandmother now wanted the title of Empress Dowager too as she was only “Princess Dowager”. She also demanded that all members of her clan be granted titles so that they could equal the Wangs in prestige. Empress Dowager Wang felt that Emperor Ai would be put in a awkward situation if the demands were refused, and so in a unfortunate act of stupidity gave in to Dowager Fu's every desire including making her an Empress Dowager (despite the fact that it was illegal since Fu had never been an empress).

    Wang Mang, revering tradition to the point of zealotry was not pleased at the situation and aimed at reminding Dowager Fu where her place was. At a banquet, the tables were set up so that Dowager Fu would be seated next to Dowager Wang, implying the two were equals. Wang Mang ordered that Dowager Fu be seated to the side to remind her of her lower status. This proved to be a mistake as Dowager Fu left the banquet in a rage. It seemed Wang Mang had underestimated her influence as he resigned shortly afterwards to soothe her anger with the Emperor quickly accepting the resignation.

    For a few years, Wang Mang lived a quiet retirement, keeping a low profile and careful not to associate with too many people so that he would not be falsely accused of starting a rebellion. While he was gone, Dowager Fu kept being a cunt and fucking everything up; giving more titles to her clan and controlling the weak willed Emperor Ai, who frankly was more interested in his Gay lover than running an empire. It was said that his lover, Dong Xian had just as much, if not more power than the Emperor and was given the title of Commander of the Armed forces (the same title that Wang Mang had lost) and was-unsurprisingly-horrible at his job. Corruption was at an all time high and the court was where people went to gain titles, instead of running a bureaucratic empire.

    Wang Mang's retirement is also where we start to see the darker aspects of his personality become apparent. In a rage, his second oldest son killed a house servant and Wang Mang forced his son to commit suicide. It's worth noting that he would force many of his children (and a grandson) to commit suicide in the coming years. To someone looking at this historically It's clear that Wang Mang, though a Confucian scholar (a philosophy that promoted family ties and not ordering your sons to kill themselves) had a sense of what was right and wrong that went beyond paternal love and as we will later see, common sense.

    Part 3 (open)

    Emperor Ai had always been a sickly man and at the age of 26, died suddenly. Dowager Fu had died one year earlier and no one from her clan was strong willed enough to take control. Leaving the still living Empress Dowager Wang in control. Her first act was to bring Wang Mang out of retirement to effectively take control of the government until an heir could be chosen. Wang Mang's punishment towards those who had slighted him were brutal and humiliating to the point that even Empress Wang begged him to stop. These punishments included:

    *Exiled a large number of officials who did not support him

    *Forcing Emperor Ai's lover, Dong Xian and Dong's wife to commit suicide and burying their bodies in a prison.

    *The Members of Emperor Ai's clan were demoted and exiled to their ancestral lands

    *He demoted two Empress Dowagers who had been friendly with Dowager Fu to commoner status and ordered them to guard their husbands tombs (Emperor Cheng and Emperor Ai respectively). They committed suicide.

    *Empress Dowager Fu was posthumously demoted, he raided her tomb, stripped her casket of jade burial shells then flatten the tomb and surrounded it with thorns.

    After getting all the edgy revenge out of his system, Wang Mang and the Empress Dowager Wang picked a young boy from the royal family who would be known as Emperor Ping, with Wang Mang acting as his regent. Wang Mang then decided to go the route of Best Korea; building up a personality cult around himself by encouraging (I.E. bribing) others to submit false prophecies in which Wang Mang was going to be the second coming of various Chinese mythical Kings and demigods. Then, learning from the mistakes of Empress Dowager Wang, he ordered that Emperor Ping's clan, the Wei's were forbidden from entering the capital at all, let alone visiting the Emperor.

    During this regency we begin to see shreds of Wang Mang's true goals and ideals when he began to restructure various sections of the Bureaucracy to reflect the ancient Zhou and Shang Dynasties.

    Walking Dick joke then petitioned the Empress Dowager to grant him the title of Duke. Which was a noble title that was not included in the Han nobility system (the highest rank was Marquess). Empress Dowager Wang, ever the idiot and having faith in her nephew that she had raised since he was a young man. Agreed to the request and made Wang Mang the first ever Duke of the Han Dynasty.

    He then schemed to have his Daughter marry Emperor Ping by giving the Emperor a set of 12 women he could choose as a wife, with the other 11 becoming his concubines. Wang Mang then publicly asked the Empress Dowager to not consider his own daughter as it would be seen as nepotism. His false display of devotion worked and supporters of Wang Mang, stormed the palace and begged the Empress Dowager to let Wang Mang's daughter be the wife of the emperor. So taken back was she by their love for Wang Mang that she agreed to the marriage, further strengthening Wang Mang's grip on the government.

    So to sum up everything to this point: ITT idiots can't spot a coup til it's too late.

    Actually that's not entirely true. There was one man who knew what Wang Mang was doing and attempted to put a stop to it. It just happened to be his oldest son, Wang Yu. At first, Wang Yu tried a diplomatic approach between his Father and the Emperor's clan, the Wei's. With Emperor Ping's mother swearing she wouldn't attempt to become Empress Dowager like Dowager Fu did. Wang Mang was not convinced and still refused to let the Wei's visit Emperor Ping or come to the capital.

    After that Wang Yu schemed with the Wei's to try to loosen his Father's grip on power in a absolutely stupid fucking manner. His plan was to fake supernatural incidents to appear as bad omens to Wang Mang for having too much power. To do this Wang Yu would have a servant throw blood on Wang Mang's front door at night, so when he woke up it would be as if the blood came from the heavens. This plan was so brilliant that the servant was immediately caught, the entire Wei family was killed and Wang Mang forced his oldest son to commit suicide. This began a purge in which Wang Mang killed any possible threats to him, including royal princesses, one of his grandchildren and other members of his own clan (though he told the Empress Dowager that they had died from illness).

    As Emperor Ping began to grow older, it was clear that he hated Wang Mang for basically slaughtering his entire family and using him as a puppet to further his own ends. Wang Mang acted swiftly and poisoned the Young Emperor's wine, who died a few days later at around 13-14 years old.

    At this point Wang Mang purposely selected another child whom he could control (rather than the dozens of adult candidates that were far more legitimate) known as Emperor Ruzi. The baby was just one year old when he was chosen and despite being called Emperor, never technically became an emperor. For Wang Mang forced the Empress Dowager to make himself “Acting Emperor” until the boy came of age. However by then Wang Mang was ready to create his own dynasty and had Ruzi under such a strict house arrest, that when he was an adult he could not name common farm animals like cows, sheep or chickens.

    Part 4 (open)

    Wang Mang declared the end of the Han Dynasty in 9 A.D and himself Emperor of the newly established Xin dynasty which would last until 23 A.D. and would be a complete and utter disaster. Mainly because Wang Mang made the classic strategical mistake of not doing a single intelligent thing. Lets talk about them shall we!

    Here is a list of dumb shit you can do to make everyone fucking hate you

    * Wang Mang decreed a unheard of land redistribution system where all the land in the empire became the legal property of the empire and was distributed to the populace accordingly. Any family with less than 8 members who had more than 0.6 kilometers of land was to lose the “excess” land. Land transactions were completely banned, though original owners of the land would continue to posses the property (at least that half a kilometer of land that is). Wang Mang drew inspiration from the Zhou Dynasties “Well-field system”. Because basing your complex bureaucratic Empire off the concepts of a long dead primitive culture from thousands of years ago is such a great idea, Wang Mang was forced to repeal the decree only three years after making it law.

    *Set up a “sloth tax” meaning that if land-owners left their fields uncultivated or urban citizens left their houses without trees they were charged with a tax, if they could not pay the tax they were hauled off to labor camps.

    *He instituted the first ever income tax in China's history at a flat ten percent but only for professionals (such as Doctors and scholars) and skilled laborers.

    *Enacted a state monopoly on weapons and liquor

    *replaced the simple Han currency with an extremely complicated one using 28 different types of coins that were made of gold, silver, tortoise shells, sea shells and copper. When asked why he would enact such a fucking stupid policy, Wang Mang responded with “Muh Zhou Dynasty”. Wang Mang was eventually forced to abandon the 28 coins and stick with only two. The “small” coins which had the same value as the Han coins and “large” coins which were worth about 50 small coins. People had lost faith in the coins and continued to use the Han coins in a black market economy despite the harsh punishments for doing so.

    *Literally pissed off every single foreign tribe that the Han had placated decades ago just by being a fucking idiot. Literally. Every. Single. One. Lets look at them all!

    -Fucked up relations with the Xiongnu tribes by changing their vassal status from “Ferocious slave” to “Respectful slave” (indicating that the Xiongnu had been subjugated by Wang Mang) then ordered the smaller Wuhuan tribe to stop paying tribute to the Xiongnu and instead paying tribute only to the Xin Dynasty, this went about as well as you would expect and resulted in a costly war that Wang Mang handled extremely poorly by not listening to his generals and doing whatever the fuck he felt like.

    -The south western Tribes enjoyed good relations with the Han, Wang Mang ruined that by demoting their status from Royal princes to Marquess's

    -The Korean tribes took advantage of the weak borders and marched on Xin, the army Wang Mang sent was defeated and the general used trickery to kill the Tribes leader. Wang Mang further enraged the Koreans by changing the name of Korean territory from Gaojuli (Gao meaning high) to Xiajuli (Xia meaning low). This resulted in the Koreans attacking the border even more brutally

    -Wang Mang insulted the two Wusun kingdoms by paying greater respects towards the lesser king instead of the greater king. This resulted in war and the two armies Wang Mang sent out were routed.

    -All this happened withing the first year of Wang Mang's ascent to the imperial throne.

    *Wang Mang was fanatic about bringing the Government back to the standards of the Zhou Dynasty, believing that once things were back to the old ways everything would fix itself. What this translated to was himself and a bunch of scholars spending their days reading ancient text to help them bring the country back to the Zhou Dynasty instead of answering immediate problems regarding the state.

    *Because of how Wang Mang usurped the throne, he was naturally suspicious of his subordinate and gave them no actual power. He made all important decisions by himself which left him exhausted every day resulting in important petitions left unanswered.

    *The Han dynasty had a well defined salary system for paying government officials. Wang Mang got rid of it and decided to implement a new system because.... you guessed it “Muh Zhou Dynasty”. However it takes years for a salary system to be overhauled and implemented and during Wang Mang's entire reign, no official was ever paid, forcing most to extort the populace and except bribes to support their families. Corruption was at its absolute worst.

    *despite Wang Mang making everything worse, the infrastructure of the Han allowed for the country to not completely collapse from the incompetence. Though the infrastructure could not prevent the yellow river from flooding and destroying crops, resulting in a famine. The flood led many to believe that Wang Mang had lost the mandate of heaven.

    *There were a total of seven of rebellions that resulted from the famine crisis. With most of them kicking the imperial armies asses due to Wang Mang no longer knowing what the fuck he was doing.

    *Wang Mang originally sent out messengers to pardon the rebels in the hopes of placating them. The rebels often told the messengers they were rebelling because they could not make a living and were therefore forced to rebel. Messengers who came back sometimes gave Wang Mang the truth, but others told him that they were simple traitors who needed to be killed. Wang listened to those who lied and removed those who told the truth.

    *He removed his heir, Wang Lin, an able man and replaced him with the older son who was seen as lacking in talents. Wang Mang later discovered that Wang Lin was having an affair with one of the his mother's ladies-in-waiting and that both of them conspired to kill Wang Mang. He ordered Wang Lin to commit suicide by poisoning. His son refused and used a sword instead.

    Part 5 (open)

    Wang Mang's reign, and dynasty lasted for a total of 14 years. By the end of it, the peasant rebellions had joined forces with the surviving Han family and sacked the capital. Before the rebel army could reach Wang Mang however, the citizens within the walls stormed the palace, killed all of his servants and government officials and his last surviving child, a daughter. Wang Mang was killed in the fighting. Then the citizens fought over the credit for killing the Emperor and dozens died as a result. It was said that Wang Mang's body was slices into pieces and his head was placed on a spike, was later removed and kicked around and his tongue was cut out. Typical Game of Thrones shit really. Eventually the head was preserved and kept in a court vault until it perished in a fire about two centuries later.

    It's important to note that it takes a special kind of man to completely ruin a country. Compare Wang Mang to a typical bad ruler, like Caligula for example. Caligula was your typical crazy ruler who spent an enormous amount of money and killed a lot of people. But he didn't actually destroy the infrastructure. He wasn't smart enough to know how to do that.

    Wang Mang did just that. He was by all means an intelligent and capable individual but his inability let go of the past and his blind devotion that once everything looked like the Zhou Dynasty everything would be okay. One of his biggest failures was changing the names of every single county and province to their traditional names from the Zhou Dynasty.

    Imagine if that happened today. Imagine if some guy took over the United States but he had this huge hard on for the Roman Empire and decided to rename every state, every county, every geographic landmark, every fucking road to some new bullshit roman name. The logistics behind that would be extraordinarily hard and ridiculously expensive. But fuck it, Roman culture amirite guis?


    The Chinese even to this day are a stickler to tradition. But men like Wang Mang are an example of what happens when tradition is taken too far and innovation and proper government is side-lined in favor of turning things back to how they used to be (or more likely perceived as how they used to be).

    I think I'll end this little essay with a quote from an 18th century Chinese historian, Zhao Yi, whose quote can also be found on Wang Mang's Wikipedia page:

    Truth (open)
    The entire empire was already collapsing, but Wang Mang did not care, but rather buried his head in what is old, believing that once he returned the government structure to the old days, the empire will be peaceful. He only sought to establish proper ceremony and music day and night, and he sought to create explanations for all of the Confucian Classics by making tortured interpretations, without spending time on the important affairs of state. Before he could complete his ceremonies and music, he was already killed. This kind of behavior is even more childish than a three-year-old child. There is a common contemporary idiom, "foolishness is but a form of trickery." But for Wang Mang, his trickery was only a form of foolishness.

    I hope you all enjoyed this long ass read and I hope I made it just entertaining enough to not be too dry. If you guys want I can write more stuff up and if not. Well it was a cool little experiment.
    If I do decided to write more stuff I don't know how consistent I'll be. I got school and work to do but I'm sure I can crank out more stuff
    #1 Slade, Jan 21, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2016
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