The Qing Dynasty’s Last Leader was a Woman: Part 1 of 2

June 19, 2018

Empress Dowager Tzu Hsi ruled the Qing Dynasty as a coregent after her husband, the Xianfeng Emperor died in 1861, and her son, The Tongzhi Emperor (1856 – 1875), was too young at age five to rule China.

Sterling Seagrave, the author of Dragon Lady, writes, “Absurdly little was known about her life. The New York Times printed a long, error filled obituary calling her Tzu An, the title of her coregent, who had died twenty-seven years earlier.”

Many current history texts continue to slander the Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi (1835 – 1908) without much evidence as one of history’s most monstrous women, an alleged ruthless Manchu concubine who seduced and murdered her way to the throne in 1861 to rule China through prevision, corruption and intrigue.

This is how many still think of Tzu Hsi. In addition, she was accused of murdering her son, and then years later her nephew, who died the day before she did.

Instead, her son died of syphilis because he preferred prostitutes to the hundreds of virgin concubines that belonged to him. Rumors claimed that Tzu Hsi had her nephew poisoned, but Yuan Shikai may have had him poisoned so he could become the next emperor. There is no evidence to support either allegation.

How did Tzu Hsi earn such a bad reputation?

It seems that she earned this reputation similar to how today’s China has been smeared in much of the Western media. Thanks to a liar and fraud by the name of Edmund Backhouse, who was a reporter for The London Times and his bestselling book “China under the Empress Dowagers”, Tzu Hsi’s fate to be labeled a monster and murderer  was guaranteed until 1976 when Backhouse’s fraud and lies were revealed.

Continued in Part 2 on June 20, 2018

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Most Popular Drink in the World originated in China and was stolen by the British

June 12, 2018

Tea is the most popular drink in the world second only to water. Its consumption equals all other manufactured drinks combined including coffee, chocolate, soft drinks, and alcohol, and China is still the leading tea producer in the world.

If you are interested in a real-life collision between the West and China early in the 19th century, I highly recommend reading Sarah Rose’s heavily researched nonfiction book For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History.

In this book, you will discover that the British Empire and its merchants were successful, because they were more ruthless and devious than anyone else on Earth. When China’s last Dynasty collided with the British Empire, the Qing Emperors probably had no idea who they were dealing with.

The British Empire was the largest in history, and it covered more than thirteen-million square miles (20,921,472 square kilometers), which is about a quarter of the Earth’s total land area, and it controlled more than 500 million people, a quarter of the world’s population at the time.

What financed the brutal expansion of this empire?  In the 19th century the British Empire was not only a thief, but the largest drug cartel in human history. After all, it was the British that forced Opium on China and fought two Opium Wars to make that happen. How do you think the British paid for the expansion of their empire?

The real-life main character in Sara Rose’s fascinating, true, fact-based story is Robert Fortune (1812 – 1880) who successfully pulled off one of, if not the largest, act of corporate espionage and theft in history. This nonfiction book is about how the British stole tea plants and the method of producing tea from China and successfully transplanted this industry in India where the British were also growing the opium they were selling to the Chinese.

If you drink Darjeeling Tea from India, you are drinking a product that was stolen from China by Robert Fortune in the early half of the 19th century.

But there is much more to this story than the theft of tea from the country that has the earliest records of tea drinking dating back to the first millennium BCE, because this nonfiction book reads like a spy thriller. If caught, Fortune would have been executed by the Chinese. To pull off the biggest heist of all time, he disguised himself as Chinese and traveled to areas of China that no foreigner had ever visited before, and his only companions were Chinese that he had bribed to work for him.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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China’s Last Imperial Dynasty was not ruled by the Han Chinese: Part 2 of 3

June 7, 2018

The next Qing Emperor Yongzheng ruled from 1722 to 1735, and he was frugal like his father.

Yongzheng created an effective government and used military force to preserve the dynasty’s position as his father had. Under his leadership, he continued the era of peace and prosperity by cracking down on corruption and waste while reforming the financial administration of the empire.

The next one was the Qianlong Emperor, also known as the warrior emperor, and he ruled China for much of the 18th century (1735 – 1796). During his leadership, he subdued several rebellions known as the “ten successful campaigns”, which drained the Qing Dynasty’s treasury. These rebellions went on for forty-five years from 1747 to 1792.

However, when the Qianlong Emperor died, China was unified, at peace, and still strong. He was a brilliant military leader and expanded the empire further into Mongolia and Tibet.

During Qianlong’s rule, Manchu and Chinese armies spread Qing sovereignty over Burma and Nepal.

In addition, Chinese settlers in Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan, and Taiwan dealt with rebellions of the aboriginal tribes that could only be subdued by military force. Muslim people also resisted the Qing regime in Gansu and Xinjiang.

Part 3 will be posted on June 8, 2018 or return to Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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China’s Last Imperial Dynasty was not ruled by the Han Chinese: Part 1 of 3

June 6, 2018

The Qing Dynasty can be traced back to the 1580s when a Manchurian chieftain Nurhachi (1558–1626) unified the Jurchen tribes in an area north of the Great Wall of China. In time, Nurachi controlled most of Manchuria. In 1616, Nurhachi declared himself khan, and founded the Later Jin Dynasty, that his successors renamed in 1636, the Qing Dynasty.

He launched his war against China in 1618. In February 1626, he was defeated for the first time by the Chinese and died of his wounds by the end of September.

In 1644, his son Dorgon conquered China. However, the Chinese fought hard to drive the Manchurians from China and continued resistance in Southern China until crushed.

The second emperor of the Qing Dynasty was Kangxi (1654 – 1722) who ruled for sixty-two years and is considered by many historians one of the ablest emperors to govern the vast Chinese empire. He laid the foundation of a long period of political stability and economic prosperity for China.

The rebellions Kangxi put down was called the Rebellion of the Three Feudatories, which lasted from 1673 to 1681.

Then there was the pirate-merchant Zheng Chenggong, who set up an independent kingdom on the island of Taiwan. Eventually, that kingdom was defeated and brought back into the Qing empire.

The Kangxi emperor also fought wars with Russia from 1685 until 1689 when the Treaty of Nerchinsk was signed.

Next were the campaigns against the Mongols until they were defeated. In 1720, the Qing Dynasty occupied Tibet adding that region to the empire.

However, even in times of war, the Kangxi emperor provided tax relief for the people, and he was known as a frugal and wise leader. When he died, he left China strong and in good financial shape

It is also well known that the Qing Dynasty did not trust the Han Chinese and went out of its way to hire foreigners to fill government positions held by Han Chinese for centuries.

Part 2 will be posted on June 7, 2018

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Ming Dynasty’s Star-Crossed Lovers

June 5, 2018

China’s Romeo and Juliet, “The Peony Pavilion”, was a play written by Tang Xianzu and was first performed in 1598, forty-six years before the end of the Ming Dynasty.

Someone might assume that Xianzu borrowed from Shakespeare’s play, but that would be a wrong assumption because in the 16th century there was no internet, no television, no radio, no telephones, no TV, and it took months to sail from England to China. Communication and the sharing of ideas happened at a snail’s pace.

It was clearly a coincidence that Tang Xianzu came up with the idea of China’s Romeo and Juliet a few months after Shakespeare wrote his first version.

In fact, the Encyclopedia Britannica reports that “Romeo and Juliet” had a bumpy start.  “Romeo and Juliet, the play by William Shakespeare, was written about 1594–96 and first published in an unauthorized quarto in 1597. An authorized quarto appeared in 1599.” Two years after “The Peony Pavilion” (first) appeared on stage in China.

In addition, the star-crossed lovers that appear in the “The Peony Pavilion” also tragically die for love, but their plight is described in a much more mournful tone than Shakespeare’s version.

You might also be surprised to learn that Shakespeare is popular in China since his work is taught in most Chinese universities both in English and in Chinese.

Enid Tsui writes, “It’s had its ups and downs but, 400 years after William Shakespeare’s death, China’s affinity with The Bard is as strong as ever.”

However, The People’s Republic of Shakespeare, Adventures in Chinese Research says that many of the Romeo and Juliets performed in China are either parodies or rewrites where one of the lovers survives in the end because too many Chinese have experienced too much sadness in their lives thanks to Japan’s brutal invasion of China during World War II and China’s long bloody Civil War followed by the suffering caused by Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Although Established by a Nationalistic Religious Cult, the Ming Dynasty Was Not a Total Failure

May 30, 2018

During the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644), great achievements were recorded in architecture, shipbuilding, porcelain making, and textile weaving.

Eighty years before the British discovered what caused scurvy, Chinese sailors were not suffering from this disease because the Chinese had developed porcelain containers to grow bean sprouts in while the ships were crossing oceans.  Bean sprouts are a rich source of vitamin C.

During his voyages, Admiral Zheng He took more than 10,000 copies of books to give away in the hope of spreading Chinese civilization and traditional Confucian ideas. Instead of diseases and cannonballs that were ruthlessly used to spread colonialism out of Europe, the Chinese gave away books.

Of all the textile industries, silk weaving was number one and could be found in almost every large and small town in Southern China.

Shang Chuan, a Research Fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences says, “Textiles in China have a long history (back to the Warring States Period, BC 475-221). By the Ming Dynasty… large workshops had appeared, although work was still done by hand.

“However, compared with the old family production model, large worships were superior as the products were quality guaranteed, all looked the same and were the same standard.”

The silk industry in China was the beginning of modern manufacturing. As many think, modern manufacturing techniques did not start in England in the 18th century. It started in China centuries earlier.

The reputation of the Chinese products that Admiral Zheng He took with him on his voyages brought him considerable honor and made him welcome everywhere he visited. On his sixth voyage, he reached the African coast and twelve hundred envoys from sixteen African and Asian countries returned to China with Zheng He’s fleet.

In Beijing, the Ming Emperor presented these envoys with forty-thousand roles of silk and brocade.

Even before the Ming Dynasty, China had been sending diplomatic missions overland to the West for centuries and trade had extended as far as east Africa.

However, never before had a government-sponsored mission the size of Zheng He’s fleet been organized.  His voyages were a vivid demonstration of the economic and cultural prosperity of the Ming Dynasty.

The Great Wall, which the Ming Dynasty had continued to rebuild, modernize and strengthen, stretched from China’s eastern coast to the far northwest. This Great Wall is what tourists in China see today.

In 1637, the largest encyclopedia of ancient China was published. It was a comprehensive book covering science and handicraft technologies. Another encyclopedia was published on agriculture. A third described China’s geology in detail. A fourth was the most comprehensive medical book in Chinese history, the Compendium of Materia Medica.

Meanwhile, The Industrial Revolution in Europe would not start in Britain until about 1760, more than a century after the Ming Dynasty had been replaced in 1655 by the Manchu led Qing Dynasty.

However, after 1433, the Ming Dynasty turned inward and became isolated from the world, setting the stage for its collapse and the madness and horror that followed for more than a century up to 1949.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Ming Dynasty’s Second Emperor was the opposite of Hongwu

May 29, 2018

Before Emperor Hongwu (the 1st emperor of the Ming Dynasty), died, he made arrangements so his oldest grandson would become the next emperor. To ensure this wouldn’t fail, he had all the “potential” enemies of his grandson killed. Hongwu did this because he wanted someone to replace him that thought like him.

However, that grandson didn’t become the second emperor of the Ming Dynasty. Instead, Hongwu’s fourth son became that emperor, and he became Emperor Yongle who ruled 1402 – 1424.  Before his father died, Yongle had been sent to guard the north against the nomads and was given the title of King Yan. Due to his success at driving back the Mongols, he had the support of China’s nobility to become emperor.

After a bloodbath to gain the throne, he became emperor and reversed his father’s decisions reopening China to world trade.

In 1404, Yongle also decided to move the capital from Nanjing to Beijing since that city was situated in an important strategic position between Mongolia and the plains of northern China, twenty miles from the Great Wall.

Before moving from Nanjing, Yongle had Beijing rebuilt with a new palace now known as The Forbidden City. The materials for this construction came from all over China with most of it being carried on barges along the Grand Canal.

Emperor Yongle also wanted to learn more about the world, so he had a huge fleet of ships built that the world had never seen before, and he put a Muslim eunuch by the name of Zheng He in charge.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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