The repeating Chinese crossbow led to the modern machine gun

April 11, 2018

Vendian.org reports, “The crossbow was invented in Ancient China during the Zhou dynasty, around the year 700 BC. … They had a range of up to 650 feet. The crossbow had a firing mechanism, which was so complicated that it would have been nearly impossible for an enemy to understand how it worked, thus reducing the chance that the crossbow could be copied by hostile civilizations. …  And, in the eleventh century, rapid-firing crossbows were developed that could fire 20 arrows in only 15 seconds.”

The mechanism that made this Chinese eleventh-century repeating crossbow work was the forerunner to the modern machine gun.

The Chinese also invented the stirrup around the fourth century A.D. Before that invention, all of the people on earth rode horses without stirrups and staying on horseback while fighting was a challenge. Scientific American says the “Invention of the stirrup may rival that of the longbow and gunpowder.”

Thanks to stirrups, the horse became a more stable platform for war. Prior to the stirrup, it was common for a man to ride about seven miles a day. After the stirrup, that distance was extended to as much as seventy miles a day.

The invention of the stirrup along with the repeating crossbow created powerful weapons. The Chinese could also manufacture items in mass, quickly and efficiently. The Chinese used pottery molds to accomplish this—even to build the advanced trigger mechanism for the crossbow. When it came to cast iron, the Chinese were a thousand years ahead of the world.

However, by the time of the Sung Dynasty, the world was catching up because China’s enemies were stealing their technology.  It’s ironic that today, many in the West accuse the Chinese of stealing innovations. If so, China is only doing what was done to them centuries ago.

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 Taoist search for Immortality led to millions of early Deaths instead

April 3, 2018

Gunpowder was discovered by accident in China a thousand years ago and it was called fire medicine. While mixing ingredients to find an elixir for immortality, Chinese scientists stumbled on the formula. Fireworks and rockets came first to scare away evil spirits.

In fact, several ingredients for gunpowder were in wide use for medicinal purposes during the Spring and Autumn Period of China’s history (722 – 481 BC).

Sulfur is the main ingredient of gunpowder, and gunpowder was first developed during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD). During the Northern Sung Dynasty, in 1044 AD, the book “Essentials of Military Art” published several formulas for gunpowder production.

Asian Education reports, “During the Song dynasty, gunpowder technology was further refined for military purposes and many kinds of firearms were invented. In the year 1000, Tang Fu designed and manufactured a gunpowder arrow, gunpowder ball, and barbed gunpowder packages and donated them to the Song emperor. In 1132, the fire lance was introduced with gunpowder in a long bamboo tube. When fired, flames were projected on the enemy. In 1259, a fire-spitting lance was enhanced with bullets. When fired, bullets were ejected with the flames.”

One theory says that the knowledge of gunpowder went to Europe along the Silk Road around the start of the 13th century, hundreds of years after being discovered in China. It is also ironic, that Britain and France used advanced gunpowder weapons to defeat China during the 19th century in the two Opium Wars.

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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Reunification after the Han Dynasty: Part 2 of 2

February 21, 2018

The only way to fight this battle would be across a small front with the armies facing each other. In August 208 AD, the enemy army approached the front of Cao Cao’s troops.

After a three month standoff, Cao Cao took a small force and led a night raid to the town where the enemy stored its food supplies and burned them.

When the battle with Yuan Shao’s army finally took place, Cao Cao used deception to make the enemy believe he was attacking in the east when he was in the west fifty kilometers from where the enemy expected him.

That deception caused the enemy general to divide his army, and while he was marching east, Cao Cao moved quickly to attack the other half of Yuan Shao’s unprepared army ending in victory.

In 189 AD, the emperor died and there was a power struggle to see who would control the dynasty. Thousands were murdered, and Cao Cao became the power behind the powerless, last emperor.

Due to the years of struggle, many of the farms had been abandoned leading to famine. Cao Cao became prime minister and reestablished the farms around the capital to end the famine. To deal with danger, each farm was populated with farmers and soldiers to work the land.

The harvests from those farms ended the famine.

Soon after Cao Cao’s death, Wei defeated the other two kingdoms and reunified China establishing the Western Jin Dynasty (265 – 420 AD). In death, Cao Cao was honored and named Emperor Wei Wudi.

Return to or Start with 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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Reunification after the Han Dynasty: Part 1 of 2

February 20, 2018

The man credited for reuniting China after the end of the Han Dynasty was Cao Cao who lived 155 – 220 AD, but he didn’t succeed. He just set the stage for what happened after he was dead.

Cao Cao also appears as a character in the historical novel The Romance of the Three Kingdoms written in the 14th century by Luo Guanzhong.  The novel was based on historical events that took place during the turbulent years near the end of the Han Dynasty when China fell into chaos and anarchy.

According to historical records, Cao Cao was a brilliant leader and military genius. However, in literature and opera, he has often been portrayed as a cruel and despotic tyrant, an image of a Chinese ruler unique in history.

During his lifetime, there was the three kingdoms of Wei, Shuhan, and Wu. Cao Cao led Wei in Northern China. When the war to reunify China took place, Cao Cao started out with the smallest military force of ten thousand troops.

But Cao Cao must have studied Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. His battle plans against the rival army of Yuan Shao was evidence of a military genius. He carefully studied the terrain and selected the location where the battle would be fought so his smaller army could not be outflanked or surrounded.

Continued with Part 2 on February 15, 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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China after the Han Dynasty during the Three Kingdoms (220-265 AD)

December 19, 2017

I enjoy reading historical fiction. I also watch movies and TV series based on history. For instance, I recently watched the BBC’s Season 2 for The Last Kingdom (this one doesn’t take place in China).

Back in 2008, I bought the first version of the TV series for The Romance of the Three Kingdoms (1995), an epic about China’s history that has 84 episodes (45 minutes each for 63-hours). Based on the classical novel by Luo Guanzhong, this epic series covers the end of the Han Dynasty.


This episode with English subtitles is from a remake (2010) of the TV series.

Don’t let the title fool you. This story is not about romance as Westerners define that word. This historical fiction, based on fact, is about the romance of politics, war, and conquest. But don’t be disappointed, because there’s even a love story that comes with the ultimate sacrifice.

The novel was written in the 14th century and was more than a thousand pages long with 120 chapters. The translated English version is longer. After the Han Dynasty collapsed (206 BC to 219 AD), China shattered into three warring kingdoms.

This story is about how China was reunified as one nation again a few decades after the collapse of the Han Dynasty (205 B.C. – 220 A.D. I’ve seen the entire series once and plan to watch it again. When Jesus Christ was born, the Han Dynasty was more than 200 years old and had more than two hundred years left before it came to an end.

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the man that unified China more than 2,000 years ago.

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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War with North Korea and What China wants: part 2 of 2

November 1, 2017

North Korea is frozen in time, but South Korea and China have evolved and adapted to the global economy.  It is in China’s interest to see North Korea merge with South Korea and become a capitalist nation, but achieving that goal will not be easy and a nuclear war with North Korea is not the answer.

The Independent, another publication in the UK, explains what nuclear war between the U.S. and North Korea might look like. “The most immediate reaction would likely be massive artillery fire on Seoul and its surroundings. North Korean artillery installations along the border can be activated faster than air or naval assets and larger ballistic missiles that can target South Korean, Japanese or American bases in the region with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Those countries have ballistic-missile-defence systems in place but can’t guarantee they will shoot down everything. Japan has begun offering advice to its citizens on what to do in the event a missile lands near them — essentially try to get under ground — and US firms are marketing missile shelters. While it’s unclear if North Korea can successfully target US cities like Denver and Chicago with a nuclear ICBM, it’s similarly unknown if US defence systems can strike it down — adding to American anxieties.”

The New Yorker reports, “The Obama Administration studied the potential costs and benefits of a preventive war intended to destroy North Korea’s nuclear weapons. Its conclusion, according to Rice, in the Times, was that it would be ‘lunacy,’ resulting in ‘hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of casualties.’ North Korea likely would retaliate with an attack on Seoul. The North has positioned thousands of artillery cannons and rocket launchers in range of the South Korean capital, which has a population of ten million, and other densely populated areas. (Despite domestic pressure to avoid confrontation, South Korea’s President, Moon Jae-in, has accepted the installation of an American missile-defense system called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or thaad.)”

And we shouldn’t forget this fact also reported by The New Yorker. Some two hundred thousand Americans live in South Korea.

The New Yorker correctly called this lunacy the Madman Theory, but isn’t that who Donald Trump is: a madman, a serial liar, a failed businessman, and a bully?

Who do you think China fears more Donald Trump or Kim Jong-un and his brutal regime? And the answer is simple. All you have to do is compare how many nuclear weapons the U.S. has vs North Korea. The Independent reports North Korea has 60 compared to 6,800 for the United States.

If you have watched the two videos in Part 1 and 2, you will know what is at risk for all of us on this planet called Earth. There is hope. Trump might also be a barking dog that doesn’t bite.

UPDATE

The Telegraph reports, “China ‘detains North Korean assassins seeking Kim Jong-un’s dissident nephew Kim Han-sol’

“It is possible that Kim Han-sol and his family remained in China under the protection of Beijing, which also extended protection for his father when he was in the country. There have been suggestions that Beijing saw Kim Jong-nam as as a potential North Korean leader should his half-brother be overthrown.”

Return to or start with 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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War with North Korea and what China wants: part 1 of 2

October 31, 2017

The Telegraph in the UK asked, “Did Kim Jung-un kill his uncle and brother over a ‘coup plot involving China’?” From what I’m hearing from my sources in China, the answer is yes. China did try to get rid of Kum Jung-un. For more details about this alleged and failed coup attempt, click the link in this paragraph and read what The Telegraph says.

In the past, when the United States and North Korea threatened each other, China’s response has been for the “relevant parties” to “calmly and properly handle the issue and avoid escalation of tension.”

What has changed? The answer is simple. The current president of the United States is a serial liar, a racist, a bully, a malignant narcissist and a psychopath-sociopath (if it is possible to be both at the same time). Donald Trump is clearly more dangerous, unstable, and insane than Kum Jung-un is. Kim Jung-un is more like the barking dog who might never bite, because he knows if he bites, he will die and so will most of the people that live in his little kingdom.

In the past, China has been reluctant to be sucked into North Korea’s problems with the United States, because China has a history with Korea going back to the Tang Dynasty in 688 AD, when there was an alliance with Silla, a Korean state.

It’s also because Chinese culture, written language, and political institutions have had an influence in Korea since the 4th century and in the 14th century, Korea came under the influence of Confucian thought influenced by Buddhism and Daoism (Taoism). Even today, China has more in common with the people of North Korea and their culture than China has with the United States.

But that 1,700-year old relationship between China and Korea might not be enough to protect North Korea now that the United States has an unpredictable madman and lunatic for its president.

Why did China allow itself to be bullied by Trump to tame a beast it cannot control? The answer is simple and it is Donald Trump and his insane tweets threatening to nuke North Korea.

In an essay written by Sung-Yoon Lee in Hillsdale College’s Imprimis newsletter, he discussed Keeping the Peace: American in Korea 1950 – 2010.

Professor Lee is an adjunct assistant professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and an associate in research at the Korea Institute at Harvard University.

Professor Lee says, “It is important for Washington to hold quiet consultations with Beijing to prepare jointly for a unified Korea under Seoul’s direction, a new polity that will be free, peaceful, capitalist, pro-U.S. and pro-China.”

But Donald Trump has clearly demonstrated that he doesn’t have the patience or intelligence to be part of a quiet consultation with Beijing to fix the North Korean problem. Even after the alleged and failed plot that China was willing to risk to get rid of Kim Jong-un, Donald Trump’s lunatic Twitter raving hasn’t stopped.

When Mao ruled China, North Korea and Communist China looked like evil twins, but today that is not the case because Mao died in 1976 and so did the China he was building. In the 1980s, China emerged as a hybrid one-party republic with term and age limits for its political leaders, so one man would never rule China like Mao did for 26 years.

In fact, China has a lot to lose because China’s middle class is more than 300-million people with an estimate that by 2030 that number will be more than 700-million.

Continued in Part 2 on November 1, 2017

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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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline