Tales of the Tang Dynasty

If you were to ask which Chinese dynasty inspires the most nostalgia in Chinese people today, many would answer: the Tang dynasty.

The Tang Dynasty (618–907) is considered by most to be part of the Golden Age of Ancient China. During this time, Chinese art and culture flourished, peace and prosperity were brought to the country, and China had some of the greatest national strength and power. The Tang Dynasty is when poetry became an integral part of Chinese culture, and other forms of writing such as short stories and histories became popular as well. Many of the most well-known Chinese stories and history come from the Tang Dynasty. For example, the only female emperor in Chinese history, Wu Zetian, ruled during the Tang Dynasty. Additionally, the figure of Tang Sanzang in “Journey to the West” also lived during the Tang Dynasty; The poignant love story between Yang Yuhuan (one of the Four Great Beauties of ancient China) and the emperor Tang Xuanzong was also during this period.

In our “Tang Dynasty” series, we will introduce you to Tang history through a series of interesting stories. After completing the course, you will be familiar with many of the major events that occurred during the Tang Dynasty from the founding to the demise. The lessons are in chronological order, allowing you to follow the story of the Tang Dynasty through history thousands of years ago. These stories will allow you to spy on the life of an emperor, experience the life of the people of that time, and understand the folk customs and culture. All of the stories included are well-known to most native Chinese. 

Why do so many Chinese people look back fondly on the Tang Dynasty? After you finish this course you should know the answer!

About our “Tales of the Tang Dynasty” Course

Level: Master (HSK6)

Schedule: 2 lessons per week

Total: 12 lessons

Every lesson has recording by a native speaker, sentence by sentence translation, pinyin, etc

The course is primarily centered around the following characters:

Emperor Taizong

Emperor Taizong (Li Shimin) was the second emperor of the Tang Dynasty, and one of China’s most well-known emperors. Even today, there are many books and television series that enthusiastically discuss his legendary life. 

In a coup known as the “Xuanwu Gate Incident”, Li Shimin killed his two brothers and then took control of the throne after the abdication of Emperor Taizu, becoming Emperor Taizong. It was not a glorious act, but looking past that, he loved the people, and he knew how to judge people and make good use of them. During his reign, the Tang Dynasty gave rise to unprecedented prosperity.

In our “Tales of the Tang Dynasty Course”, we have two lessons talking about Emperor Taizong’s stories.

Related Lessons:

China’s Most Famous Emperor: Li Shimin

The Emperor’s Mirror: Wei Zheng

Princess Wencheng

Princess Wencheng was Emperor Taizong’s daughter. In order to unite the two Han and Tibetan ethnic groups, she married the head of the Tibetan Tubo Dynasty Songtsen Gampo to cement a friendly relationship.

Although a political marriage, Songtsen Gampo was extremely devoted to Princess Wencheng and ordered Potala Palace in Tibet to be built for her — the world’s highest building above sea level.

Princess Wencheng lived in Tibet for 40 years, aiding Songtsen Gampo in governing Tibet, and made huge contributions to Han-Tibet peaceful diplomatic relations.

In our “Tales of the Tang Dynasty Course”, we have two lessons talking about Princess Wencheng’s stories.

Related Lessons:

Songtsen Gampo’s Journey to Find a Wife

Princess Wencheng Enters Tubo


You may have heard the story of “Journey to the West”, one of China’s four Great Classical Novels. “Journey to the West” is the most well known novel in China, telling the story of a monk named Tang Sanzang who traveled to the “Western Regions” seeking the “Three Collections of (Buddhist) Scriptures”.

The character Tang Sanzang in “Journey to the West” is based on the historical Buddhist monk Xuanzang. However, unlike the Tang Sanzang in the novel, the real Xuanzang is a brave adventurer.

In our “Tales of the Tang Dynasty Course”, we have a lesson telling you the real Xuanzang’s story.

Related Lessons:

The True Story of Xuanzang

 Female Emperor Wu Zetian

Wu Zetian was the only female emperor in the history of China. 

Wu Zetian was one of  Emperor Taizong’s concubines, sent away to a convent after his death, but Taizong’s son Gaozong—long in love with her, and initiated her return to the court after he became emperor. Wu proclaimed herself Empress after Gaozong’s death. and announced a new dynasty, the Zhou. During the reign of Wu Zetian, she carried out many reforms to make the Tang Dynasty grow stronger than before. In 705, Wu Zetian was forced to abdicate and Emperor Zhongzong (whom she had deposed) retook the throne.

In our “Tales of the Tang Dynasty Course”, we have a lesson talking about Emperor Wu Zetian’s lifetime. 

Related Lessons:

China’s Only Female Emperor: Wu Zetian

Emperor Xuanzong

Empress Wu’s grandson, Emperor Xuanzong brought the Tang Dynasty to a golden age in the early stage of his reign. However, everything changed after he fell in love with a girl called Yang Yuhuan. Yang Yuhuan is one of the Four Great Beauties of ancient China. The love story between Emperor Xuanzong and Yang Yuhuan is still talked about by many Chinese people today.

In our “Tales of the Tang Dynasty Course”, we have two lessons talking about the love story between Emperor Xuanzong and Yang Yuhuan. You can learn how they met and how their love story ended in our lessons. 

Related Lessons:

The Love History of an Amorous Emperor

The Death of Yang Guifei

Huang Chao

At the end of Tang dynasty, a large peasant rebellion called the Huang Chao Rebellion broke out. The people had survived flooding and famine, and they rose up against the government. The rebellion’s leader Huang Chao captured the capital Chang’an, forcing Emperor Xizong to flee. Huang proclaimed himself the Qi emperor, but was defeated by the Tang army in 883 and forced to desert Chang’an.

In our “Tales of the Tang Dynasty Course”, we have one lesson talking about the Huang Chao Rebellion. You can learn why the Huang chao rebellion broke out and how the Tang dynasty ended.

Related Lessons:

The Death Knell of the Tang Dynasty

Bits of knowledge about the Tang dynasty

The Tang Dynasty was a golden age of ancient China. With strong national power and an open-minded culture, people enjoyed feasting, drinking, holidays, sports, art, and all sorts of entertainment.

In our “Tales of the Tang Dynasty Course”, we have three lessons to show you the life and culture of the Tang Dynasty. You can learn about fashion, literary achievements and how did Officials go to work in our lessons. 

Related Lessons:

Beauty-loving Men of the Tang Dynasty

How Did Tang Dynasty Officials Work?

Aliens in the Tang Dynasty

A Summer of Reading

The ancients said that summer is best for reading history. Why? Because history books are often relatively thick, and the daytime in summer is long, so it is suitable for reading history books so that you can save on expensive oil lamps at night. Of course, we do not have the problem of lighting oil lamps now, but the summer is coming, and the holiday time is also rich. It is indeed suitable for reading history books and learning Chinese. 

This summer, let us take you into the Tang Dynasty to appreciate China’s most glorious dynasty charm.

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