Three Kingdoms – OverSimplified

This video was made possible by Total War: Three Kingdoms. The brand new strategy game from the multi-award-winning Total War series. Support my channel by using the link in the description down below to buy the game on Steam. Also, new merch available now in the store, including a mystery new character pin. I wonder who it could be? Ancient China. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the children are playing in the village square. “What a wonderful time to be alive! Hey, the Yellow River flooded again and destroyed all your crops. aaand also we’re being raided by nomadic tribesmen, aaaand also this period of Chinese history may be entirely mythical, meaning you may not even exist. Array Well, that would certainly explain the laser eyes. Chinese civilization began around the year 2000 BC, when the (possibly mythical) Xia dynasty was formed. Throughout China’s history, dynasties would usually rise up with a powerful leader who worked for the good of the people. But over time, the leaders would become more corrupt and self-serving. Someone would inevitably build a lake of alcohol and the angry populace would overthrow them, giving way for a new dynasty to rise. Following this pattern, the Xia dynasty was replaced by the Shang, who liked bronze and writing. But then the leaders got corrupt and were replaced by the Zhou, who liked the iron and philosophy. But that one sort of just fell apart and was replaced by the Qin, who liked building walls and people made out of rock. But they were pretty tyrannical from the start, and were quickly replaced by the Han, who liked creating new trade routes and getting in touch with their emotions. In line with this pattern, the Han dynasty came about under the strong and popular leadership of Emperor Gaozu. The dynasty remained firmly in place for over four centuries, and was considered a golden age in Chinese history, developing new forms of art, political thinking, technology… Oh, looks like all the leaders got corrupt. See, probably the biggest problem in ancient China’s political system that allowed so much corruption to come about all the time was a little something called Court Culture. Let me explain. Imagine for me, if you will, that you are the son of the Chinese emperor. Hooray! Now apart from how weird it is that you have a ton of stepmoms and many of them would like to kill you, and also all of your friends are middle-aged dudes with no dongs, life’s pretty alright. One day your father says, “Son, I know our relationship hasn’t been the best, and I’ve never said this before but I just want to let you know that I love y- Oh no! I’m having a heart attack!” (oof) Look at you. Now YOU’re the Emperor. I’m so proud of you. But wait! You are but a child and have no idea how to rule over a massive empire? Fret not! Because just about everyone in your court wants to help you out with that. “Hey, man, remember me? I’m your mom’s bro. Anyway, I heard you needed someone to rule over China for you. I mean to help you rule China. So hey, here’s a popsicle. I hope we can get along.” “No way m an. We’ve been your friends and your personal caretakers your whole life, and even though we may have no dongs, I think you should give US all the power to rule China. I mean, help you rule China.” So who will you be influenced by? Your scheming uncle, or your loyal eunuchs? And towards the end of the Han dynasty, a string of child emperors allowed more and more power to fall into the hands of the eunuchs. Oh no! Now they’re scheming too! They began handing out government jobs for bribes, heavily taxing the poor for their own wealth, and while you’re sitting there eating your popsicle, everyone in your court is literally murdering each other to try and consolidate more power and riches for themselves, while all the peasants are outside like: “Hey, did you guys know there’s been a drought out here for two years?” “Guys?” Obviously, the people weren’t too happy that while they were struggling to survive, they’re also been heavily taxed, so that the eunuch faction could all have rocking mansions, complete with swimming pools and Alexas. So finally, when a self-proclaimed Taoist wizard came along and was like, “You know whose fault it is that we’re all out here starving? It’s the Emperor and his posse! They’ve lost their mandate from heaven and the imperial family must be DESTROYED with an UNRELENTING, FURIOUS WRATH!!! Also check this out. Eh? Can you tell what it is yet? Tada! It’s a little kitty-cat!” “Look at her little ears!” The people loved his political philosophy. He promised them land reforms and his followers grew in number. They began arming themselves and wearing yellow turbans, and they also developed a really catchy slogan. In the year 184, the Yellow Turban rebellion broke out across China, with millions rising up against the Han dynasty and the imperial government in the capital city freaked out. With all their internal bickering, they were completely unprepared and unable to deal with such a huge rebellion. So they were forced to call in independent warlords from across the Empire to help them deal with this situation. Some big names took part in the fighting, I’m talking the likes of the great Cao Cao, the tyrannical Dong Zhuo, Liu Bei, Sun Jian, and many many other Chinese names I’m definitely not pronouncing correctly. These warlords crushed the rebellion in their own respective regions, and with casualties in the millions, the Han dynasty breathed a huge sigh of relief. But what they didn’t realize, is that by relying on all the warlords and their armies, they had essentially diminished their own central control over the empire and many of the warlords now held the power to act almost completely independently and rule over their own local regions themselves. Back in the capital, the Emperor and his son were having a little chat. “Listen, I know we’ve had our ups and downs, and I spent all of my time with your many, MANY smokin’ hot stepmoms instead of you. But what say you and I finally go on a little fishing trip together this weeke- Oh NO, I’m having a stroke-” (oof) and yet another child emperor was on the throne. This time, however, instead of the eunuch faction gaining even more power, this Child Emperor’s uncle became his regent, who also just so happened to be the head of the Imperial Army, He Jin. “Man, “Man, I hate those sneaky lying cheating eunuchs. Hey warlord, Yuan Shao. What should we do?” “Kill them all.” [Silence] “Right on.” “You can’t kill the eunuchs! They’re a vital part of this Empire’s governance! And also they paid me a lot of money to say that about them.” “Aw, c’mooon!” “No.” So He Jin and Yuan Shao decided the Empress may need more convincing, and so they called in an infamous, and so they called in an infamous, feared and so they called in an infamous, feared, tyrannical, overweight warlord from the Northwest to help convince her. That man, was Dong Zhuo. And he set out for the capital city with his army. “Hey guys, I heard a rumor that He Jin was planning on killing us.” “Then why don’t we kill him first!” And so it was. They lured him to the palace with a forged letter from his sister and when he got there, they lobbed off his head. [Slice sounds] [Silence] “Kill them all.” Imperial Forces stormed the palace and the eunuchs were all massacred. The peasants, who were still suffering from drought and starvation, saw what was going on and began to riot. The Emperor and his brother were forced to flee the city, which was now in flames. And the feared, nasty, tyrannical, bloated Dong Zhuo had just arrived. He found the Emperor and his brother wandering the hills outside of the city and was understandably confused, so he scooped up the Emperor, went to the capital and was like, “Hey guys, what’s up? I see the capital is on fire.” “Also, I’m here with my army and I have the Emperor with me.” “Waaaait a minute! The capital is on fire. I’m here with my army and I have the Emperor! Screw you guys! I’M IN CHARGE!” So now Dong Zhuo ruled over the Han dynasty as the Emperor’s Regent. His first act was to say to the Emperor, “Hey man, no hard feelings, but I like your little brother better. So I’m actually making him Emperor instead of you.” “So you’re free to go do whatever you want.” “Actually…” “Yeah, that feels better.” Dong Zhuo ruled with an iron fist. And he did whatever the flip he wanted. He made absolute decisions himself, showing no regard for the monarchy. He had his opponents or those who disagreed with him killed. He broke protocol, doing things like keeping his sword when approaching the Emperor, [Gasp sounds] wearing shoes in the court, [More gasp sounds] sleeping in the Emperor’s bed. And worst of all, he would walk in the presence of the Emperor. You were meant to TROT. The other warlords around the Empire hated him, and so they said, “Something needs to be done about this guy. What say we form a coalition and oust him?” And it was agreed. Warlords from across China, their armies amounting to a hundred thousand men, allied together against the tyranny of Dong Zhuo. Yuan Shao’s coalition consisted of some of the nation’s most capable leaders, including his half-brother Yuan Shu, the great Cao Cao and Sun Jian. But Dong Zhuo had an ace up his sleeve. His protégé, and adopted son, one of the most skilled and feared warriors in all of China. It’s Lu Bu! This guy was a beast of a man. He never lost a duel and no other warlord dared challenge him to one. He was also famous for betraying just about every warlord he ever fought for, something that Dong Zhuo didn’t seem too concerned about. The coalition attacked Dong Zhuo in Luoyang, and in particular, Sun Jian’s forces inflicted a heavy defeat against him, and he was forced to flee to the city of Chang’an. After this initial success, however, the war entered into a stalemate. The warlords in the coalition realized it was going nowhere, and also they all secretly hated each other, so they all went home. Dong Zhuo was safe. Until… Legend has it that a government official in Chang’an had a daughter who was hot. SUPER hot. He invited Lu Bu to his home and promised Lu Bu that someday he could marry his daughter. Then he invited Dong Zhuo to his house and did the exact same thing. Dong Zhuo was so smitten that he insisted on taking her as his concubine immediately, and when Lu Bu heard the news, he was pretty unhappy. “Hey man, aren’t you worried that you stole Lu Bu’s girl, and betrayal is like his personal hobby.” “Lu Bu? Betray me? No way, man. Never gonna happen-” Aw crap. Lu Bu, along with other government officials, assassinated the tyrannical Dong Zhuo. Then they left his body burning in the streets. Some sources say he was so fat and oily he kept on burning for days. Nice. So with Dong Zhuo dead, and the power of the Han government essentially decimated, China was left with a huge power gap, and a ton of warlords who all slept soundly at night dreaming of being the one to fill it. Here we enter into a crazy and chaotic period of civil war all across China, with so many people, so much betrayal, so much intricacy, it makes Game of Thrones look like a Dr. Seuss publication. But just to give you an idea of how crazy and chaotic it was, see if you’re able to keep up with this. Are you ready? Here we go. Here’s a rough map of the warlords throughout the Han dynasty at the time. Half-brothers Yuan Shao and Yuan Shu were both in a power struggle for who had become the figurehead of their family. Yuan Shu made alliances with warlords in the north, along with Sun Jian, the guy who defeated Dong Zhuo. Yuan Shao also made alliances, with Liu Biao in the south, and Cao Cao, who was an amazing strategist and general. All of these warlords began fighting each other, Cao Cao began building his own strength by subjugating nearby remnants of the Yellow Turban rebellion into his own forces. Down south, things weren’t going so well for Sin Jian, as he was killed in an ambush. So Sun’s son, Sun Ce, took over. Then, Yuan Shao got pushed back to the river Hwai. So he ordered Sun Ce to take the territory of warlord Liu Kang. Then, Sin Ce went off to capture territories in the east for himself. Cao Cao’s family lived in this province over here. One day, they were murdered. Oh no, Cao Cao held the province’s governor responsible, and so he launched a cruel invasion, in which he pillaged cities and murdered over a hundred thousand civilians. The governor sent out a call for help, and a very popular likeable warlord by the name of Liu Bei came to his aid. However, while Cao Cao was away fighting, a rebellion was staged against him in his home province, by none other than, it’s Lu Bu. Cao Cao rushed home and defeated Lu Bu, who fled to the east, which by now had been inherited by Liu Bei. Then Lu Bu, surprise surprise, launched a rebellion against Liu Bei, who fled to Cao Cao. Cao Cao and Liu Bei would go on to invade and defeat Lu Bu. Lu Bu offered to join Cao Cao and Cao Cao considered the offer, but his advisors were like, “No way, man This guy’s betrayed literally everyone he ever worked for.” And so, boo hoo, Lu Bu was executed. Next, Cao Cao convinced the Emperor to move in with him. Now he’s in control of the Han government, something that made his allies very jealous. Yuan Shu, out of nowhere, decides to declare himself emperor of the new Zhong dynasty. Nobody liked that. His allies cut ties with him, the Imperial Government ordered everyone to kill him, he tried to flee to his brother Yuan Shou, but died of illness on the way. Sun Ce took over his territory and then got assassinated, so his brother Sun Quan took over. Liu Bei turned on Cao Cao, but got obliterated and was forced to flee south Yuan Shao finally defeated the warlord to his north, and could now focus south. He declared war on his ally Cao Cao, but was defeated at the Battle of Guandu. Cao Cao has now united the north and he turned his attention to the south. In particular, Liu Biao’s province was becoming a powerful threat. So Cao Cao attacked him. Liu Bei was now fighting for Liu Biao and he held Cao Cao off for a while, but then Liu Biao died and his son took over and immediately surrendered to Cao Cao. Liu Bei was horrified, and he fled southward to try and maintain control of the province. Cao Cao was on an absolute roll, and it looked like he would be the one to take control of China. He began making plans to attack both Liu Bei and Sun Quan, and the two of them seeing where things were headed, met up and decided to form an alliance. Now I know that was a lot to take in, but all you really need to know at this point is that this guy is on his way to taking over everything, and he’s about to throw his full weight at the southern warlords. These two have one chance. One battle to prevent him from invading the south, and that battle was the famous Battle of Red Cliffs. To take the south, Cao Cao would need to control and cross the mighty Yangtze River. He had over two hundred thousand men to face against Liu Bei and Sun Quan’s combined force of 50,000. How would they stand a chance when they were so outnumbered? Legend says most of Sun Quan’s advisers pleaded with him to surrender, but then he smashed up a table and they all backed down. Luckily, Cao Cao’s forces were ravaged by disease and exhaustion, and his northern soldiers weren’t too comfortable on ships, So when Cao Cao sailed down the river and the two sides met for an initial skirmish at Wulin, Cao Cao was unable to inflict a defeat against the Allies. Then one of Sun Quan’s men came up with a very sneaky plan. He sent Cao Cao a letter, pretending that he and others wanted to defect to his side, and offered to bring him some of Lui Bei and Sun Quan’s finest ships. Little did Cao Cao know however, that those ships were full of flammable reeds. As they approached his fleet, they were set alight and destroyed his ships in camp. Seeing the situation as hopeless, Cao Cao ordered a difficult retreat through the rain and marshlands, during which more of his men fell to illness and disease. The underdogs had won, and Cao Cao would never again have another chance to take the south. Following that, the three warlords took some time to finish off some smaller competitors in their own regions and by the year 214, China looked a little bit like this. Cao Cao continued to try to penetrate the southern regions, but had no success, and even lost the Yangzhou region to Liu Bei in 217. The former allies eventually fell out over who should own this territory here, with Sun Quan coming out on top. In 220, Cao Cao died of a head disease and was replaced by his son, Cao Pi. Cao Pi convinced the Emperor of Han to abdicate and then proclaimed himself the Emperor of the new state of Wei. Liu Bei followed suit, declaring himself the true Emperor of Shu (Han), and a few years later Sun Quan joined in the fun and declared himself emperor of Wu, and so now you have a number of kingdoms in China. How many? Count them. One, Two, Three. Three kingdoms, except actually, they weren’t kingdoms. They were dynasties, and when the Three Kingdoms finally formed, not a whole lot happened. For the next three decades they continued to engage in combat, but it almost always ended in stalemate, and nobody really got anywhere. So how did it all end? Did Cao Cao’s descendants eventually realize his dream of unifying China? Not quite. Instead the Three Kingdoms became victims of the usual problems that plagued Chinese dynasties. In Wu, Sun Quan’s descendent became a tyrant, who is more interested in spending time with his concubines than governing. In Shu (Han), a powerful, corrupt eunuch faction rose up, and by now we all know how that ends. And in Wei, a string of young emperors gave way for a powerful family, the Sima clan to take control of the dynasty’s government. This Sima clan recognized the weak state Shu and Wu had been reduced to, and so they began making plans. “I’ve just received this letter that says Wei is planning to attack us. Should we make preparations for war?” “Nah. It’s probably nothing to worry about. Let’s do absolutely nothing.” “Sounds good to me.” Wei launched a full-scale invasion into Shu which fell within a year. Then Sima Yan forced the Wei Emperor to abdicate and proclaimed himself Emperor of the new Jin dynasty. In the year 279, Jin launched an invasion of Wu, and finally unified China in the year 280. The pattern of rising and falling dynasties, division and reunification, would continue in China for centuries to come. Right now you may be asking yourself, but wait a minute, What would have happened if Cao Cao had his way in unifying China or what if Lu Bu never assassinated Dong Zhuo and he continued to rule over the Han dynasty? What about if one of these smaller warlords had risen to the top? Think, what if I want to be a warlord during the downfall of the Han dynasty! Whoa, partner, calm down, because now you can. This video was brought to you by Total War: Three Kingdoms, a brand new strategy game that combines a gripping turn-based campaign of empire building, statecraft, and conquest with stunning real-time battles. Choose from a cast of legendary warlords and conquer the realm. Unite China under your rule. Forge the next great dynasty, and build a legacy that will last through the ages. Recruit heroic characters to aid your cause, and dominate your enemies on military, technological, political, and economic fronts. Will you build powerful friendships? Form brotherly alliances and earn the respect of your many foes? Or would you rather commit acts of treachery, inflate heart-wrenching betrayals and become a master of grand political intrigue? I bet you would. Your legend is yet to be written, but one thing is certain. Glorious conquest awaits. Buy the game on Steam, using my link in the description down below. It would also support my channel and my work massively. So, thank you. [Outro Music]
Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26EivpCPHnQ

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