Three Kingdoms - OverSimplified

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17:23   |   Apr 11, 2019


Three Kingdoms - OverSimplified
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  • This video was made possible by Total War: Three Kingdoms.
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  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
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  • It would also support my channel and my work massively. So, thank you.
  • [Outro Music]

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