Beware The Dancing Girls!

The Tuyuhun were a nomadic people who created a powerful kingdom in the northern part of the Himalayan plateau. The Tuyuhun were unsurprisingly interested in their rich neighbor to the east, and invaded the Tang Dynasty in 623 CE. The Tuyuhun regularly raided Chinese settlements along the western Tang frontier. This was just another of a long line of incursions by nomads into China. So in 623, the Tuyuhun departed from their homeland, and invaded Gansu, in northwest China. The Tang general Chai Shao was dispatched to defeat them. The problem for him was the Tuyuhun army controlled the high ground, having arrived at a strong position and refused to abandon it. Their archers easily held off any approach by the Tang army, so why should they move? All pretty standard so far.

Chai Shao was an unorthodox man, though, and he thought of an unorthodox solution: erotic dancers. He sent two dancing girls and a group of musicians to a small hill near the Tuyuhun camp. The girls performed an erotic dance, accompanied by the musicians, just where they could be seen by the Tuyuhun army. Discipline fell apart completely as soldiers rushed to get a better view of the dancing.

Meanwhile, Chai Shao and the Tang cavalry snuck around behind the Tuyuhun, while everyone was distracted by the ladies. When they attacked, the Tuyuhun were completely defeated: they lost over 500 men, and were forced to retreat out of Gansu. Hostilities continued, but now the Tang were attacking the Tuyuhun, instead of fending off invasions.

A banquet of song and dance. Besides showing typical Iranian instruments and clothing in the early modern era, the painting shows what the inside of Hasht Behesht Palace look like. Built in 1669, the royal palace's name means "Eight Paradises."

The painting comes from Isfahan, late Safavid Dynasty or potentially early Zand Dynasty. Artist unknown.

It takes about 5,000 years (give or take) for photons to escape the sun’s core. Once they are out, though, it takes just 8.3 minutes for them to reach Earth. The sunlight we see is thousands of years old!

In their September edition in 1896, National Geographic magazine published this photograph with the caption "The Recent Earthquake Wave on the Coast of Japan." A tsunami had hit on the evening of June 15, 1896. Unfortunately, it was both dark and raining that evening, so few people were outside to see the water recede and warn the villages. National Geographic reported that "A few survivors, who saw it advancing in the darkness, report its height as 80 to 100 feet."

When Vietnam pronounced its "Declaration of Independence" from France in 1945, they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in its first line. And France's own Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, in its third line. Rather ironic.


"Fear the goat from the front, the horse from the rear, and the man from all sides."

Russian proverb

The Short-Lived Republic of Formosa

In the aftermath of the First Sino-Japanese War and the Treaty of Shimonoseki, Japan had been given control over Taiwan by the Chinese. Without asking the Taiwanese. They were understandably not happy with being handed over to a foreign country. So, in May 1895, Taiwan declared its independence from Japan, calling their new country the Republic of Formosa. Japan wanted their first colony, and they were prepared to fight for it. Plus, Japan had been modernizing and had this modern, big army with modern, big weapons. And they knew little Formosa had neither. The invasion was on!

Messages were sent out, pleading for international recognition and support. (France did send a battleship and some officers to talk with the republic’s leaders.) However, the international support never came and the Formosans were soundly defeated by the Japanese military in a matter of months, most of it by June the same year. The Republic of Formosa lasted from May 23, 1895 to October 21, 1895. Taiwan remained a Japanese colony until 1945.

Previously, Russia had a total of 11 time zones. In 2010, the government opted to drop the number to 9 time zones, which is still more than any other country in the world.

What’s A King To A Caesar?

From 27 BCE to 1946 CE, someone, somewhere in Europe has had a title “Caesar.” The czar of Russia, the kaiser of Germany...many, many European titles were just local derivatives of “Caesar.”

The last Caesar was Tsar Simeon II of Bulgaria, who was removed from office in 1946 by the Soviets. He’s still alive, too!

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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