In part two of this series examining the forgotten life of William Mesny, we hear the second half of his story in China. We’re mostly using author David Leffman’s 2016 book The Mercenary Mandarin: How a British adventurer became a general in Qing-dynasty China
Continue reading “CHP-178-William Mesny Part 2”
In this first part of a two-part series we examine the forgotten life of William Mesny. Drawing from author David Leffman’s 2016 book “The Mercenary Mandarin,” Laszlo discusses an unknown character from the bad old days of late Qing Dynasty China. Though he never made it to the history books, he nonetheless witnessed and took part in a lot of it. Through Mesny we can once again wander through some of Imperial China’s worst years.
Continue reading “CHP-177-William Mesny Part 1”
In this episode Laszlo explains a little about the “Gagi Nang”, the 自己人, known the world over as the Teochew (Chiu Chow or Chaozhou) people. Like the Hakka people, the Teochew’s were originally from the Yellow River Valley and migrated to their present location on the Guangdong coast via Fujian province. Their language and culture is unique. Their food and Chaozhou culture is celebrated in more places than Chaozhou and not just by the people from that region. There are Chaozhounese people on every continent except maybe Antarctica. They’re a proud group of people with a collective track record that is admirable by any standards of human achievement. The only mentions in this episode were of the Teochew’s of South East Asia and the US. There are plenty of other lesser known or unknown histories of Teochew’s in Canada, Europe, Mexico, Central and South America and of course Australia and New Zealand. The great 19th century Chinese diaspora is filled with stories, legends and historic events. The Chiu Chow people are a major part of everything that happened. They contributed not only to the society and the economy of their adoptive homelands, they still kept their ties with the eight districts of Chao-Shan.
In this 175th episode Laszlo gives the great Northern Song jack-of-all-literary-trades Su Dongpo the once over. This isn’t meant to be a deep dive into the reasons for all his renown in literature, calligraphy and painting. Instead, this is just a “popular Chinese historical” overview of who he was and the times he lived in. And for those who never heard of him, this is a good intro. In America we have Washington Irving, Mark Twain, Hemingway and so on. In China….Su Dongpo would be mentioned when rattling off their best of the best. He was definitely a major guy not only in the Song, but in the overall world of Chinese culture as well. Continue reading “CHP-175-Su Dongpo”
In this latest episode Laszlo finally gets around to the oft requested subject of piracy in early 19th century China. Pirates had been a fact of life going back to the most olden days. Mid to late Qing Dynasty the amount of trade being plied on the China coast attracted pirates like never before. Zheng Yi Sao (“Zheng Yi’s Wife”) was a tough woman from the Pearl River Delta who married the most notorious pirate of his day, Zheng Yi. Upon Zheng Yi’s death, his widow took control of his massive pirate fleet. With her adopted son, and later husband Cheung Po Tsai, she controlled what as, at the time, the largest pirate fleet that preyed on coastal dwellers and vessels engaged in trade. She later became an inspiration for many characters that appeared in books, movies, video games and other media.