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The Battle of Red Cliffs: The History and Legacy of the Decisive Battle Fought Near the Start of Ancient China's Three Kingdoms Period
Charles River Editors
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1 hour 22 minutes
At the forefront of the Three Kingdoms was one of ancient China’s most famous battles, fought in late 208 CE. An area of the Yangtze River located near modern Chibi City in the central Chinese province of Hubei was filled with ships as far as the eye could see. They were swift wooden vessels, built for speed and filled with hard faced men, arrows strung on their backs, ready to be released on the enemy. Massive warships with imposing war towers piled high with soldiers were also anchored in the river.
These military ships were part of the mightiest naval invasion ever seen in China, but on the ships, the sailors were weary. Contrary to their imposing facade, these men were unfamiliar with the trials of river combat – they were northerners, more familiar with the frigid weather and the flat plains of northern China than being marooned on wooden ships in the water. Some of the men were ill, seasick from the prolonged exposure to life on the water. To combat this, Cao Cao, the supreme warlord of the northern Wei Kingdom and leader of the fleet, had ordered his men to tie their ships together to limit the swaying and to alleviate the sea sickness. It seemed to help, ironically, this seemingly simple solution would also spell doom for the invaders.
The ensuing Battle of Red Cliffs changed Chinese history. It marked the end of the Han Dynasty, one of the greatest in China’s history, and pushed China into the era of the Three Kingdoms, an era of perpetual warfare and chaos. Furthermore, the battle also had a dramatic effect on Chinese culture, media, and literature, and the battle and its major participants remain legendary in China. Even today, movies, videogames, and comic books about this battle can be found in China, from the blockbuster film Red Cliff in 2009 to the video game series Dynasty Warriors. Clearly, the ramifications of this period of Chinese history can still be felt nearly 2,000 years later.
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The Battle of Red Cliffs: The His...
Charles River Editors
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