I can't remember whether it was 1421 or When China Ruled the Seas (or even if it was one of those), but the subject of Chinese naval dominance around that time piqued my interest.
Now, not wanting to blow my own trumpet too loud, I was surprised that this information hadn't crossed my path before now, that I was unaware that the Chinese built massive vessels and sailed happily (and unhappily) around the globe, and in fact provided early European explorers with maps from time to time. Needless to say, I was very happy to investigate the Ming dynasty a little further, during which Zheng He enjoyed a fruitful career as (surely?) one of history's only seafaring Muslim eunuchs.
Anyway, despite wanting to read more about this, the whole point of this post was to direct you to a great little history site I found while I was digging around about Chinese history in the 1400s. Actually it's pretty big.
Thanks to Mr. F. Smitha (a self-motivated historian who has collated the history of the world in what appears to be a very informative labour of love), I now know that Ye Olde China was quite the sand through the hourglass.
This was Queen Hu. She struck against all who displeased her. She executed lovers who had displeased her. She forced a rival into a convent and had her executed, and in 528 she executed her son, who had been growing restless under the tutelage of her lovers. Outraged officials rebelled. Queen Hu cut her hair and sought refuge in a Buddhist nunnery, but the officials dragged her out and murdered her.
No wonder the ship builders were so good.