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Program Details - Secrets of the Forbidden City 2008-05-10 18:30:00

This program is on BBC Two

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The BBC Synopsis of this program:

This is the astounding story of China's Forbidden City. Completed in 1421, its secrets are revealed in a new translation of the long neglected chronicles of the Ming Dynasty. This year's Olympic Games in China will showcase the capital of the world's greatest new superpower. But Beijing has hosted an Opening Ceremony once before. In 1421, the great Ming Emperor Yongle invited 300,000 dignitaries from across the known world to witness the inauguration of his fabulous palace, the Forbidden City. But it was marred by a mass murder so monstrous that it provoked the vengeance of the gods and saw the main halls of the immense palace burn to the ground.

This is the astounding story of the creation of this fabulous palace and the powerful and terrifying ruler at its heart. Forged from hundreds of thousands of timbers felled in the remote corners of his empire, and massive stones dragged across ice from the frozen north, Yongle marshalled a million workers to his vision. At 180 acres and with 9000 rooms, it remains the greatest palace on Earth.

For five centuries, what went on behind its blood red walls was forbidden to all but the intimate court of the Emperor. Now, the long neglected chronicles of the Ming Dynasty, many specially translated into English for the first time, will tell how the despotic emperor clawed his way to the top, betrayed his own family and killed all in his path to steal the throne. And how he constructed a gilded palace that was also a prison; stocked with concubines, policed by eunuchs and rife with greed and treachery. [S]



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