Encyclopedia: Cao Cao

Cao Cao (Mengde); Ts‘ao Ts‘ao (Mêng-tê); 曹操 (孟德)

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You are viewing the profile of Cao Cao (曹操), styled Mengde (孟德), born in Qiao County, Pei Commandery (Presently Bozhou city, Anhui Province). “Founder of Wei. Built the foundation of what would become the Jin dynasty.” Cao Cao was affiliated with the Han Dynasty and the Wei Kingdom. Return to the Three Kingdoms Encyclopedia to learn more or explore our Encyclopedia Directory to browse by kingdom or category.


Cao Cao (Mengde) 曹操 (孟德)

Lived: AD 155–220


Served: Han, Wei

Founder of Wei. Built the foundation of what would become the Jin dynasty.

Officer Details

Wade-Giles: Ts‘ao Ts‘ao (Mêng-tê)
Simplified Chinese: 曹操 (孟德)
Pronunciation: Cao2 Cao1 (Meng4de2Pronunciation
Cantonese (Yale): Chou Chou (Maang-dak)
Cantonese (Jyutpin): Cou Cou (Maang-dak)
Min-Nan: Co Coh (Beng-tek)

Birthplace: Qiao County, Pei Commandery
(Presently Bozhou city, Anhui Province)

Other Names: Grand Progenitor (太祖; posthumous title), Martial Emperor (武帝; posthumous title), A-man (阿瞞; child name), Cao Man (曹瞞; insult), General Cao (曹將)

Name Notes: In [i]Sanguozhi[/i] Chen Shou references him with the honorary title, Wu Di (武帝), or ‘Martial Emperor’. Cao Cao appears in other sources under this name. Cao Cao’s infant name was A-Man (阿瞞).

Rank and Titles

Northern Commandant of Luoyang; Prefect of Dunqiu; Gentleman-consultant of the Imperial Court; Chief Commandant of Cavalry; Chancellor of Jinan; Grand Administrator of Dongjun; Colonel in Charge of the Army; Colonel of the Resolute Cavalry; General Who Displays Firmness; Grand Administrator of Dongjun; Governor of Yanzhou; General Who Establishes Virtue; General Who Guards the East; Marquis of Feiting; Intendant of the Affairs of the Masters of Writing; Colonel Director of Retainers; General-in-chief; Marquis of Wuping; Minister of Works; General of Chariots and Cavalry; Lieutenant-Chancellor; Duke of Wei; King of Wei; The Man

Family and Relationships

Cao Jie (Great Grandfather); Cao Teng (Grandfather); Cao Song (Father); Cao De (Brother); Lü Boshe ƒ (Uncle); Empress Bian, Lady Liu, Lady Ding (Wives); Cao Pi, Cao Zhang, Cao Zhi, Cao Xiong (Sons with Empress Bian); Cao Ang, Cao Shuo (Sons with Lady Liu); Cao Chong, Cao Ju, Cao Yu (Sons with Lady Huan); Cao Lin, Cao Gun (Sons with Lady Du); Cao Xuan, Cao Jun (Sons with Lady Qin); Cao Ju (Sons from Lady Yin); Cao Gan, Cao Shan, Cao Biao, Cao Qin, Cao Cheng, Cao Zheng, Cao Jing, Cao Jun, Cao Ji, Cao Hui, Cao Mao (Sons with Other Consorts); Cao Ren, Cao Chun, Cao Hong (Younger Cousins); Cao Anmin (Nephew); Cao Xiu, Cao Zhen (Distant Nephews); Shadow Runner (Horse)

Fact vs. Fiction

Differences Between Fact and Common Fiction

  • Never presented Dong Zhuo the “Seven-Star Sword.”
  • Wen Chou was killed in one of Cao Cao’s military plots.
  • There is no historic mention of Cao Cao killing civilians as he marched on Tao Qian, however the massacre he left in departure is recorded.
  • Cao Cao did not execute He Yi. [ZZTJ: 62]
  • Became Prime Minister on the 6th month of Jian’an (AD 208). Not earlier as presented in the novel.
  • Was not tricked by Pang Tong into tying his ships at Chibi. He did this himself because his soldiers were sick.
  • Did not execute Zuo Ci, nor did Zuo Ci predict his death.
  • Had 25 sons; far from the five mentioned in the novel.

Literary Appearances

Romance of the Three Kingdoms: 16, 1077, 78, 7982, 85, 88, 91, 93, 94, 96, 97, 99, 106, 109, 111, 114, 119, 120

Sanguozhi: Shu 1-8, Wei 1, Wei 2-30

Popular Quotation

Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Chapter 4
Cao Cao: “Better that I betray the world than let the world betray me.”

Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Chapter 59
Fighting Ma Chao, Cao Cao: “You despised me because I had no wall to my camp, but lo! in one single night, God has made me a wall. Do you not think it time to give in?”

Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Chapter 72
Cao Cao: “I like to kill people in my dreams, so when I fall asleep be sure not to come too close.”

Search Results

Cao Cao (2013 TV Series)
Date: 11/13     Replies: 49
Cao Cao’s Top 5 Generals Poll
Date: 04/12     Replies: 69
Sun Quan, Cao Cao, or Liu Bei?
Date: 05/11     Replies: 35
Why Didn’t Cao Cao Learn from Guan Du?
Date: 04/11     Replies: 36
Cao Cao Favorable Editions of Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Date: 07/10     Replies: 58
Cao Cao’s Tomb is Found!
Date: 12/09     Replies: 91
Did Cao Cao Have the Strength to Defeat a United Yuan Front?
Date: 11/09     Replies: 26
Cao Cao’s Successor
Date: 06/09     Replies: 47
Cao Cao Trust Worthy?
Date: 04/08     Replies: 51
Who’s Better Sun Jian or Cao Cao?
Date: 02/08     Replies: 37
Cao Cao Unites China
Date: 01/08     Replies: 43
Zhuge Liang and Cao Cao?
Date: 12/07     Replies: 61
View ≈47 Additional Results?


New Biography of Cao Cao
Date: 08/10     Replies: 52
SGZ Biography of Cao Cao
Date: 03/05     Replies: 56

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Source Undefined

Cao Cao, styled Mengde, was from Qiao county, Peiguo commandery. He was a son of Cao Song. Cao Song was adopted by the eunuch Cao Teng, something the enemies of Cao Cao were keen on pointing out.



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September 22, 2023