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Cao Xiu 曹休 and Cao Zhao 曹肇

Oct 29, 2015 © Ulrich Theobald

Cao Xiu 曹休 (d. 228 CE), courtesy name Wenlie 文烈, was a military leader of the early Three Kingdoms period 三國 (220-280).

He hailed from Qiao 譙 in the princedom of Pei 沛國 (modern Boxian 亳縣, Anhui) and was a relative of the warlord Cao Cao 曹操. When his father died, Cao Xiu was still very young. During the disturbances under the reign of Dong Zhuo 董卓, he fled to southeast China, and only returned, when Cao Cao rose against the tyrant. Cao Xiu served in the Tiger-and-Panther Guard (hubaoqi 虎豹騎) and fought at the side of Cao Hong against Wu Lan 吳蘭, a general of the warlord Liu Bei 劉備, and threw back the troops of Liu's supporter Zhang Fei 張飛.

After the conquest of the region of Hanzhong 漢中 by Cao Cao, Xiu was made capital commandant (zhonglingjun 中領軍). Emperor Wen 魏文帝 (r. 220-226), Cao Cao's son, promoted him to the post of general of the palace guard (lingjun jiangjun 領軍將軍) and gave him the title of neighbourhood marquis (tinghou 亭侯) of Dongyang 東陽. In the following years Cao Xiu rose through the highest echelons of the military officialdom (general suppressing the south, zhennan jiangjun 鎮南將軍, general conquering the east, zhengdong jiangjun 征東將軍) and was made regional inspector (cishi 刺史) of Yangzhou 揚州, and finally made neighbourhood marquis of Anyang 安陽.

During his campaign against the empire of Wu 吳 (222-280) in the southeast, Emperor Wen made Cao Xiu general-in-chief conquering the east (zhengdong da jiangjun 征東大將軍). He defeated Sun Quan's 孫權 general Lü Fan 呂範 at Dongpu 洞浦, and was thereupon appointed regional governor (mu 牧) of the province of Yangzhou. Emperor Ming 魏明帝 (r. 226-239 CE) granted him the title of Marquis (hou 侯) of Changping 長平. The title of commander-in-chief (da sima 大司馬) was granted to him after repeated successes against the army of Wu. His campaign against Wu in 228 failed, and Cao Xiu died shortly afterwards. His posthumous title is Marquis Zhuang 長平壯侯.

Zhang Shunhui 張舜徽, ed. (1992). Sanguozhi cidian 三國志辭典 (Jinan: Shandong jiaoyu chubanshe), 404.

Cao Zhao 曹肇, courtesy name Changsi 長思, was a military commander of the early Three Kingdoms period, and a son of Cao Xiu. He served under Emperor Ming as cavalier attendant-in-ordinary (sanji changshi 散騎常侍) and commandant of the garrison cavalry (tunji xiaowei 屯騎校尉). He was posthumously conferred the title of general of the guards (wei jiangjun 衛將軍).

Zhang Shunhui 張舜徽, ed. (1992). Sanguozhi cidian 三國志辭典 (Jinan: Shandong jiaoyu chubanshe), 409.