Cao Wei

cao wei (220 CE - 265 CE) was one of the states that competed for control of China during the three kingdoms period. With the capital at Luoyang, the state was established by Cao Pi in 220, based upon the foundations that his father Cao Cao laid. Its name came from 213, when Cao Cao's feudal holdings were given the name Wei; historians often add the prefix Cao (曹, from Cao Cao's family name) to distinguish it from the other states in Chinese history also known as Wei, such as the earlier Wei state during the warring states period, and the later northern wei state.

In 220, when Cao Pi deposed the last emperor of the eastern han dynasty, Wei became the name of the new dynasty he founded, which was seized and controlled by the Sima family in 249, until it was overthrown and became part of the jin dynasty in 265.


During the decline of the han dynasty, the northern part of China was under the control of Cao Cao, the chancellor to the last Han ruler, Emperor Xian. In 213, Cao Cao was granted the title of "Duke of Wei" and given ten cities as his domain. This area was named "Wei". At that time, the southern part of China was already divided into two areas controlled by two warlords. In 216, Cao Cao was promoted to "King of Wei".

On March 15, 220, Cao Cao died and his son Cao Pi inherited the title of "King of Wei". Later that year on December 11, Cao Pi forced Emperor Xian to abdicate and took over the throne, founding the Wei Dynasty. However, Liu Bei of Shu Han immediately contested Cao Pi's claim to the Han throne, and Sun Quan of Eastern Wu followed suit in 222.

Cao Pi ruled for six years until his death in 226. He was succeeded by his son Cao Rui, who died in 239, and was in turn succeeded by Cao Fang. In 249, during Cao Fang's reign, the regent Sima Yi seized state power from his co-regent Cao Shuang in a coup known as the Incident at Gaoping Tombs. This event marked the collapse of imperial authority in Wei, as Cao Fang's role had been reduced to a puppet ruler while Sima Yi wielded state power firmly in his hands. Sima Yi died in 251 and passed on his authority to his oldest son Sima Shi, who continued ruling as regent. Sima Shi deposed Cao Fang in 254 and replaced him with Cao Mao. After Sima Shi died in the following year, his younger brother Sima Zhao inherited his power and status as regent. In 260, Cao Mao attempted to seize back state power from Sima Zhao in a coup, but was killed by Sima's subordinate Cheng Ji (成濟).

After Cao Mao's death, Cao Huan was enthroned as the fifth ruler of Wei. However, Cao Huan was also a figurehead under Sima Zhao's control much like his predecessor. In 263, Wei armies led by Zhong Hui and Deng Ai conquered Shu. Two years later, Sima Zhao's son Sima Yan forced Cao Huan to abdicate in his favour, replacing Wei with the jin dynasty.

As Gogeryeo consolidated its power, it proceeded to act to conquer the territories on the Korean peninsula which were under Chinese rule. Goguryeo initiated the Goguryeo–Wei Wars in 242, trying to cut off Chinese access to its territories in Korea by attempting to take a Chinese fort. However, the Chinese Wei state responded by invading and defeated Goguryeo. Hwando was detroyed in revenge by the Chinese Wei forces in 244.


Sometime between the late eastern han dynasty and the cao wei Dynasty, kaishu, a style of Chinese calligraphy, appeared, with its first known master being Zhong Yao, who also served as a politician in Wei.

Ruling Family

According to the Wei Shu and Tung Pa, the Cao family of cao wei were descended from Huangdi via Emperor Zhuanxu, from which the Cao family originated. They were of the same liniage as to Emperor Shun. Another account says that the Cao family was descended from Emperor Shun. This account was attacked by Chiang Chi who claimed it was people of the Tian 田 surname who were descended from Shun and not the Cao. He also claimed (Gui) Kuei 媯 was Shun's family name.

cao wei or Kingdom of Wei 220-265 AD

Posthumous names

first names


Era names and their range of years

Emperor Wen of Wei

Cao Pi


Huangchu 220-226

Emperor Ming of Wei

Cao Rui


Taihe 227-233
Qinglong 233-237
Jingchu 237-239

Shao or Prince of Qi of Wei

Cao Fang


Zhengshi 240-249
Jiaping 249-254

Duke of Gaoguixiang of Wei

Cao Mao


Zhengyuan 254-256
Ganlu 256-260

Emperor Yuan of Wei

Cao Huan


Jingyuan 260-264
Xianxi 264-265

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