Cao Pi Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

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Cao Pi Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby capnnerefir » Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:10 pm

Cao Pi (Zihuan) (187-226)

Cao Pi was born into an unhappy time. He himself best describes the circumstances of his childhood: “Those from east of the mountains – the powerful controlling provinces and states, the mediocre holding cities and towns, and the smaller groups gathering in the countryside – returned to their respective places and at once fought to take over each other. At the same time, the Yellow Turbans flourished near the Ocean and the Dai Mountains, and bandits rampaged in Bing and Ji provinces. Having scored a few victories, they rolled through southwards, attacking everywhere in sight. Whole villages would flee at the sight of smoke, and cities collapse when dust is spotted. Commoners from all families were killed, their exposed bones covering the land like weed. At that time I was five years old.”[1]

In order to help his son survive in this chaotic and dangerous world, Cao Cao began teaching Cao Pi how to shoot a bow when he was only five years old. In spite of his age, Cao Pi showed immense focus and talent. He became a competent marksman by the age of six. Cao Cao also taught his son how to ride a horse, and by the age of eight Cao Pi could shoot from horseback with accuracy. His archery skills became quite famous throughout Cao Cao’s army. Cao Pi had the remarkable ability to shoot a bow accurately with either hand, even when riding on a galloping horse.[2]

Cao Pi was also an excellent swordsman. He studied under a man named Shi E, who was one of the Gentlemen of the Household Rapid as Tigers [huben zhonglang],[3] who was famed for his abilities. Cao Pi studied further under the famous weaponmaster Yuan Min. In addition to his skills with a sword, Cao Pi was also able to use two weapons at once with equal proficiency.[4]

Cao Pi also possessed considerable scholarly talent. He was known for having an exceptional memory as well as being very widely-read and well educated. Cao Pi was also recognized as an extremely talented poet, with the historian Chen Shou remarking, “…To compose, he had only to apply his writing brush.”[5] Cao Pi was also responsible for writing a work known as the “Standards for Literature” [dianlun], one of the earliest works of literary criticism.[6] Aside from these literary accomplishments, Cao Pi also claimed to have memorized the Book of Odes and Confucius’s Analects, and that he was well-versed in the Five Classics, Four Collections, the Records of the Grand Historian, and the History of the Han.[7] Like his father and brother Zhi, Cao Pi was also a talented poet.[8] He was also an extremely skillful player of the “chess-shooting game”, though what exactly this game was is lost to time.[9]

As an odd note, Cao Pi also had an interest in the mystical and occult. He was a practitioner of the Daoist “bedroom arts”,[10] which were believed to grant longevity and even immortality, among other benefits.[11] He highly valued the mystic of physiognomy,[12] paid great attention to signs and omens,[13]and gave credence to certain ancient prophecies. Following these prophecies, he changed the name of his capital city from Xu to Xuchang in 221.[14] Given that a rebel called Xu Sheng had used this same prophecy to justify a rebellion against the Han in 172,[15] this particular prophecy was probably suppressed during Cao Pi’s lifetime, and it may have taken a significant bit of study to unearth it. Cao Pi is also credited as the author of two ancient books of ghost stories. The first is the “Ghost Stories of Cao Pi” [Cao Pi Zhiguai ][16], while the other is the “Records of the Extraordinary” [Lieyi Zhuan], though the authorship of the latter work is debated.[17]

Due to the dangers of the time, Cao Cao often brought his young son along on his various military campaigns. This nearly cost Cao Pi his life when he was 10 years old. In 197, Cao Cao led his army to Jing province, where he received the surrender of the warlord Zhang Xiu. However, Zhang Xiu’s intentions were false and he suddenly attacked Cao Cao’s camp in the night. Cao Pi fled on horseback and barely escaped.[18] Others were not so lucky. Cao Cao’s general Dian Wei died attempting to hold back Zhang Xiu’s army almost single-handedly[19] Cao Pi’s older brother, Cao Ang, was also killed along with cousin, Cao Anmin.[20]

On September 13 of 204, Cao Cao captured the city of Ye in Ji province.[21] Not long afterwards, he made the city his personal base and moved his family there. Upon his arrival in Ye, Cao Pi met Lady Zhen, the estranged wife of Yuan Xi, and the two married soon afterwards.[22] Their son Cao Rui was born the next year[23], and Lady Zhen also gave birth to a daughter, the Princess of Dongxiang.

In the first month of 208, the Minister Over the Masses [situ] Zhao Wen recommended Cao Pi as an abundant talent [moucai], a recommendation that would have permitted him to serve in government offices. However, Cao Cao viewed this as Zhao Wen attempting to curry favor with him by praising his son. As a result, he no longer trusted Zhao Wen’s judgment and dismissed him from his position. Naturally, Cao Pi subsequently refused this nomination and did not take any office.[24] In spite of this, Cao Cao left Cao Pi in charge of defending Ye when he went to lead a campaign for Jing province that year.[25]

Later that year, Cao Cao attempted to grant heavy rewards to a man named Tian Chou, who had greatly aided Cao Cao in his conquest of the Wuhuan. Tian Chou repeatedly declined these rewards. Cao Pi, along with Xun Yu and Zhong Yao, urged Cao Cao to desist in these attempts to reward him. Cao Cao was reluctant to agree, but he was eventually persuaded by his advisers.[26]

In 211, Cao Cao led a campaign against a large group of rebels in the northwest. In preparation for this, he named Cao Pi as the General of the Gentlemen of the Household for All Purposes [wuguan zhonglang jiang][27] and once again tasked him with defending Ye.[28] Two men named Tian Yin and Su Bo took advantage of Cao Cao’s absence to start a small rebellion in You and Ji provinces. Cao Pi wanted to lead soldiers against them personally but was persuaded it was better to send a subordinate general to take care of the matter while he oversaw the administration in Ye. Cao Pi’s general Jia Xin quickly subdued the rebels but was uncertain what to do with several thousand people who surrendered. Most of Cao Pi’s advisers cited Cao Cao’s long-standing rules and urged him to execute them, but Cheng Yu argued that he should wait for instructions from his father. Cao Pi accepted Cheng Yu’s advice and spared their lives. When Cao Cao returned from his campaign in 212, he was very pleased with how Cao Pi handled the situation.[29]

For several years, a debate went on in Cao Cao’s court regarding which of his sons should be his heir. Cao Pi’s younger brother, Zhi, was a talented scholar and a skilled poet who was greatly favored by Cao Cao. A small cabal of scholars - including Ding Yi, Ding I, and Yang Xiu – supported the notion that Cao Zhi should be Cao Cao’s heir. Ding Yi, in particular, had a grudge against Cao Pi, who had objected to Ding Yi marrying one of his sisters. [30] Cao Cao asked various ministers their opinion on the matter, and nearly all of them supported Cao Pi on the grounds that he was the eldest of Cao Cao’s living sons and very talented. Cui Yan, noted for his great skill at finding men of talent, praised Cao Pi as loving, intelligent, filial, and wise.[31] Mao Jie, another noted talent-scout, also praised Cao Pi and even went so far as to say that suggesting another candidate was simply inappropriate.[32] Cao Cao also consulted the great tactician Jia Xu on the subject. Though one of Cao Pi’s personal supporters, Jia Xu evaded the question and instead simply reminded Cao Cao of what happened to Yuan Shao and Liu Biao, whose sates collapsed due to succession disputes.[33]

Still, Cao Pi worried that his brother would usurp his place and asked Jia Xu what he should do to secure his position. Jia Xu instructed Cao Pi to act humbly, cultivate virtuous conduct, be diligent in all of his tasks, and behave as a proper son. [34] Cao Pi followed Jia Xu’s advice to the letter and, on one occasion, even went so far as to openly weep when seeing his father off before a campaign.[35] The palace servants also favored Cao Pi over Cao Zhi. Cao Zhi was impulsive, flighty, and prone to drunkenness, while Cao Pi possessed masterful self-control and rigid discipline.[36]

In 217, Cao Cao put the matter to rest once and for all by declaring Cao Pi his heir.[37]

Throughout 219, Cao Cao was away from Ye, leading campaigns in Hanzhong and Jing. An official named Wei Feng took this opportunity to plan a coup d’état. He plotted with others in Ye to take control of the city. One of his conspirators was Chen Yi, who was in charge of guarding the palace where Queen Bian[38] lived. However, Chen Yi lost his nerve and confessed his plans. Cao Pi took quick action and executed Wei Feng, along with several thousand others who were implicated in the conspiracy.[39]

Cao Cao passed away in Luoyang on March 15 of 220.[40] When the news Ye, Cao Pi was devastated and wept ceaselessly. At first, he was unwilling to perform any of the necessary state duties. However, Sima Fu spoke firmly to him. Cao Pi took resolve from Sima Fu’s words and prepared himself to take over the government.[41] Some of the officials in Ye thought that Cao Pi should wait for confirmation from the emperor before taking Cao Cao’s place as King of Wei, but Chen Jiao argued that what the government needed was stability, and that a delay in succession could only cause problems. Following Chen Jiao’s advice, Cao Pi named himself King of Wei.[42] Shortly after this the Han emperor confirmed Cao Pi as King of Wei, as well as Chancellor [chengxiang] and Governor [mu] of Ji province – all of these were titles held by Cao Cao.[43]

One of Cao Pi’s first acts was to reinstate the positions of the Three Excellencies, which had been abolished by Cao Cao in 210. He named Jia Xu as Grand Commandant [taiwei], Hua Xin as Minister over the Masses [situ], and Wang Lang as Minister of Works [sikong].[44]

Though Cao Zhi was not made Cao Cao’s heir, he was enfeoffed as the Marquis of Linzi. Because of Cao Zhi’s past drunkenness and poor conduct, Cao Pi demoted him to be Marquis of Anxiang.[45]

Cao Pi quickly instated certain governmental reforms upon taking control of the Han court. The most radical of these was a new recruitment system devised by Chen Qun to replace the Han system that had collapsed during the civil war of the 190s.[46]

In the seventh month of 220, Sun Quan sent tribute to Cao Pi’s court, confirming that he recognized Cao Pi as Cao Cao’s heir and the new King of Wei.[47]

Around that same time, Liu Bei’s general Meng Da defected to Cao Pi due to a personal conflict between himself and Liu Bei’s son, Liu Feng. Cao Pi treated Meng Da very well, granting him a minor enfeoffment and naming him as the Grand Administrator [taishou] of the newly-formed Xincheng commandery, which comprised the territories that Meng Da had just fled.[48] Cao Pi’s adviser Liu Ye warned him that Meng Da was untrustworthy, but Cao Pi ignored this advice.[49] He ordered Meng Da to capture Xincheng with help from Xu Huang and Xiahou Shang. Though Liu Feng was prepared to resist them, the Grand Administrator of Shangyong, Shen Dan, surrendered when Meng Da’s army approached. Liu Feng was forced to flee the area and the commandery came under Cao Pi’s control.[50] On the heels of this victory, the Di king Yangpu also surrendered to Cao Pi.[51]

In the tenth month of 220 (November), various ministers proposed that Cao Pi replace Liu Xie as the emperor, citing various astrological signs.[52] On November 25, Liu Xie performed various ceremonies in preparation for abdicating the throne.[53] On December 11, Liu Xie formally abdicated the throne and Cao Pi ascended as the new emperor.[54] Cao Pi subsequently enfeoffed Liu Xie as the Duke of Shanyang and permitted him to use the various ceremonies appropriate for a Han emperor. He also posthumously enfeoffed his father and grandfather as emperors.[55] Cao Pi considered granting similar honors to his mother’s side of the family but was dissuaded from this by Chen Qun. Cao Pi went so far as to decree that such a practice would never be followed.[56] However, Cao Rui violated this decree in 230 and granted various enfeoffments through his grandmother’s line.[57]

Around the sixth month of 221, Cao Pi’s wife died.[58] The sanguozhi claims that Cao Pi ordered her to commit suicide because she was jealous of the attention he showed to his concubines[59] while the History of Wei [weishu] states that she died of illness.[60]

Sometime in 221, Cao Pi executed Ding Yi and all of the male members of his family.[61] While Cao Pi is often criticized for executing Ding Yi and his family, this criticism neglects certain important factors. There was long-standing enmity between the two of them after Cao Pi blocked Ding Yi’s attempt to marry one of his sisters, and afterwards Ding Yi became one of Cao Zhi’s partisans.[62] Of greater concern is the fact that he was involved in slandering and dismissal of Mao Jie and Xu Yi, and likely the death of Cui Yan.

Years ago, an official named Yang Xun wrote an essay praising Cao Cao, but it was heavily criticized. Cui Yan wrote a letter to Yang Xun saying, “I have examined your memorial and it is excellent. It is just a matter of time, time! Soon there will be changes."[63] However, the word Cui Yan used for “changes” also had the meaning of “rebellion.”[64] Cui Yan’s intent, of course, was to say that in time, people would come to praise Yang Xun’s writing. However, Cui Yan’s enemies claimed that he was plotting treason. He was arrested and sentenced to hard labor. His enemies continued to slander him and ultimately, he was executed.[65] Mao Jie constantly spoke out in Cui Yan’s defense. Ding Yi claimed that he was also plotting treason with Cui Yan. So Mao Jie was arrested and imprisoned.[66] Eventually, Mao Jie was released from prison, but he was dismissed from his position and died a broken man.[67] Ding Yi was also responsible for slandering an official named Xu Yi, securing his dismissal as well.[68]

It is worth noting that Cui Yan and Mao Jie were two of Cao Pi’s most outspoken supporters. Ding Yi was definitively involved in Mao Jie’s case as one of his accusers. Given the circumstances, he was almost certainly one of those who slandered Cui Yan and caused his execution.

Also in this year, Cao Pi advanced the enfeoffment of many of his brothers, honoring them as dukes [gong] instead of simply marquis [hou]. It is of passing interest that Cao Zhi, due to his poor conduct and past iniquities, remained a marquis.[69]

At some other point, likely in this year, an official named Dai Ling criticized how often Cao Pi went out hunting. Cao Pi was not content to accept such personal criticism and gave Dai Ling a harsh sentence, claiming that he was slandering the Emperor.[70]

In the eighth month of 221, Sun Quan sent ambassadors to Wei declaring himself a subject of Cao Pi’s state. Cao Pi was greatly pleased, but his adviser Liu Ye warned him that Sun Quan was only stalling for time. At the moment, Sun Quan was being attacked by Liu Bei, who had just recently falsely declared himself Emperor of Han. Sun Quan was thus placating Cao Pi while he dealt with Liu Bei so that he would not have to worry about being attacked on two fronts. Liu Ye urged Cao Pi to attack Sun Quan rather than accept his surrender. However, Cao Pi thought that attacking people who had surrendered to him set a bad precedent and would discourage other rebels from surrendering.[71] Instead, he rewarded Sun Quan by naming him King of Wu.[72]

Later that year, the Hu tribes revolted again in Liang province. They were led by a woman called Zhiyuanduo. Cao Pi sent a talented general named Zhang Ji to subdue the rebellion. Zhang Ji proved to be an excellent choice for the task and subjugated the Hu tribes without great difficulty.[73] On the heels of Zhiyuanduo’s revolt, an official named Ju Guang rebelled in the region, but Zhang Ji dealt with that with even greater ease.[74]

Early in 222, Cao Pi received envoys from the states of Shanshan, Kucha, and Khotan, bringing him tribute and recognizing him as the Emperor of China.[75] These were three small kingdoms that had existed as Chinese dependant states in the west since Han times.

In the third month of 222, Cao Pi enfeoffed his eldest son, Cao Rui, as the Prince of Pingyuan. He also increased the titles of his brothers from dukes to princes.[76] Initially, Cao Zhi was left as a marquis, though he was also promoted to be a prince in the fourth month.[77] Cao Pi treated his brothers very strictly. They were all enfeoffed in lands distant from the capital, and they were given no power over their fiefdoms. Cao Pi also sent men to watch over them and report on any wrongdoing they committed.[78]

This treatment of Imperial relatives was perfectly in keeping with longstanding Han traditions. Under the Han rule, a prince had no political power, nor any control over the affairs of his fiefdom. Furthermore, Imperial princes were typically required to live within their fiefs and were only permitted to come to the capital when especially summoned.[79] And Cao Pi had a few reasons to be suspicious of his siblings. Cao Zhi had been a rival to him in past years, and there was some suspicion that Cao Zhang coveted his position as well.[80] Years later, in 251, Cao Pi’s brother Cao Biao plotted to depose Cao Fang and make himself emperor.[81]

In the fifth month of 222, Cao Pi conducted a slight administrative rearrangement. Jing province had been split between Wei and other powers since 208. Cao Pi designated the territory north of the Jiang river as Ying province while the lower half of the area remained Jing.[82] Later that year, Cao Pi reversed this decision and abolished Ying province.[83]

On November 1 of 222, Cao Pi named a certain Lady Guo as his empress.[84]

Throughout 221 and 222, Sun Quan had been engaged in a war against Liu Bei, the false emperor. During this time, he had maintained friendly relations with Cao Pi in an effort to stave off a potential invasion. About halfway. through 222, Sun Quan defeated Liu Bei and his relationship with Cao Pi quickly soured. Cao Pi began to grow suspicious of Sun Quan and asked him to send his heir, Sun Deng, to the Wei court as a hostage (though the official request was that Sun Deng find a wife among Cao Pi’s courtiers). Cao Pi sent numerous envoys to Sun Quan with this request, including Hao Zhou,[85] Xin Pi, and Huan Jie, but Sun Quan would never accept their requests. Instead, he made constant excuses why he could not send Sun Deng to Wei while apologizing profusely.[86] It soon became clear that Sun Quan would not accept Cao Pi’s demands, so Cao Pi began to plan a campaign against the south to bring Sun Quan in line. Liu Ye warned against this campaign, but Cao Pi ignored his objections.[87]

In the ninth month of 222, Cao Pi assembled an all-star team of Wei’s best generals for a massive invasion of Wu. Cao Xiu led Zhang Liao and Zang Ba to attack Xiakou. Cao Zhen led, Xiahou Shang, Zhang He, and Xu Huan against Jiangling. Cao Ren was given command of the entire operation and sent to attack Ruxu. Sun Quan sent Lü Fan to oppose Cao Xiu, Zhu Ran, Zhuge Jin, Pan Zhang, and Yang Can to Jiangling, and Zhu Huan to Ruxu.[88] Sun Quan was somewhat intimidated by Cao Pi’s vast army, and he was troubled by tribal uprisings within his own territory. So he sent Cao Pi a letter with humble language, asking him to withdraw his troops and promising to send Sun Deng to the Wei court very soon. Cao Pi replied by saying that he’d withdraw his soldiers as soon as Sun Deng arrived. As Sun Quan had no intention of sending his son to Wei, neither withdrew their soldiers.[89]

In the eleventh month of 222, Cao Pi arrived in Wan to oversee the campaign against Wu.[90] The campaign went well for the Wei forces at first. Cao Xiu defeated Lü Fan at Xiakou without great difficulty. A sudden storm devastated Lü Fan’s fleet and made it easy for Cao Xiu to overwhelm them. However, Wu reinforcements came before Cao Xiu could fully capitalize on the victory.[91]

Can Ren personally concentrated on capturing Ruxu, a position that had thwarted Cao Cao’s army in 213 and 217. He spread false information, saying that he was going to attack Xiangqi. The commander at Ruxu, Zhu Huan, fell for the ploy and sent a detachment to reinforce Xiangqi. With Zhu Huan’s force weakened, Cao Ren then attacked Ruxu and crushed several waves of the Wu army with ease. However, Zhu Huan discarded most of his banners and rums to make his army appear smaller than it realy was. Cao Ren believed this show and sent his son Cao Tai to attack Ruxu directly. He also sent the generals Chang Diao and Wang Shuang to capture an island near Ruxu where the families of Zhu Huan’s soldiers lived. Cao Ren’s tactician Jiang Ji warned him that he was falling into a trap, but Cao Ren did not change his plans. As Jiang Ji feared, Chang Diao and Wang Shuang were ambushed; the former was killed in battle while the latter was captured. Zhu Huan personally commanded the defense against Cao Tai and was able to repel the Wei attack. However, Cao Ren had kept the majority of his soldiers away from the fighting, so while these losses did delay the campaign, Wei did not suffer significant casualties.[92]

Meanwhile, Sun Quan sent Sun Sheng with 10,000 soldiers to provide support to Jiangling.[93] However, Zhang He led a sudden strike against Sun Sheng and easily crushed him.[94] Zhuge Jin also brought an army to support the city, but Xiahou Shang drove him away as well. With this stroke, Jiangling was completely isolated. Cao Zhen’s forces besieged the city for the next six months.[95]

All during the campaign, a plague had ravaged Cao Pi’s army. After six months, the Wei commanders had not been able to fulfill their objectives, in spite of repeated victories. In the second month of 223, Cao Pi decided to call off the campaign and ordered all of the generals to retreat.[96]

In the subsequent months, several major losses afflicted Cao Pi’s administration. Cao Ren died in June,[97] Cao Zhang in August,[98] as well as Jia Xu. [99] Cao Pi promoted Zhong Yao to Grand Commandant to replace Jia Xu, and promoted Gao Rou to Minister of Justice [tingwei] to replace Zhong Yao.[100] At that time, the Three Excellencies were not charged with any duties and rarely participated in court discussions. Gao Rou wrote a memorial to Cao Pi urging him to entrust the Excellencies with their traditional responsibilities. Cao Pi found Gao Rou’s memorial quite persuasive and accepted his suggestions.[101]

At the start of 224, Cao Pi introduced some government reforms. Firstly, he decreed that only rebellion and treason were crimes worthy of execution – and that anyone who falsely accused another of a crime would bear the appropriate sentence instead.[102] He also introduced serious educational reforms and founded the Imperial Academy for educating worthy officials.[103] He also commissioned a massive project to create a master compendium of all the Classics and all of the various commentaries and essays about them. A great many scholars of note participated in this project, and the completed work was more than 1,000 chapters long.[104]

In autumn, Cao Pi began to plan a second campaign against Wu. Xin Pi argued against this, believing that it was doomed to failure, but Cao Pi ignored his advice.[105] He left Sima Yi in charge of the capital and traveled by boat to Guangling in the ninth month.[106] Wu was not prepared for this sudden attack and did not have adequate forces in the area to defend against the Wei invasion. The Wu general Xu Sheng constructed false walls and put many boats in the water to make it appear as though Wu’s defenses were strong.[107] Convinced tha the Wu forces were too well-prepared to attack, Cao Pi ordered his army to retreat.[108]

Cao Pi began another campaign early in 225. Once again, he left Sima Yi in charge of the capital while he personally led the army.[109] While Cao Pi was on his way south, a revolt broke out in Licheng commandery. Cao Pi sent a general with a detachment to suppress them, and the rebels fled by sea to join Sun Quan.[110] Cao Pi’s army arrived in Xu province in the eighth month, and he prepared for a naval invasion of Wu.[111] Jiang Ji, a native of the area, warned Cao Pi that the water routes would be difficult to navigate due to the weather, but Cao Pi did not listen to his advice.[112] In the tenth month, he made a show of force at Guangling, hoping to intimidate the Wu army. However, due to the cold weather, the river was partially frozen and Cao Pi was unable to bring his ships across the Jiang to attack Wu. Frustrated, he canceled the campaign.[113] He put Jiang Ji in charge of extricating the ships that were trapped on the river, a task which Jiang Ji accomplished with ease.[114]

Cao Pi returned to Xuchang early in 226. However, when he got near the city, the southern gate collapsed. Cao Pi took this as a bad omen and refused to enter the city.[115] Instead, he decided to relocate the capital to Luoyang.[116] While on the way to Luoyang, he stopped in Chenliu. The Magistrate of Chenliu took the opportunity to pay Cao Pi a formal visit, but in doing so he neglected certain duties and protocols he was required to observe. His superior wanted to punish him for it, but a superior administrative official named Bao Xun discarded the case.[117] Cao Pi had a bit of a grudge against Bao Xun for several reasons. Back when Cao Pi was the Crown Prince, one of Lady Guo’s brothers committed some sort of crime. Bao Xun was the official in charge of the matter and rendered an appropriate sentence. Cao Pi tried to intervene on the man’s behalf, but Bao Xun ignored his protests, so Cao Pi wasn’t terribly fond of him.[118] Furthermore, Bao Xun had objected to Cao Pi’s campaign in the previous year.[119] Since Bao Xun had blatantly committed a misdeed in discarding the case against the magistrate, Cao Pi ordered that he be sent to the Minister of Justice for punishment. Gao Rou reviewed the case and sentenced Bao Xun to a term of hard labor, which was in accordance with the law. However, Bao Xun was the son of Bao Xin, one of Cao Cao’s oldest friends and earliest supporters, and Bao Xun himself was well liked. Because of this, the Three Excellencies overruled Gao Rou’s sentence and simply ordered Bao Xun to pay a fine instead. Cao Pi was furious that these officials were disregarding the law to suit their whims. Numerous high officials – Zhong Yao, Chen Qun, Hua Xin, Xin Pi, Gao Rou, and Wei Zhen – still protested that Bao Xun should be pardoned, but Cao Pi ignored them.[120] Cao Rou still refused to sentence Bao Xun, so Cao Pi temporarily relieved him of his duty and had his replacement execute Bao Xun. Once that was done, Cao Pi sent Gao Rou back to work.[121]

Cao Pi also had a conflict with Cao Hong. Cao Pi had a grudge against Cao Hong due to a financial dispute. Sometime during Cao Pi’s reign, one of Cao Hong’s subordinates committed a crime, and Cao Pi imprisoned Cao Hong and intended to punish him for it. However, Empress Dowager Bian intervened and pleaded on Cao Hong’s behalf, reminding Cao Pi of the years of loyal service Cao Hong had given. She also ensured that Empress Guo also spoke out for Cao Hong. Under their influence, Cao Pi pardoned Cao Hong, though Cao Pi did strip him of his title and position.[122] It is worth nothing that Cao Hong’s retainers had a history of unlawful behavior and some of them were executed by man Chong in 196.[123] This behavior was evidently part of a pattern with Cao Hong. Regardless, Cao Hong had his titles restored by Cao Rui a few years later.[124]

In the fifth month of 226, Cao Pi was stricken with a sudden illness. Fearing that his illness would kill him, he quickly named his eldest son, Cao Rui, as Crown Prince.[125] He summoned Cao Zhen, Chen Qun, and Sima Yi to Luoyang and directed them to act as guides and guardians for Cao Rui, entrusting them with overseeing affairs after his death.[126] He passed away on June 29, only 39 years old.[127]

[1] Cao Pi, Dianlun
[2] Cao Pi, Dianlun
[3] Cao Pi, Dianlun; the Gentlemen of the Household Rapid as Tigers [huben zhonglang] were a corps of soldiers who served as the emperor’s bodyguards. It is theorized that they were candidates for military appointments, though the phrasing in the Dianlun gives one the impression that they were a permanent fixture.
[4] Cao Pi, Dianlun
[5] Huangchu 7, 14
[6] de Crespigny, Rafe, A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms
[7] Cao Pi, Dianlun
[8] de Crespigny, Rafe, A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms
[9] Cao Pi, Dianlun
[10] Cao Pi discussed his interest in these practices in a letter to Zhong Yao, a fellow practitioner; viewtopic.php?f=5&t=4030&p=586705#p586705
[11] Taoism and Sex, ... 0AND%20SEX
[12] Cao Pi highly valued the physiognomy of Gaoyuanlu; de Crespigny, Rafe, A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms
[13] Such omens led him to move the capital from Xuchang to Luoyang in 226, as observed in Huangchu 7, 1 and 2
[14] de Crespigny’s note 41 of Xiping 1
[15] Xiping 1, K
[16] ... iguai.html
[17] ... zhuan.html
[18] Cao Pi, Dianlun
[19] Dian Wei’s sanguozhi
[20] Cao Pi, Dianlun
[21] Jian’an 9, F
[22] Lady Zhen’s SGZ
[23] Cao Rui’s SGZ
[24] Jian’an 13, A; de Crespigny notes that the original source places this event in 210, but that it raises certain logistical concerns, so Sima Guang relegated it to the year 208. In his Biographical Dictionary, de Crespigny confirms the 208 date in Zhao Wen’s entry, so I have chosen to adopt that position.
[25] Jian’an 11, B; though Sima Guang lists this event in 206, prior to Cao Cao’s campaign against Gao Gan, de Crespigny clarifies that the correct year is 208, according to Cui Yan’s SGZ.
[26] Jian’an 11, YY
[27] de Crespigny’s Later Han Military Organisation details this position. Under the Han system, nominees for offices served in one of several guard corps under a General of the Gentlemen of the Household [zhonglang jiang] so that the Han court could evaluate them before granting them office. The General of the Gentlemen of the Household for All Purposes commanded a special corps of candidates who were over the age of 50. It is unclear what role, if any, this position played under Cao Cao, as the traditional recommendation system had quite broken down. This may have been an entirely honorary position.
[28] Jian’an 16, C
[29] Jian’an 17, B
[30] Jian’an 22, G
[31] Jian’an 22, H
[32] Jian’an 22, I
[33] Jian’an 22, K
[34] Jian’an 22, K
[35] Jian’an 22, L
[36] Jian’an 22, M
[37] Jian’an 22, E
[38] Queen Bian was, of course, the wife of Cao Cao and mother of Cao Pi.
[39] Jian’an 24, Q
[40] Huangchu 1, 1
[41] Huangchu 1, 7
[42] Huangchu 1, 9
[43] Huangchu 1, 10
[44] Huangchu 1, 14
[45] Huangchu 1, 17; Sima Guang places this event in 220, just after Cao Pi’s ascension to King of Wei, but Fang says that Ding Yi and Ding I were definitively killed in 221.
[46] Huangchu 1, 21
[47] Huangchu 1, 26
[48] Huangchu 1, 27
[49] Huangchu 1, 28; Liu Ye’s advice was about half correct. Meng Da and Cao Pi became close personal friends, and he remained loyal to Wei during Cao Pi’s lifetime. However, after Cao Pi’s death, Meng Da no longer felt secure and did eventually return to his previous allegiance. For this betrayal, he met a swift end at the hands of Sima Yi.
[50] Huangchu 1, 29
[51] Huangchu 1, 30
[52] Huangchu 1, 34
[53] Huangchu 1, 35
[54] Huangchu 1, 36
[55] Huangchu 1, 37
[56] Huangchu 1, 41
[57] Empresses and Consorts, 94
[58] Huangchu 2, 10
[59] Lady Zhen’s SGZ
[60] Lady Zhen’s SGZ
[61] Huangchu 1, 17; Sima Guang places this event in 220, just after Cao Pi’s ascension to King of Wei, but Fang says that Ding Yi and Ding I were definitively killed in 221.
[62] Jian’an 22, G
[63] Jian’an 21, B
[64] de Crespigny’s note 4 of Jian’an 21
[65] Jian’an 21, B
[66] Jian’an 21, C
[67] Jian’an 21, D
[68] de Crespigny, Rafe, A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms
[69] Huangchu 2, 24
[70] de Crespigny, Rafe, A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms
[71] Huangchu 2, 27
[72] Huangchu 2, 30
[73] Huangchu 2, 37
[74] Huangchu 2, 38
[75] Huangchu 3, 3
[76] Huangchu 3, 7
[77] Huangchu 3, 10
[78] Huangchu 3, 11
[79] de Crespigny, Later Han Civil Administration
[80] Some of Cao Pi’s officials, most notably Jia Kui, grew suspicious of Cao Zhang when he requested to see Cao Cao’s royal seal after his death. (Huangchu 1, 6)
[81] Jiaping 1, 29
[82] Huangchu 3, 14; the obvious notion here was that Wei would claim control over Ying and permit Sun Quan to keep control of what was now designated as Jing province. It is worth noting that several major cities in what was to be Ying were still under Sun Quan’s direct control, particularly the cities of Jiangling, Zigui, Xiakou, and Yiling.
[83] Huangchu 3, 35
[84] Huangchu 3, 28
[85] Huangchu 3, 29
[86] Huangchu 3, 30
[87] Huangchu 3, 31
[88] Huangchu 3, 32
[89] Huangchu 3, 34
[90] Huangchu 3, 36
[91] Huangchu 3, 37
[92] Huangchu 4, 3
[93] Huangchu 3, 42
[94] Huangchu 4, 1
[95] Huangchu 4, 4
[96] Huangchu 4, 6
[97] Huangchu 4, 9
[98] Huangchu 4, 20
[99] Huangchu 4, 21
[100] Huangchu 4, 25
[101] Huangchu 4, 26
[102] Huangchu 5, 1
[103] Huangchu 5, 3
[104] de Crespigny, Rafe, A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms
[105] Huangchu 5, 8
[106] Huangchu 5, 9
[107] Huangchu 5, 10
[108] Huangchu 5, 13
[109] Huangchu 6, 1
[110] Huangchu 6, 16
[111] Huangchu 6, 22
[112] Huangchu 6, 23
[113] Huangchu 6, 24
[114] Huangchu 6, 25
[115] Huangchu 7, 1
[116] Huangchu 7, 2
[117] Huangchu 7, 6
[118] Huangchu 7, 5
[119] Huangchu 6, 6
[120] Huangchu 7, 6
[121] Huangchu 7, 7
[122] Huangchu 7, 8
[123] Jian’an 1, Y
[124] Cao Hong’s SGZ
[125] Huangchu 7, 11
[126] Huangchu 7, 12
[127] Huangchu 7, 13
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Re: Cao Pi Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby Lynx the Antithesis » Sat Mar 08, 2014 11:33 pm

I always liked Cao Pi because he seemed to possess promising leadership capabilities, political prowess, intellect, and above average physical ability. A shame his reign was as brief as it turned out to be. Many could claim that he mishandled the opportune situation between Shu and Sun Quan, but he did have the gigantic empire of Wei to further organize and solidify after only very recently coming to power.

I did find Liu Ye's advice amusing because he strongly urged Cao Pi to attack Sun Quan during 221, then a year later protested against the campaign against him. At both junctures the counseling by Liu Ye did make sense though.
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Re: Cao Pi Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby DragonAtma » Sun Mar 09, 2014 9:27 am

Liu Ye's advice definitely made sense. As for the 221 semi-surrender, Cao Pi surely knew that Sun Quan was doing it to get Liu Bei off his back; that would have been an excellent time for Cao Pi to suggest that Sun Quan send Sun Deng (and promise that Sun Deng a suitably high position if he turns out worthy of one). After all, if Sun Quan wouldn't send Sun Deng, it could be interpreted as a false surrender.
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Re: Cao Pi Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby Shen Ai » Wed Jul 09, 2014 8:19 am


His campaigns in Wu seemed to fail mostly due to plain bad luck rather than inferior skill. If anything, Wei seem to have won most of the battles.
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