Cao Wei

Last updated on 7 November 2017

Wei (220–265), also known as Cao Wei, was one of the three major states that competed for supremacy over China in the Three Kingdoms period (220–280). With its capital at Luoyang, the state was established by Cao Pi in 220, based upon the foundations laid by his father, Cao Cao, towards the end of the Eastern Han dynasty. The name "Wei" first became associated with Cao Cao when he was named the Duke of Wei by the Eastern Han government in 213, and became the name of the state when Cao Pi proclaimed himself emperor in 220. Historians often add the prefix "Cao" to distinguish it from other Chinese states known as "Wei", such as Wei of the Warring States period and Northern Wei of the Southern and Northern Dynasties. The authority of the ruling Cao family gradually weakened after the death of the second Wei emperor, Cao Rui, and eventually fell into the hands of Sima Yi, a Wei regent, and his family, in 249. Cao Rui's successors remained as puppet rulers under the control of the Simas until Sima Yi's grandson, Sima Yan, forced the last Wei ruler, Cao Huan, to abdicate the throne and established the Jin dynasty.

Eastern Wu
Western Jin
Eastern Han
Eastern Wu
Western Jin
Western Jin
Eastern Wu
Eastern Han
Eastern Han
Succeeded by
Preceded by
220–265
Wei
Three Kingdoms.png
The territories of Cao Wei (in yellow), 262 AD.
Capital Luoyang
Languages Old Chinese
Religion Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion
Government Monarchy
Emperor
 •  220–226 Cao Pi
 •  226–239 Cao Rui
 •  239–254 Cao Fang
 •  254–260 Cao Mao
 •  260–265 Cao Huan
Historical era Three Kingdoms
 •  Abdication of Emperor Xian of Han 10 December 220
 •  Eastern Wu declaring independence from Wei 222
 •  Cao Wei conquers Shu Han 263
 •  Abdication of Cao Huan 4 February 265
Population
 •  260 est. 4,432,881 (disputed)[1][a] 
Currency Chinese coin, Chinese cash
Today part of  China
 North Korea
 Vietnam (220-222; 263-265)
Tsô Guī
Cou4 Ngai6
[tsʰȍu ŋɐ̀i]
Chou4 Ngai6
[tsʰǎu wêi]
Ts'ao2 Wei4
Tsaur Wey
Cáo Wèi
Cao Wei
Traditional Chinese 曹魏
Simplified Chinese 曹魏

History

Beginnings and founding

Bronze crossbow trigger, Wei Dynasty, 242 AD.JPG
A bronze crossbow trigger mechanism, Wei dynasty, 242 AD

Towards the end of the Eastern Han dynasty, northern China came under the control of Cao Cao, the chancellor to the last Han ruler, Emperor Xian. In 213, Emperor Xian granted Cao Cao the title of "Duke of Wei" (魏公) and gave him ten cities as his dukedom. The area was named "Wei". At that time, the southern part of China was divided into two areas controlled by two other warlords, Liu Bei and Sun Quan. In 216, Emperor Xian promoted Cao Cao to the status of a vassal king — "King of Wei (魏王)" — and granted him more territories.

Cao Cao died on 15 March 220 and his vassal king title was inherited by his son Cao Pi. Later that year, on 11 December, Cao Pi forced Emperor Xian to abdicate in his favour and took over the throne, establishing the state of Wei. However, Liu Bei immediately contested Cao Pi's claim to the Han throne and declared himself "Emperor of Shu Han" a year later. Sun Quan was nominally a vassal king under Wei, but he declared independence in 222 and eventually proclaimed himself "Emperor of Wu" in 229.

Reigns of Cao Pi and Cao Rui

Cao Pi ruled for six years until his death in 226 and was succeeded by his son, Cao Rui, who ruled until his death in 239. Throughout the reigns of Cao Pi and Cao Rui, Wei had been fighting numerous wars with its two rival states — Shu and Wu.

Between 228 and 234, Zhuge Liang, the Shu chancellor and regent, led a series of five military campaigns to attack Wei's western borders (within present-day Gansu and Shaanxi), with the aim of conquering Chang'an, a strategic city which lay on the road to the Wei capital, Luoyang. The Shu invasions were repelled by the Wei armies led by the generals Cao Zhen, Sima Yi, Zhang He and others; Shu did not make any significant gains in the expeditions.

On its southern and eastern borders, Wei engaged Wu in a series of armed conflicts throughout the 220s and 230s, including the battles of Dongkou (222-223), Jiangling (223) and Shiting (228). However, most of the battles resulted in stalemate and neither side managed to significantly expand its territory.

Goguryeo–Wei Wars

Around that time, as the Korean kingdom Goguryeo consolidated its power, it proceeded to act to conquer the territories on the Korean peninsula which were under Chinese rule.[4] 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, Wei responded by invading and defeated Goguryeo. Hwando was destroyed in revenge by Wei forces in 244.[4]

Fall of Wei

In 249, during the reign of Cao Rui's successor, Cao Fang, the regent Sima Yi seized state power from his co-regent, Cao Shuang, in a coup. 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 eldest 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.

Government

The system of government in Wei inherited many aspects from that of the Eastern Han dynasty. During his reign, Cao Pi established two separate government bodies - the Central Inspectorate (中書監) and the Mobile Imperial Secretariat (行尚書臺) — to reduce the authority of the Imperial Secretariat (尚書臺) and consolidate the power of the central government.

During this time, the minister Chen Qun developed the nine-rank system for civil service nomination, which was adopted by later dynasties until it was superseded by the imperial examination system in the Sui dynasty.

Cao Pi felt that the Han dynasty collapsed because the Governors (州牧) of the various provinces wielded too much power and fell out of the control of the central government. He reduced the role of a Governor to that of an Inspector (刺史), and permitted the Inspectors to administer only civil affairs in their respective provinces, while military affairs were handled by military personnel based in regional offices or in the capital.

Culture

The kaishu style of Chinese calligraphy was developed at some time between the late Eastern Han dynasty and the Cao Wei dynasty. Its first known master was Zhong Yao, an official of Wei.[5]

Ruling class

According to the Book of Wei, the Cao family descended from the Yellow Emperor through his grandson Zhuanxu. They were of the same lineage as Emperor Shun. Another account says that the Cao family descended from Emperor Shun. This account was attacked by Chiang Chi, who claimed that those with the family name "Tian" descended from Shun, but not those surnamed "Cao". He also claimed that "Gui" (媯) was Emperor Shun's family name.[6]

List of territories

You Province
幽州
Commanderies
Fanyang
范陽
Dai
Yuyang
漁陽
Right Beiping
右北平
Liaoxi
遼西
Lelang
樂浪
Shanggu
上谷
Yan (state)
燕國
Changli
昌黎
Xuantu
玄菟
Liaodong
遼東
Daifang
帶方
Ji Province
冀州
Commanderies
Wei
Yangping
陽平
Guangping
廣平
Qinghe
清河
Julu
鉅鹿
Zhao (state)
趙國
Changshan
常山
Anping
安平
Pingyuan
平原
Leling (state)
樂陵
Hejian
河間
Bohai
渤海
Zhongshan (state)
中山國
Qing Province
青州
Commanderies
Chengyang
城陽
Donglai
東萊
Beihai (state)
北海國
Qi (state)
齊國
Le'an
樂安
Jinan (state)
濟南國
Bing Province
并州
Commanderies
Shangdang
上黨
Xihe
西河
Taiyuan
太原
Leping
樂平
Xinxing
新興
Yanmen
雁門
Si Province
司州
Commanderies
Henan
河南尹
Hongnong
弘農
Henei
河內
Hedong
河東
Pingyang
平陽
Yan Province
兗州
Commanderies
Taishan
泰山
Jibei (state)
濟北國
Dongping (state)
東平國
Dong
Rencheng
任城
Shanyang
山陽
Jiyin
濟陰
Chenliu (state)
陳留國
Xu Province
徐州
Commanderies
Dongguan
東莞
Langye (state)
琅琊國
Donghai (state)
東海國
Guangling
廣陵
Xiapi
下邳
Pengcheng (state)
彭城國
Yong Province
雍州
Commanderies
Jingzhao
京兆
Pingyi
馮翊
Fufeng
扶風
Beidi
北地
Xinping
新平
Anding
安定
Guangwei
廣魏
Tianshui
天水
Nan'an
南安
Longxi
隴西
Yu Province
豫州
Commanderies
Chen
Yingchuan
潁川
Runan
汝南
Liang (state)
梁國
Pei (state)
沛國
Qiao
Lu
Yiyang
弋陽
Anfeng
安豐
Liang Province
涼州
Commanderies
Wuwei
武威
Jincheng
金城
Xiping
西平
Zhangye
張掖
Jiuquan
酒泉
Xihai
西海
Dunhuang
敦煌
Yang Province
揚州
Commanderies
Huainan
淮南
Lujiang
廬江
Jing Province
荊州
Commanderies
Jiangxia
江夏
Xiangyang
襄陽
Xincheng
新城
Nanyang
南陽
Nanxiang
南鄉
Shangyong
上庸
Weixing
魏興
Zhangling (Yiyang)
章陵 (義陽)

List of sovereigns

Cao Wei rulers
Temple name Posthumous name Family name (in bold) and personal name Reign Era names and their year ranges Notes
(N/A) Emperor Gao
高皇帝
Cao Teng
曹騰
(N/A) (N/A) Cao Teng's posthumous name was granted posthumously by Cao Rui.
(N/A) Emperor Tai
太皇帝
Cao Song
曹嵩
(N/A) (N/A) Cao Song's posthumous name was granted posthumously by Cao Pi.
Taizu
太祖
Emperor Wu
武皇帝
Cao Cao
曹操
(N/A) (N/A) Cao Cao's temple and posthumous names were granted posthumously by Cao Pi.
Shizu
世祖
Emperor Wen
文皇帝
Cao Pi
曹丕
220-226
  • Huangchu
    黃初 (220-226)
Liezu
烈祖
Emperor Ming
明皇帝
Cao Rui
曹叡
227-239
  • Taihe
    太和 (227-233)
  • Qinglong
    青龍 (233-237)
  • Jingchu
    景初 (237-239)
(N/A) (N/A) Cao Fang
曹芳
240-249
  • Zhengshi
    正始 (240-249)
  • Jiaping
    嘉平 (249-254)
Cao Fang became "Prince of Qi" (齊王) after his dethronement. He was posthumously granted the title "Duke Li of Shaoling" (邵陵厲公) in the Western Jin dynasty.
(N/A) (N/A) Cao Mao
曹髦
254-260
  • Zhengyuan
    正元 (254-256)
  • Ganlu
    甘露 (256-260)
Cao Mao was granted the posthumous name of "Duke of Gaogui" (高貴鄉公).
(N/A) Emperor Yuan
元皇帝
Cao Huan
曹奐
260-265
  • Jingyuan
    景元 (260-264)
  • Xianxi
    咸熙 (264-265)

See also

Notes

  1. ^ This figure, based on numbers given in the Sanguozhi, has been called into question since the census system is claimed to have been flawed. The actual population is likely to be far greater.[2] Tanner (2009) estimates the population of Wei to be over ⅔ of the Han population.[3]

References

  1. ^ Zou Jiwan (Chinese: 鄒紀萬), Zhongguo Tongshi - Weijin Nanbeichao Shi 中國通史·魏晉南北朝史, (1992).
  2. ^ Institute of Advanced Studies (December 1991). Barme, Gerome, ed. Easy Asian History: THE CONTINUATION OF Papers on Far Eastern History (PDF) (Number 2 ed.). Canberra, Australia: Australian National University. pp. 149–152. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  3. ^ Tanner, Harold M. (13 March 2009). "Chapter 5: The Age of Warriors and Buddhists". China: A History. Hackett Publishing. p. 142. When it was established, Wu had only one-sixth of the population of the Eastern Han Empire (Cao Wei held over two-thirds of the Han population).
  4. ^ a b Charles Roger Tennant (1996). A history of Korea. Kegan Paul International. p. 22. ISBN 0-7103-0532-X. capital on the middle reaches of the Yalu near the modern Chinese town of Ji'an, calling it 'Hwando'. By developing both their iron weapons and their political organization, they had reached a stage where in the turmoil that accompanied the break-up of the Han empire they were able to threaten the Chinese colonies
  5. ^ Qiu Xigui (2000). Chinese Writing. Translated by Mattos and Jerry Norman. Early China Special Monograph Series No. 4. Berkeley: The Society for the Study of Early China and the Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley. ISBN 1-55729-071-7; p.142-3
  6. ^ Howard L. Goodman (1998). Ts'ao P'i transcendent: the political culture of dynasty-founding in China at the end of the Han (illustrated ed.). Psychology Press. p. 70. ISBN 0-9666300-0-9. Retrieved 2012-04-01.

Further reading

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