Cai Mao

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Cai Mao
General of Cao Cao
Born (Unknown)
Died (Unknown)
Traditional Chinese 蔡瑁
Simplified Chinese 蔡瑁
Pinyin Cài Mào
Wade–Giles Ts'ai Mao
Courtesy name Degui (德珪)

Cai Mao (birth and death years unknown),[1] courtesy name Degui, was a general serving under the warlord Cao Cao in the late Eastern Han dynasty. He was from an influential clan in Nan Commandery (南郡), Jing Province and previously served under the provincial governor Liu Biao. His sister, Lady Cai, was Liu Biao's second wife.

Around 208 CE, when Liu Biao was critically ill and was dying, Cai Mao prevented Liu Biao's elder son, Liu Qi, from seeing his father because he and his sister favoured Liu Biao's younger son, Liu Cong. Liu Cong succeeded his father as the governor of Jing Province after the latter's death. Less than a month later, Cai Mao and others convinced Liu Cong to surrender and yield Jing Province to Cao Cao. As a childhood friend of Cao Cao, Cai Mao received numerous ranks and positions after Jing Province was occupied by Cao.[1]

In fiction[edit]

In Luo Guanzhong's historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Cai Mao was cast to be a capable naval commander.

Cai Mao initially suffered several defeats against the warlord Sun Jian. Liu Biao's advisor Kuai Liang insisted that Cai Mao be put to death for his failures, but Liu Biao refused.

When Liu Biao named his oldest son Liu Qi as his heir on his deathbed, Cai Mao and his nephew Zhang Yun wrote a forged will choosing Liu Biao's second son Liu Cong, because Liu Cong was married to Cai Mao's niece. Cai Mao then sent Liu Qi back to Jiangxia.

When Cao Cao marched on their territory with a huge army, Cai Mao and Zhang Yun surrendered and became Cao Cao's chief naval commanders against Sun Quan.

Cai Mao and Zhang Yun's forces suffered early defeats against Zhou Yu's forces. Zhou forged letters from Cai and Zhang and had Jiang Gan return them to Cao Cao. Cai and Zhang were then executed by Cao. Cao Cao later on learned that he was tricked to execute Cai Mao and Zhang Yun but never admitted to his own mistake.

Appointments and titles held[edit]

  • Assistant Officer of the Household (從事中郎)
  • Major (司馬)
  • Changshui Colonel (長水校尉)
  • Marquis of Hanyang Village (漢陽亭侯)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b de Crespigny, Rafe (2007). A biographical dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms (23–220 AD). Brill. p. 28. ISBN 978-90-04-15605-0.