Cao Chun

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Cao Chun
General of Cao Cao
Born (Unknown)
Died 210
Traditional Chinese 曹純
Simplified Chinese 曹纯
Pinyin Cáo Chún
Wade–Giles Ts'ao Shun
Courtesy name Zihe (Chinese: 子和; pinyin: Zǐhé; Wade–Giles: Tzu-h'o)
Posthumous name Marquis Wei (Chinese: 威侯; pinyin: Wēi Hóu; Wade–Giles: Wei Hou)

Cao Chun (died 210),[1] courtesy name Zihe, was a cavalry general serving under the warlord Cao Cao in the late Eastern Han dynasty. He was the younger brother of Cao Ren, a better known general who also served under Cao Cao. He commanded the elite mounted force – the Tiger and Leopard Cavalry (虎豹骑) – in several campaigns against Cao Cao's rivals Yuan Tan, Tadun and Liu Bei.


Cao Chun was a younger brother of Cao Ren. When Cao Chun was thirteen, their father died and the brothers took over the family estates and several hundred servants in their employ, whom Cao Chun managed well. Being well-learned himself, Cao Chun also befriended scholars, who flocked to him.

At seventeen, Cao Chun entered the Han imperial court in Luoyang as the Attendant at the Yellow Gates (黄门侍郎, a spokesman for the emperor). In 189, Cao Chun joined his elder cousin Cao Cao's army and followed him to war against Dong Zhuo, the tyrannical warlord who held the emperor hostage.

During the siege of Nanpi against Yuan Tan in early 205, Cao Chun commanded the elite mounted force – the Tiger and Leopard Cavalry. In the initial stage of the confrontation, Cao Cao's troops suffered significant losses to skirmishes by the enemy but eventually prevailed. Cao Chun's men took the head of Yuan Tan.

In the subsequent northern expedition against the Wuhuan tribe, Cao Chun's force again excelled in battle. The riders captured Tadun, chief of the Wuhuan, in the Battle of White Wolf Mountain. For his credits, Cao Chun was enfeoffed as Tinghou[2] of Gaoling (高陵亭侯) with stipends from 300 households.

In 208, Cao Chun accompanied Cao Cao south on the campaign to take the Jingzhou. At Xiangyang, Cao Chun and his men was sent ahead to pursue the retreating force of Liu Bei. They caught Liu Bei at Changban and in the ensuing encounter, captured Liu Bei's two daughters and supplies, as well as some enemy troops.

Cao Chun pressed on south to secure the strategic city of Jiangling, which had a cache of armaments and a sizeable river fleet. He then returned to his hometown, where he died in 210. According to the Book of Wei, Cao Cao favored Cao Chun so much that he refused to appoint anyone to succeed the commandership of the Tiger and Leopard Cavalry.

In 220, Cao Cao's successor Cao Pi conferred Cao Chun the posthumous title of Marquis Wei (威侯), literally meaning the awe-inspiring marquis. Cao Chun's son Cao Yan (曹演) also served in the military and was eventually promoted to Lingjun General (领军将军) and Marquis[2] of Pingle (平乐乡侯).


  • Grandfather: Cao Bao (曹褒), served as Administrator of Yingchuan
  • Father: Cao Chi (曹熾), served as a Palace Attendant and Changshui Colonel, posthumously granted title of Marquis of Chenmu.
  • Siblings:
    • Cao Ren, older brother, served Cao Cao
  • Children:
    • Cao Yan (曹演), appointed General Who Leads the Army, granted title of Marquis of Pingle in 255
  • Grandchildren:
    • Cao Liang (曹亮), son of Cao Yan

Appointments and titles held[edit]

  • Gentleman of the Yellow Gate (黃門侍郎)
  • Consultant and Army Advisor to the Excellency of Works (議郎參司空軍事)
  • Marquis of Gaoling (高陵亭侯)
  • Marquis Wei (威侯) - granted to Cao Chun posthumously

See also[edit]


  1. ^ de Crespigny, Rafe (2007). A biographical dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms (23–220 AD). Brill. p. 40. ISBN 978-90-04-15605-0. 
  2. ^ a b The title of marquis was divided into four grades under the Kingdom of Wei during the late Han Dynasty and Three Kingdoms period. These are, in ascending order of prestige, guanneihou, tinghou (亭侯), xianghou (乡侯) and xianhou (县侯).