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Empress Mao (Ming)

Empress Mao
Empress of Cao Wei
TenureNovember or December 227 – 22 September 237
PredecessorGuo Nüwang
SuccessorEmpress Guo
Died(237-09-22)22 September 237[a]
SpouseCao Rui
IssueCao Yin (曹殷)
Posthumous name
Empress Mingdao (明悼皇后)
FatherMao Jia (毛嘉)

Empress Mao (died 22 September 237),[a] personal name unknown, formally known as Empress Mingdao, was an empress of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China. She was married to Cao Rui, the second emperor of Wei.

Empress Mao became a concubine of Cao Rui during the reign of his father, Cao Pi. Cao Rui was the Prince of Pingyuan at that time. She was not his wife or princess – that status belonged to Cao Rui's first wife, Lady Yu. However, she was Cao Rui's favourite concubine.

When Cao Rui became emperor in 226 following his father's death, it was widely expected that Lady Yu, as his wife, would be created empress. However, Cao Rui created Consort Mao empress instead in 227. Even though her family was of low birth, her father Mao Jia (毛嘉), who was a carpenter, and brother Mao Zeng (毛曾) were given honorary positions, and Mao Jia was created a marquis. When Cao Rui became aware that the aristocratic families looked down at his father-in-law, he promoted Mao Jia further and ordered all important officials to attend feasts at the Mao residence.

However, as the years went by, Empress Mao began to lose Cao Rui's favour. By 237, Consort Guo had replaced her as Cao Rui's favourite. Once, when Cao Rui was attending a feast hosted by Consort Guo, Consort Guo requested that Empress Mao be invited to join as well, but Cao Rui refused and further ordered that no news about the feast be given to Empress Mao. However, the news leaked, and Empress Mao talked about the feast with him anyway. He became exceedingly angry, and killed a number of his attendants whom he suspected of leaking the news to Empress Mao, and, inexplicably, ordered Empress Mao to commit suicide on 22 September 237, even though she was still buried on 25 October 237 with honours befitting an empress, and her family remained honoured.

See also


  1. ^ a b Cao Rui's biography in the Sanguozhi recorded that Empress Mao died on the gengchen day of the 9th month of the 1st year of the Jingchu era of Cao Rui's reign.[1] This date corresponds to 22 September 237 in the Gregorian calendar.


  1. ^ ([景初元年九月]庚辰,皇后毛氏卒。) Sanguozhi vol. 3.
Chinese royalty
Preceded by
Empress Guo Nüwang
Empress of Cao Wei
Succeeded by
Empress Guo
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