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Empress Cao (Han dynasty)

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Title: Empress Cao (Han dynasty)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Niu Jin, Cao Lin, Lady Xiahou Hui, Deng Yang, Lady Cai
Collection: 260 Deaths, 2Nd-Century Births, 3Rd-Century Women, Cao Cao and Immediate Family, Han Dynasty Empresses, Han Dynasty Imperials Related to the Three Kingdoms
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Empress Cao (Han dynasty)

Cao Jie
Empress of the Eastern Han dynasty
Born 197
Died 260 (aged 62–63)
Traditional Chinese 曹節
Simplified Chinese 曹节
Pinyin Cáo Jié
Wade–Giles Ts'ao Chieh
Other names

Cao Jie (197-260), formally known as Empress Xianmu, was an empress of the Eastern Han dynasty. She was the second wife of Emperor Xian, the last Han emperor, and became known as the Duchess of Shanyang after her husband's abdication. She was a half-sister of Cao Pi, who ended the Han dynasty by forcing Emperor Xian to abdicate the throne in his favour and established the state of Cao Wei.

Family background and marriage to Emperor Xian

Cao Jie was a daughter of the warlord Cao Cao, who by 196 had Emperor Xian under his control and issuing edicts in Emperor Xian's name to his own benefit in his campaign to reunite the empire, which had been held by regional warlords. In 213, Cao, who by that point had been created the Duke of Wei (later King of Wei), offered three daughters to be Emperor Xian's consorts—Jie and her older sister, Cao Xian (Chinese: 曹憲), and younger sister, Cao Hua (Chinese: 曹華). Initially, their titles were Furen (夫人), and in 214 their titles were upgraded to Guiren (貴人).

In 214, Emperor Xian's first wife Empress Fu Shou was discovered to have advocated a conspiracy against Cao Cao in 200, and although 14 years had elapsed, Cao was still so angry at her that he forcibly had her deposed and executed. In 215, Cao Jie was named Empress to replace her.

As empress and duchess

Not much is known about Empress Cao's life as empress, but it was clear that by that point her husband was thoroughly powerless, as her father held all power. In 220, her father died, and her brother Cao Pi succeeded him as the Prince of Wei. Later that year, he forced Emperor Xian to abdicate in favor of him, ending the Han Dynasty. It is said by traditional historians that when Cao Pi sent messengers to demand Empress Cao surrender her empress seal, she refused several times, but finally relented. As her husband was created the Duke of Shanyang, she was given the title the Duchess of Shanyang. Her husband died in 234, and she died 26 years later and was

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