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Dong Zhao (Three Kingdoms)

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Dong Zhao (Three Kingdoms)

Dong Zhao
Official of Cao Wei
Born 156[1]
Died 236 (aged 80)[1]
Traditional Chinese 董昭
Simplified Chinese 董昭
Pinyin Dǒng Zhāo
Wade–Giles Tung Chao
Courtesy name Gongren (Chinese: 公仁; pinyin: Gōngrén; Wade–Giles: Kung-jen)
Posthumous name Marquis Ding (Chinese: 定侯; pinyin: Dìng Hóu; Wade–Giles: Ting Hou)

Dong Zhao (156-236),[1] courtesy name Gongren, was a politician in the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period. He previously served under the warlords Yuan Shao, Zhang Yang and Cao Cao consecutively in the late Eastern Han Dynasty.

Service under Yuan Shao

Dong Zhao was a xiaolian and served as a county official in his early years under Yuan Shao before being promoted to a military advisor. He was appointed as the governing official of several prefectures and commanderies in Yuan Shao's territory and governed them well. However, Yuan Shao listened to slanderous rumours and began to doubt Dong Zhao's loyalty towards him. Dong Zhao was fearful that Yuan Shao might kill him and he fled.

Service under Zhang Yang

Dong Zhao wanted to flee to where the Emperor Xian was and on the way he passed by Henei Prefecture, which was governed by the warlord Zhang Yang. Zhang Yang let Dong Zhao join his service and appointed him as an official. In 192, when Cao Cao wanted to seek permission to pass through Zhang Yang's territory to receive the Emperor from exile, Zhang Yang initially refused by after Dong Zhao's persuasion he agreed. Dong Zhao followed Cao Cao to receive the Emperor.

Service under Cao Cao

In 196, the Emperor met Cao Cao where he was received was all due respect after Dong Zhao's suggestion. After the death of Zhang Yang, Dong Zhao went to persuade Zhang's followers to join Cao Cao. By then, Dong Zhao had formally entered Cao Cao's service. In 199, after Cao Cao seized back Xuzhou from Liu Bei, Dong Zhao was appointed as governor of Xuzhou. Subsequently, Dong Zhao followed Cao Cao on the campaigns against Yuan Shao and the Wuhuan and was promoted to even higher official positions. In 216, Dong Zhao aided Cao Cao by persuading the Emperor to confer on Cao the title of Prince of Wei. In 219, while Guan Yu was attacking Fancheng, Sun Quan agreed to send reinforcements to help the entrapped Cao Ren. To keep things secret, Dong Zhao proposed a trick of tying the messages written on paper onto arrows which were fired into the city. When Cao Ren's troops heard that Sun Quan was willing to send reinforcements, the army's morale was boosted and eventually culminated in the defeat of Guan Yu.

Service in Wei

In 220, Cao Pi ascended to the throne and established the state of Cao Wei. Throughout the reign of Cao Pi and his son and successor Cao Rui, Dong Zhao played an important role in state affairs by providing suggestions and advice to the rulers. He managed to predict the movements and decisions of the enemy accurately a few times and saved Wei's armies from defeat, such as during a campaign against the rival state of Eastern Wu in which Dong predicted correctly that there would be an ambush. Highly recognised for his contributions to the state of Wei, Dong Zhao was promoted to even higher official positions. In 236, Dong Zhao died at the age of 81 and was given a posthumous title of a marquis.

Appointments and titles held

  • Filial and Incorrupt (孝廉) - nominated candidate to be a Gentleman Cadet (郎)
  • Chief of Yingtao (癭陶長)
  • Prefect of Bairen County (柏人縣令)
  • Army Advisor (參軍) to Yuan Shao
  • Administrator of Julu (巨鹿太守)
  • Administrator of Wei Commandery (魏郡太守)
  • Commandant of Cavalry (騎都尉)
  • Consultant (議郎)
The following appointments and titles were held by Dong Zhao when he served under Cao Cao
  • Prefect of Insignia and Credentials (符節令)
  • Governor of Ji Province (冀州牧)
  • Governor of Xu Province (徐州牧)
  • Counsellor Remonstrant (諫議大夫)
  • Marquis of Qianqiu (千秋亭侯)
  • Libationer of the Excellency of Works' Army (司空軍祭酒)
The following appointments and titles were held by Dong Zhao when he served the state of Wei
  • Court Architect (將作大匠)
  • Minister Herald (大鴻臚)
  • Marquis of the Right (右鄉候)
  • Palace Attendant (侍中)
  • Marquis of Chengdu (成都鄉侯)
  • Minister of Ceremonies (太常)
  • Household Counsellor (光祿大夫)
  • Geishizhong (給事中)
  • Minister Coachman (太僕)
  • Marquis of Leping (樂平侯)
  • Minister of the Guards (衛尉)
  • Marquis Ding (定侯) - granted to Dong Zhao posthumously

See also


  1. ^ a b c Cao Rui's biography in Records of the Three Kingdoms stated that Dong Zhao died in the 5th lunar month in the 4th year of the Qinglong era (233-237) of Cao Rui's reign. ([青龍四年]五月乙卯,司徒董昭薨。) Dong Zhao's biography stated that he was 81 years old (by East Asian age reckoning) when he died. (昭年八十一薨,謚曰定侯。) By calculation, Dong Zhao's birth year should be around 156.

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