Even as a young boy,
Cao Cao had a knack for clever tricks. Many people told him, "A skilled
and dominating man is needed to pacify our world, that man will be you."
And Cao Cao was told through proverb, "The wise men of the empire will
emerge from the great villains of turbulent times."
Cao Cao distinguished himself during the
suppression of the Yellow Turban Rebellion. He was the one who roused
leaders across China to unite against Dong Zhuo. Once Dong Zhuo was
destroyed, he acquired Yanzhou as his base and built up his military
by subjugating former Yellow Turban rebels. Then, posing as Emperor
Xian's protector, Cao Cao stationed his own guards around the Imperial
Palace in a move to secure power over the throne. He even moved the
capital from Luoyang to Xuchang.
He branched out across the northern regions and subjugated Yuan
Shu and Lu Bu. In a final sweep of Yuan Shao's puny forces, the entire
northern frontier succumbed to him. However, in the battle of Red Wall,
the forces he led southward into the Jing district were no match for
the joint defense of Sun Quan and Liu Bei. His army perished in flames
during a battle on the river.
Following defeat at Red Wall, he retreated
northward to salvage his home base. Later when he gained control of
Hanzhong, Cao Cao's territory encompassed roughly two-thirds of all
provinces in China. his advisors urged him to depose the Emperor and
step up to the throne. Instead, he declared himself Duke of the Wei
Kingdom, thereby preserving his military authority.
Cao Cao was a brilliant
military strategist and quickly rose to military eminence. Unlike other
rulers who dispatched their generals to lead armies into war, he always
rode at the front of his army. As a domestic administrator, Cao Cao
developed a system for colonization and distribution of provisions.
Zhuge Liang and Lu Xun also adopted this plan, thus making it popular
throughout China. He was known to scout talent even from amongst enemy
armies. It showed that he recruited talented men who fought for duty's
Although positioned on the battlefield
much of the time, Cao Cao never gave up his books. He revered scholarship
in earnest. He wrote a famous book named "Treatise of Mengde".
In particular he was well-versed in the tactical writings of Sun Tzu,
and to this day his critique of Sun Tzu's war manual is still read.
Cao Cao was truly a master of both military and literary arts.