Cao Fang (Emperor of Cao Wei)
Cao Fang was the third emperor of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period. He was adopted by Cao Rui, the second ruler of Wei, and ruled from January 239 to October 254. Throughout his reign, real political power was held by regents, first Cao Shuang and later Sima Yi and his son Sima Shi.
Cao Fang’s parentage is uncertain, but he was likely the son of Cao Kai, the Prince of Rencheng. He was adopted by Cao Rui at a young age and instated as the Prince of Qi in 235. When Cao Rui fell ill, he designated Cao Fang as his successor and appointed regents to assist him. However, these regents gradually stripped away power from each other, and ultimately Sima Yi seized control of the government after a coup in 249.
Under Sima Yi’s regency, Cao Fang was a figurehead ruler with no real authority. Sima Yi eliminated corruption and inefficiency but also eliminated his political opponents. In 254, Sima Shi, Sima Yi’s son, deposed Cao Fang due to suspicions of a plot against him and replaced him with Empress Wang. Cao Fang was demoted to the Prince of Qi and later to the status of a duke when the Jin Dynasty was established in 266. He died in 274 and was posthumously granted the title of “Duke Li of Shaoling.” Cao Fang did not have any known descendants.