(formally Empress Mingdao)
Empress shown at the bottom of this painting
Empress Zhen (died 22 August 251), personal name unknown, formally known as Empress Huai (懷皇后), was an empress of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China. She was the first wife of Cao Fang, the third emperor of Cao Wei.
Not much is known about her, other than that her grandfather, Zhen Yan (甄儼), was a brother of Lady Zhen, the mother of Cao Rui (the second emperor of Wei). Cao Fang created her empress in 243. She died in 251 and was buried with honors befitting an empress. (The reason her posthumous name was one character rather than two was that her husband was eventually deposed in 254, and therefore never given a posthumous name; the customs at the time generally dictated that the empress’ posthumous name share one character with their husbands’.)
Empress shown in the middle of this painting
Empress Zhang (fl.250 – 254), personal name unknown, was an empress of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China. She was the second wife of Cao Fang, the third emperor of Cao Wei.
Not much is known about her, other than her grandfather Zhang Ji (張既) was a governor of Liang Province (covering roughly present-day Gansu) and that her father Zhang Ji (張緝; note different Chinese character for Ji) was a commandery administrator. She was created empress in 252; at that time, her grandfather was already deceased, while her father was promoted to senior minister. (It is unclear whether she was an imperial consort before she was created empress.)
In 254, the regent Sima Shi killed Cao Fang’s confidant, the official Li Feng (a friend of Zhang Ji). He then falsely accused Li Feng, Zhang Ji and their friend Xiahou Xuan of treason, and had all of them and their clans executed. One month later, Cao Fang was forced to depose Empress Zhang. It is not known what her fate was, although it would appear likely that she was put under house arrest for the rest of her life but not executed along with the rest of her family.
Empress shown at the top of this painting
Empress Wang (fl.250 – 254), personal name unknown, was an empress of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China. She was the third wife of Cao Fang, the third emperor of Cao Wei.
Very little is known about her, other than that she was the daughter of Wang Kui (王夔), the director of imperial transportation. She was created empress in May or June 254, after Cao Fang’s second wife Empress Zhang was deposed in light of false accusations of treason levied against her father Zhang Ji (張緝) by the regent Sima Shi. It is not known whether Empress Wang was previously an imperial consort.
Later in 254, Cao Fang considered a coup against Sima Shi, and while he ultimately did not carry out the plan, the news leaked. Sima Shi then deposed him and demoted him to the title of “Prince of Qi” (which he held during his father Cao Rui’s reign) in October 254. What happened to Empress Wang is not known, although presumably she was allowed to have the title of the Princess of Qi. Nothing further is said about her in the official histories.
Spouse: Cao Fang
Cao Fang (232–274), courtesy name Lanqing, was the third emperor of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period. He was an adopted son of Cao Rui, the second ruler of Wei. Cao Fang ruled from January 239 to October 254 as a nominal emperor before he was deposed by the regent Sima Shi, after which he became known as the “Prince of Qi”. After the fall of Wei in February 266, Cao Fang was conferred the title of “Duke of Shaoling” by Emperor Wu of the Jin dynasty. When he died in 274, he was granted the posthumous name “Li”, so his full posthumous title became “Duke Li of Shaoling”.