Wu Zhi
Palace Attendant (侍中)
In office
MonarchCao Rui
General Who Inspires Might
In office
? (?)–230 (230)
MonarchCao Pi / Cao Rui
North General of the Household
In office
220 (220)–? (?)
MonarchCao Pi
Prefect of Yuancheng (元城令)
In office
? (?)–? (?)
MonarchEmperor Xian of Han
Chief of Zhaoge (朝歌長)
In office
? (?)–? (?)
MonarchEmperor Xian of Han
Personal details
Dingtao County, Shandong
OccupationOfficial, general
Courtesy nameJizhong (季重)
Posthumous nameMarquis Wei (威侯)

Wu Zhi (177—230), courtesy name Jizhong, was an official and military general of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China.


Wu Zhi was born in a poor family in Jiyin Commandery (濟陰郡), which is around present-day Dingtao County, Shandong. He became a close aide of Cao Pi, the eldest surviving son of the warlord Cao Cao, who controlled the Han central government and the figurehead Emperor Xian in the late Eastern Han dynasty. During this time, he served as the Chief () of Zhaoge County (朝歌縣) and Prefect () of Yuancheng County (元城縣).

Wu Zhi helped Cao Pi in his rivalry against his brother, Cao Zhi, for the right to succeed their father. In 214, Cao Cao was departing on campaign, and Cao Zhi made a splendid speech, full of praise for his father’s achievements and virtues. Everyone admired him, and Cao Pi felt quite at a loss, but his friend Wu Zhi whispered, “As the king is about to leave, weep,” Cao Pi followed his advice, shedding tears as he bowed in farewell, and all in attendance wept in sympathy. Some now felt that though Cao Zhi was a fine orator, he lacked true feeling. In 215, after Wu Zhi had taken up a post in Henei, Cao Pi turned to him again for support and advice, and Wu Zhi returned to see him at Ye city, hidden in a basket in a cart. This was quite against regulations, and Yang Xiu found out and reported the offence to Cao Cao. Though Cao Cao did not investigate immediately, Cao Pi was seriously worried. Wu Zhi reassured him, however, and on the follow- ing day he had another load sent in, this time with a basket of silk. The guards inspected it but found nothing untoward, so Cao Pi was cleared and Cao Cao began to have doubts about Yang Xiu.[1]

In 220, following Cao Cao's death, Cao Pi usurped the throne from Emperor Xian, ended the Eastern Han dynasty and established the state of Cao Wei with himself as the emperor. Cao Pi then appointed Wu Zhi as North General of the Household (北中郎將) and granted him imperial authority to supervise military affairs in You and Bing provinces. Later, Wu Zhi was promoted to General Who Inspires Might (振威將軍) and put in charge of overseeing military affairs in the Hebei region.

In 230, during the reign of Cao Pi's successor Cao Rui, Wu Zhi was reassigned to be a Palace Attendant (侍中). He died in the same year. After his death, some officials suggested to Cao Rui to give him a negative-sounding posthumous title, "Marquis Chou" (醜侯; "ugly marquis"), because Wu Zhi used his close friendship with Cao Pi to gain power and status. Although Cao Rui initially agreed, he later changed Wu Zhi's posthumous title to "Marquis Wei" (威侯) after Wu Zhi's son, Wu Ying (吳應), convinced him that the posthumous title did not befit his father.


Around 217, before Cao Cao left for the Hanzhong Campaign, Cao Zhi sang praises of his father while seeing him off and earned much favour from his father. Cao Pi, feeling uneasy that Cao Zhi had stolen the limelight, turned to Wu Zhi for advice. Wu Zhi instructed Cao Pi to cry while seeing his father off. Cao Pi did so and touched the hearts of many people, who felt that Cao Pi was much more sincere in expressing his emotions as compared to Cao Zhi. In another incident, Wu Zhi did not want to be seen as being too close to Cao Pi, so he sneaked into Cao Pi's residence by hiding in a silk hamper. When Yang Xiu, Cao Zhi's close friend and adviser, heard about it, he reported it to Cao Cao. Wu Zhi, knowing that Yang Xiu knew his trick, stopped sneaking into Cao Pi's residence and he instructed Cao Pi to refill the hamper with silk. When Cao Cao and Yang Xiu came to investigate, they did not find Wu Zhi hiding inside the hamper, so Cao Cao became very displeased with Yang Xiu.

In 224, Cao Pi ordered Wu Zhi to host a banquet in his residence to celebrate Cao Zhen's return from a campaign. During the banquet, Wu Zhi instructed actors to put up a skit to make fun of Cao Zhen and Zhu Shuo (朱鑠), who were fat and thin respectively. Cao Zhen turned furious and he shouted at Wu Zhi, "Are you and your men seeking a fight with me and my men?" Cao Hong and Wang Zhong egged Wu Zhi on by saying, "If you want to make the General (Cao Zhen) admit that he is fat, you have to show that you're thin." Cao Zhen drew his sword, glared at them and said, "I'll kill whoever dares to mock me." Wu Zhi also drew his sword and insulted Cao Zhen by saying, "Cao Zidan, you're not meat under a butcher's cleaver. My throat won't tremble when I swallow you and my teeth won't chatter when I chew on you. How dare you behave so rudely!" Zhu Shuo stood up and tried to reduce tensions by telling Wu Zhi, "His Majesty ordered you to host entertainment for everyone. Do you have to do this?" Wu Zhi then shouted at Zhu Shuo, "Zhu Shuo, how dare you leave your seat!" Everyone then returned to their seats. Zhu Shuo felt outraged but did not say anything, and returned to his seat and used his sword to hit the ground.[2]

See also


  1. ^ Crespigny, R de (2010). Imperial Warlord – A Biography of Cao Cao 155-220 AD. pp. 414–416.
  2. ^ (質別傳曰: ... 質黃初五年朝京師,詔上將軍及特進以下皆會質所,大官給供具。酒酣,質欲盡歡。時上將軍曹真性肥,中領軍朱鑠性瘦,質召優,使說肥瘦。真負貴,恥見戲,怒謂質曰:「卿欲以部曲將遇我邪?」驃騎將軍曹洪、輕車將軍王忠言:「將軍必欲使上將軍服肥,即自宜為瘦。」真愈恚,拔刀瞋目,言:「俳敢輕脫,吾斬爾。」遂罵坐。質案劒曰:「曹子丹,汝非屠机上肉,吳質吞爾不搖喉,咀爾不搖牙,何敢恃勢驕邪?」鑠因起曰:「陛下使吾等來樂卿耳,乃至此邪!」質顧叱之曰:「朱鑠,敢壞坐!」諸將軍皆還坐。鑠性急,愈恚,還拔劒斬地。遂便罷也。) Wu Zhi Biezhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 21.