Empress Mao (Ming)

Empress Mao (Ming)

Empress Mao (毛皇后, personal name unknown) (died 237), formally Empress Mingdao (明悼皇后, literally "the all-seeing and lamentable empress") was an empress of Cao Wei during China's Three Kingdoms Period. Her husband was Cao Rui (Emperor Ming).

Empress Mao became a concubine of Cao Rui's during the reign of his father, Cao Pi. Cao Rui was the Prince of Pingyuan at that time. She was not his wife or princess -- that status belonged to Lady Yu. However, Consort Mao was a favored consort of Cao Rui's.

When Cao Rui became emperor in 226 following his father's death, it was widely expected that Princess Yu, as his wife, would be created empress. However, Cao Rui created Consort Mao empress instead in 227. Even though her family was of low birth, her father Mao Jia (毛嘉), who was a carpenter, and brother Mao Zeng (毛曾) were promoted to honored posts, and Mao Jia was created a marquess. When Cao Rui became aware that the aristocratic families looked down at his father-in-law, he promoted Mao Jia further and ordered all important officials to attend feasts at the Mao residence.

However, as the years went by, Empress Mao began to lose Cao Rui's favor. By 237, Consort Guo had replaced her as Cao Rui's favorite. Once, when Cao Rui was attending a feast hosted by Consort Guo, Consort Guo requested that Empress Mao be invited to join as well, but Cao Rui refused and further ordered that no news about the feast is to be given to Empess Mao. However, the news leaked, and Empress Mao talked about the feast with him anyway. He became exceedingly angry, and killed a number of his attendants whom he suspected of leaking the news to Empress Mao, and, inexplicably, ordered Empress Mao to commit suicide, even though she was still buried with honors due an empress, and her family remained honored.

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