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Cao Shuang (onyomi: Sō Shō) is the son of Cao Zhen. After the death of Cao Rui, he and Sima Yi became regents of the child emperor Cao Fang with a decent amount of respect towards his skills. However, Cao Shuang tried to claim power for himself under He Yan's influence and temporarily eliminated Sima Yi from the government. After having suffered a great loss against Shu and when pushing his limits too far as a regent, Sima Yi and Sima Shi staged a coup against him. Cao Shuang was forced to turn all of his power to Sima Yi and was executed shortly afterwards.
Roles in GamesEdit
In Dynasty Warriors 7, Cao Shuang is shown as an incompetent man who spends most of his time with drinking and hunting, while probably being aware of his own inability. He and Sima Yi become regents of Cao Fang after Cao Rui's death, but Sima Yi decides to leave the public, making Cao Shuang the lone regent. Cao Shuang attempts an attack on Shu in order to restore Wei to its former glory. At Mt. Xingshi, he ignores the advice of Deng Ai and Sima Zhao to watch out for an enemy surprise attack and instead orders the two to attack Shu's supply depot. Once they arrive there, the Wei main camp is ambushed and Cao Shuang, admitting his fault, only escapes thanks to the efforts of his generals. Later, during one of his hunting trips, Sima Yi stages a coup d'état and corners Cao Shuang in Luoyang. In the throne room, Cao Shuang is defeated and says that what he did was right and that the generals would only unite under him. Sima Yi calls him an imbecile and Cao Shuang is slain by Sima Shi.
According to Dynasty Warriors Next, Cao Shuang held many lavish banquets in a misguided attempt to repair Wei's declining image. His indulgent lifestyle nearly exhausts the kingdom's treasury, causing the Sima clan to turn against him in their bid for power. He dies cursing Sima Yi as the latter censures him for shaming his forebears.
In Dynasty Warriors 8, Cao Shuang reprises his previous role in Jin's, but appears as a Wei officer in the hypothetical route of the other kingdoms. In the Xtreme Legends expansion, Cao Shuang manages to corner Sima Zhao, Sima Shi and Zhang Chunhua at Luoyang while Sima Yi is busy dealing with Gongsun Yuan. When the tide turns against him, especially with the loss of Xiahou Ba, he attempts to flee from the city, but Jia Chong appears and cuts off Cao Shuang's escape route.
The Romance of the Three Kingdoms games have Cao Shuang appear as a late Wei general. Although he is above average in politics, his other abilities leave much to be desired, indicating his supposed incompetence.
- "All my drinking, hunting, carousing - it is all for the future of Wei! You understand, I have to be seen as a strong leader!"
- "What I understand is that you have proven yourself to be a most unworthy leader. For the future of Wei, I must eliminate such an incompetent ruler."
- ~~Cao Shuang and Sima Yi; Dynasty Warriors 7
- "Is this some kind of joke? The formation you have ordered is not going to work. Are you trying to destroy Wei?"
- "No, my Lady! It is the attacking method of our founder, Lord Cao Cao. We are to face the enemy boldly, no matter what the circumstances."
- "Look at you trying to preserve a pointless custom... Such a silly man."
- ~~Zhang Chunhua and Cao Shuang; Dynasty Warriors 8
Cao Shuang was the oldest son of Cao Zhen. In 239 when Cao Rui neared death, he wanted to make Cao Yu, Cao Shuang, Xiahou Xian, Cao Zhao and Qin Lang regents of his son and designated successor Cao Fang. However, his subjects Sun Zi and Liu Fang were unfriendly with Cao Zhao and Xiahou Xian, so they persuaded him to make Cao Shaung and Sima Yi regents instead. Thus, Cao Shuang and his brothers Cao Xi and Cao Xun rose to power. However, Cao Shuang was inadequate for this job. When Cao Rui asked him if he could do it, he was so nervous that he couldn't speak, so Sima Yi had to step in and assure Cao Rui that they would do their best. Cao Shuang held a bit more power than Sima Yi as regent. When Sun Quan ordered Zhuge Ke to prepare an assault on Shouchun in 243, Sima Yi immediately led the Wei forces to the border. Sun Quan ordered Zhuge Ke to withdraw, increasing Sima Yi's popularity as the people cheered him for scaring away the large enemy force without a fight. In response, Cao Shuang persuaded Cao Fang to promote Sima Yi to the rank of Grand Tutor, leaving him with no military power at all.
Cao Shuang felt that he had to score a great victory as well to cement his authority, so he personally led a campaign against Shu one year later, a campaign Sima Yi opposed. After only two months, Cao Shuang was decisively defeated at Mt. Xingshi by Fei Yi and Wang Ping, losing over one hundred thousand troops in the campaign and barely escaping with his life. The defeat dealt a heavy blow to his popularity and increased Sima Yi's at the same time. In 247, Sima Yi stopped his political activities and retired, pretending to be ill and senile, in order to fool Cao Shuang into letting his guard down. Cao Shuang moved Empress Dowager Guo to Yongning Palace and kept her under house arrest, becoming the sole authority in the empire. In 248, he sent Li Sheng to Sima Yi to check on him. Li Sheng returned and told Cao Shuang that Sima Yi was indeed ill, so Cao Shuang drew his attention from Sima Yi away.
On January 6, 249, Cao Shuang and his brothers accompanied Cao Fang to pay respect to Cao Rui at Gaoping Tomb. Sima Yi then launched a coup d'état and took control of Luoyang, closing all gates and replacing Cao Shuang's and Cao Xi's positions with Gao Rou and Wang Guan. Sima Yi then went to Empress Dowager Guo and sought permission to arrest Cao Shuang. Huan Fan, one of Cao Shuang's advisers, managed to escape from Luoyang with the seal of authority. He met with Cao Shuang, who was on a hunting trip after paying his respect to Cao Rui, and told him of Sima Yi's coup. Cao Shuang was unsure what to do as his family was kept by Sima Yi. Eventually, Sima Yi sent Jiang Ji to assure Cao Shuang that neither he nor his family would be harmed if Cao Shuang surrendered. Cao Shuang agreed and gave up his power. Four days later, on January 10, Cao Shuang returned to Luoyang. Sima Yi had him arrested and executed him and his brother on charges of treason.
Romance of the Three KingdomsEdit
In the novel, Cao Shuang was made regent to Cao Fang by Cao Rui along with Sima Yi after being recommended by Sun Zi and Liu Fang. He was mentioned to be diligent, which is why he was favored by Cao Rui very much and had freedom in the palace. He treated Sima Yi with much deference and did nothing without informing him. However, once his associate He Yan mentioned how Sima Yi had treated his father Cao Zhen during the northern campaigns and eventually caused his death, Cao Shuang started to suddenly change. He promoted Sima Yi to a civil rank, taking military power from him and appointed his close family members and associates to the highest positions in the court. Furthermore, he and his friends started to live a luxurious life, spending their time with drinking, music, and hunting. His brother Cao Xi warned him about the dangers of such a lifestyle, but Cao Shuang ignored him, stating that he did not have anything to fear.
Eventually, he paid respect at the tomb of Cao Rui with his brothers and Cao Fang when he was informed about Sima Yi's coup in the capital. He was hesitant and did not listen to the advice of his companions, though Sima Yi's associates Chen Tai and Xu Yun managed to convince him to surrender. Cao Shuang and his brothers were treated well at first, although being kept under house arrest and deemed their lives to be safe, only to be executed by Sima Yi shortly afterwards.