Not to be confused with Dong Zhuo.

Dong Zhao
Dong Zhao (ROTK12)
Character Information
Force(s): Han
Yuan Shao's Forces
Zhang Yang's Forces
Weapon Type: Sword (6)
Iron fan (7)
Throwing knives (8)
Spear (9)
Unit Type: Strategist
Significant Battle(s):
First Appearance: Dynasty Warriors 6
Historical Information
Real name:
Dǒng Zhāo
Chinese name:
Style name:
Chinese name:

Dong Zhao (onyomi: Tō Shō) is a minister who serves the Kingdom of Wei. He is famous for his suggestion to move the Han capital to Xuchang as well as proposing that Cao Cao should take the title of Duke of Wei.

Role in GamesEdit

Dong Zhao is a minor officer during mid and late Wei battles. He can often be seen during the battles of Chibi and Fan Castle. During the sixth installment, he appears up to the final battles at the Wu Zhang Plains and He Fei Castle. The eighth installment and its expansion have him appear more frequently under Cao Cao's forces during battles against Shu and Wu.

His Romance of the Three Kingdoms counterpart is given high intelligence and politics stats. Later scenarios have him as one of Cao Cao's highest ranked officials. His skill in the eleventh installment is a reference to his building of canals during the Wuhuan campaign and allows quicker movement of his transport units.

Historical InformationEdit

A man from Dingtao in Yan Province, Dong Zhao became a magistrate in Ji Province in the 180's. Jia Cong, the governor of Ji in 187, conducted some reforms and treated local officers harshly. Dong Zhao was one of the few men who retained their position.

He eventually entered Yuan Shao's service after Dong Zhuo took over the capital. In 192, Yuan Shao battled Gongsun Zan for control over Ji and numerous nobles under the leadership of Sun Kang intended to defect to the rival warlord in Julu. Dong Zhao was sent to deal with them and, when Yuan Shao asked him about his plans, Dong Zhao said he would adapt to the situation. Having arrived at Julu, Dong Zhao claimed that bandits would be threatening the commandery and proclaimed a state of emergency. This enabled him to execute Sun Kang and thirty other nobles and regain control over the area.

Dong Zhao was sent to Wei commandery where the Grand Administrator had been killed by bandits. With the help of some merchants, Dong Zhao ambushed the bandits and defeated them. Shortly afterwards, Dong Zhao ran into trouble with Yuan Shao. Since his brother, Dong Fang, served under the rebelling Zhang Miao, Yuan Shao suspected Dong Zhao of disloyalty. Dong Zhao decided to flee to the west in an attempt to meet with the Emperor in Chang'an, but he was captured en route by Zhang Yang, who detained him for his ties with Yuan Shao, and forced him to surrender. Dong Zhao was then appointed Commandant of the Cavalry.

Later that year, Cao Cao had defeated a vast army of Yellow Turban rebels in Yan Province and attempted to make contact with the Emperor, sending a letter. Cao Cao's messenger was captured by Zhang Yang, but Dong Zhao stepped in and told Zhang Yang that it would be best to seek Cao Cao's friendship since he was an extraordinary man. Zhang Yang agreed and allowed the messenger to continue to Chang'an, while Dong Zhao himself sent letters to Li Jue and his allies, complementing them. In 195, the Emperor fled from Chang'an and Zhang Yang was one of those offering protection, allowing Dong Zhao to join the Emperor's camp. They all gathered at the destroyed former capital Luoyang. One year later, Cao Cao sent Cao Hong to collect the Emperor's party, but the defenders blocked the mountain passes. Dong Zhao claimed that Yang Feng, while having the strongest army, did not have any allies. Thus, he wrote a letter, claiming it was from Cao Cao, which read:

Vin1 Knowing your reputation and admiring your fine deeds, I offer you my full and sincere friendship. You saved the Emperor from his difficulties and have returned his court to the old capital. Your achievement in his support can be matched by no other. How excellent that is! At this time there are masses of wicked men making trouble in China, and the four seas have no peace. The imperial throne is the most important thing, and all our work must be devoted to its protection and support. Now is the time for all men of good will to clear the imperial way, but such a task is more than one can manage alone. Truly the heart and the belly and the four limbs depend upon each other, and if one is absent, it will surely be missed. You be master on the inside, and I shall be your ally abroad. I have supplies and you have troops; we complement each other. Live or die, let us act together. Vin2

Yang Feng was persuaded and spoke to the other lords in Cao Cao's favor, allowing him to become the new protector of the Emperor. Cao Cao learned of Dong Zhao's role in the taking of the Emperor and invited him, discussing many affairs with him. Dong Zhao supported Xun Yu's advice to relocate the capital to Xuchang. He then advised Cao Cao to tell Yang Feng that the moving of the capital had to be done since Luoyang ran out of food. Still, Yang Feng attempted to intercept the party, but was unable to catch up with them.

In 198, Zhang Yang was killed by his officer Yang Chou. Dong Zhao managed to persuade two of his former subjects, Miao Shang and Xue Hong, to surrender to Cao Cao instead of Yuan Shao. One year later, Dong Zhao was among those who warned Cao Cao about sending Liu Bei to deal with Yuan Shu. Indeed, Liu Bei would use this chance to not only leave Cao Cao, but also kill his Inspector of Xu Province, Che Zhou. Cao Cao eventually drove Liu Bei out of Xu and appointed Dong Zhao as Governor of Xu. However, Yuan Shao attacked Cao Cao at Guandu shortly afterwards. Dong Zhao was appointed Administrator of Wei Commandery and assisted in the defense of Guandu.

In 204, Cao Cao besieged Yuan Shang's capital of Ye. Yuan Shang's Administrator of Wei Commandery, Yuan Chuqing, was among the defenders. Since the latter's father Yuan Yuanzhang had been brought into the Imperial Court by Cao Cao, Dong Zhao sent a letter to Yuan Chuqing, persuading him to defect. After the capture of Ye, Dong Zhao continued to serve in the northern campaigns. Before the assault on the Wuhuan at White Wolf Mountain, Dong Zhao commanded the construction of canals in the area to easen the transport of supplies. For his contributions, he was made a marquis after the campaign.

There are debates on the events that happened in the year 212. According to Yuan Wei's Chronicles of Emperor Xian, Dong Zhao advised Cao Cao to name himself King of Wei, while Xun Yu objected the advice, displeasing Cao Cao. Rafe de Crespigny uses Dong Zhao's Sanguozhi biography to state that Dong Zhao advised Cao Cao to alter the system of ranks within the Han Empire, using an older system that would allow him to become Duke without taking a rank of the Imperial Family. Cao Cao seemed to have adopted the plan despite objection from Xun Yu. No matter what version is true, Cao Cao eventually became Duke.

In 215, Cao Cao attacked Zhang Lu in Hanzhong. Dong Zhao sent a memorial to the Emperor and presented the events of Cao Cao's victory at Yangping Pass in a rather strange way. According to Pei Songzhi, the memorial read:

Vin1 When Cao Cao, took Liang province and Wudu, the people surrendered. They said, Zhang Lu is easy to attack. The mountains north and south of Yangping are far apart. The pass is indefensible. Taking this to be true Cao Cao advanced to Yangping. When he arrived he saw that this was not true and sighed, When other people discuss plans they seldom see it the way one does oneself. When he attacked Yangping it was very difficult and he had to pull back. Many soldiers were injured or killed. Emperor Wu's plans were ruined and he desired to pull out, regroup, then return. He sent the Grand General Xiahou Dun and general Xu Chu to call back the soldiers on the mountain. They did not return but instead got lost in the night. They stumbled upon Zhang Wei's camp and the bandits scattered and fled. Palace Attendant, Xin Pi, and Liu Ye at the rear of the troops reported to Xiahou Dun and Xu Chu, Our government troops have taken the chief camps of the enemy, and the rebels are running away. The generals could not believe it. Xiahou Dun went to see it himself, then reported to Cao Cao. Thereupon they sent the troops to attack and thoroughly routed them. This account is all that I know. Vin2

During Guan Yu's attack on Fan Castle, Cao Cao and Sun Quan renewed their alliance with Sun Quan asking Cao Cao to keep it a secret. Dong Zhao motioned for his lord to agree but inform the defenders that Sun Quan would attack Guan Yu. Hearing that, Guan Yu would lift the siege and return to Jing to fight Sun Quan. Cao Cao accepted the plan, but it did not work as intended. Guan Yu did not believe that Sun Quan would attack him and continued the siege, later being defeated by reinforcements from Xu Huang.

Cao Cao passed away one year later and Cao Pi established the Wei Dynasty. Dong Zhao was promoted to Court Architect and later in 222 to Palace Attendant and Minister Herald. Cao Pi started an invasion of Wu the same year and Cao Xiu asked for permission to cross the Yangtze river. Dong Zhao supported the plan, stating that Cao Xiu would need the support of the other generals to cross but the generals were reluctant to do so, which happened to be the case. Shortly afterwards, a storm destroyed the advancing Wu fleet, allowing Cao Xiu to score a victory at Dongkou. Later, Dong Zhao advised Cao Pi to recall Xiahou Shang from his attack on Jiangling, avoiding a flood that would have destroyed much of his army.

Dong Zhao eventually rose to Minister over the Masses. In 230, he sent a memorial to Cao Rui, criticizing a group of scholars that was gaining much influence within the court. The memorial read:

Vin1 Of all those who have ruled over the empire there has been none who did not appreciate men of simplicity and truthfulness, and profoundly dislike those who were false and untruthful. This is because the latter would demolish good teachings, disturb good rule, destroy good custom, and injure good transformation. In recent years, Wei Feng was put to death at the end of the Jian'an period and Cao Wei suffered the punishment of death at the beginning of the Huangchu period. I respectfully observe that the sacred edicts, ancient and modern, expressed deep hatred for superficiality and falsity, to the extent of gnashing the teeth, the intention being to destroy and scatter wicked partisanship. Yet the officials in charge of the law all stand in fear of their power and influence, and so are unable to eliminate them. The destruction of good custom has thus reached an extreme degree.

I presume to observe that young men of our times do not consider study as their fundamental duty but make it their exclusive business to form associations. These gentlemen of the land do not take filial piety, brotherly affections, and the cultivation of character as the paramount matter, but put first running after the powerful and associating with those who might give them profit. They form groups and associate into parties, mutually praising and eulogizing; calumny and defamation are considered as capital punishment, partisan commendation and praise as rank and reward. Those who follow they praise vociferously; those who do not, they find fault with. They go so far as to say to each other, 'Why worry that we cannot make our lives and careers good? Worry only lest we should not be assiduous in the 'way' of searching out people and not extensive in spreading out out net. Why should any man worry that other people do not appreciate him? He only needs to make them swallow our medicine to make them affable.

I am also told there are those who even let their servants and retainers presumptuously assume official titles in their houses; and under these false titles they go to and from the palace, take letters back and forth, and make inquires. All these are things which laws do not permit and which are unpardonable with respect to punishment. Even the crimes of Wei Feng and Cao Wei are not worse than these.


Cao Rui chose to dismiss all of the officials. However, many of them would later be reinstated by Cao Shuang and become some of his closest advisers. Dong Zhao passed away in 236 and was named "Constant Marquis".

Romance of the Three KingdomsEdit

Romance of the Three Kingdoms gives Dong Zhao a minor advising role to Cao Cao. He first appears in chapter 14 as a messenger of the Emperor who was sent to Cao Cao. The latter was pleased to meet him and discussed their current situation with him. Dong Zhao stated that he knew the rebel leaders Yang Feng and Han Xian and that they were poor lot not worthy of Cao Cao's attention. He advised Cao Cao to move the capital to Xuchang and created a plan to make short work of Yang Feng and his band. He was then employed by Cao Cao. He makes a second appearance in chapter 61, when he advised Cao Cao that the title of Duke should be conferred upon him. Lastly, he appears in chapter 76, advising Cao Cao during the conflict at Fancheng. He proposed that a letter should be shot with an arrow into the castle to prevent the defenders from surrendering. After that, Guan Yu should be informed about Sun Quan's plans to attack Jing, forcing him to retreat and allowing Xu Huang to charge in his rear. Cao Cao agreed with the plan and sent a messenger to urge Xu Huang to attack.