Cao Cao (155 A.D – 15 March 220 A.D) courtesy name Mengde, was a warlord and the penultimate Grand Chancellor of China of the Eastern Han dynasty who rose to great power in the final years of the Han dynasty. As one of the central figures of the Three Kingdoms period, he laid the foundations for what was to become the state of Cao Wei and ultimately the Jin dynasty, and was posthumously honoured as "Emperor Wu of Wei". He is often portrayed as a cruel and merciless tyrant in subsequent literature; however, he has also been praised as a brilliant ruler and military genius who treated his subordinates like his family.
During the fall of the Eastern Han dynasty, Cao Cao was able to secure the most populated and prosperous cities of the central plains and the unification of northern China. Cao Cao had much success as the Han chancellor, but his handling of the Han Emperor Xian was heavily criticised and resulted in a continued and then escalated civil war. Opposition directly gathered around warlords Liu Bei and Sun Quan, whom Cao Cao was unable to quell.
Cao Cao was also skilled in Chinese poetry, calligraphy and martial arts and wrote many war journals.
In 220, Cao Cao died in Luoyang at the age of 65, having failed to unify China under his rule. His will instructed that he be buried near Ximen Bao's tomb in Ye.
He can be comparable to Qin Shi Huang, the first Chinese emperor of the Qin dynasty.