Tao Qian 陶謙 was the Inspector of Xu province. He earned the ire of Cao Cao when men under his command killed Cao Cao's father, Cao Song.


When Yellow Turbans attack Xu province, Tao Qian was nominated to be Inspector of Xu. Tao Qian took control of Xu and rid it of Yellow Turbans.

Battle of Xu ProvinceEdit

After Cao Cao had established himself in Yan province, he summoned his father from Langye commandery in Xu. Cao Song brought with him an enormous baggage train, which consisted of over 100 carts. As he was passing through Xu, men under Tao Qian's command attacked Cao Song to steal his belongings. Cao Song was killed as was his son, Cao De.

Accounts of Tao Qian's culpability vary depending on the source:

  • HHS 73/63 has, a detachment of Tao Qian's troops not under his direct command.
  • Wu Shu says, Tao Qian sent 200 men to escort Cao Song, but they betrayed and murdered Cao Song.
  • Wei-Jin says, Tao Qian sent several thousand troops to assault Cao Song

But whatever the case, Cao Cao definitely blamed Tao Qian for his father's death.

Cao Cao stormed Xu province, and Tao Qian fled to Tan city to take refuge.

Tao Qian grew seriously ill and before he died, he told his Aide-de-Camp Mi Zhu to give the position to Liu Bei. He said: "No-one but Liu Bei can ever give peace to this province."



Fact vs. FictionEdit
  • de Crespigny, Rafe. To Establish Peace. Vol. 1. Canberra: Faculty of Asian Studies, The Australian National University, 1996. 2 vols.