Held in the Lonely Castle – Characters, Place Names & Rankings

Updated until: Chapter 1 Part 5 – In Progress


Main Characters

梁怀吉 Liang Huaiji (LHJ): ML of the series. A eunuch.

  • 怀(huái) means “to harbour or cherish” and 吉(jí) means “auspicious or lucky.”
  • Originally called 梁元亨 Liang Yuan Heng but was given a new name by Zhang Maoze since explaining his name would lead him to break the taboo of calling the reigning Emperor by name. Chp 1 Part 1, The Forbidden Palace Gates, explains the origin behind LHJ’s birth name.
  • Became a eunuch when he was 8 years old.

兖国公主 Princess Yan Guo, Huirou: FL of the series. Daughter of Emperor Renzong.

  • 兖(yǎn) means “to establish” and 国(guó) means “country or nation.”
  • Other titles: 福康公主 Princess Fukang


Emperor (皇帝)

  • 宋仁宗 Emperor Renzhong
    • Also referred to as 今上, 官家

Empress (皇后)

  • 皇后, 曹氏 Empress Cao

Consorts (妃)

Imperial Concubines (嫔)

  • 苗昭容 Zhaorong Miao
    • Birth Mother of Huirou (MC)

Jieyu (婕妤)

  • 俞婕妤 Jieyu Yu
    • Seems to be on good terms with Zhaorong Miao

Beautiful Ladies (美人)

  • 张美人 Beautiful Lady Zhang
    • Birth Mother of  幼悟 Youwu (Her 8th daughter)
      • Dharma name: 保慈崇祐大师 Master of Protection, Kindness, Honour and Blessings

Talented Ladies (才人)


Eunuchs (By Rank)

两省都都知 – Dual Department Head Chamberlain

都都知 – Superior Omniscent Chamberlain

都知 – Omniscent Chamberlain

  • 张惟吉 Zhang Weiji: Omniscient Chamberlain of the Interior Department (内内侍省 都知)

副都知 – Assistant Omniscent Chamberlain

  • 任守忠 Ren Shouzhong: A high-ranking eunuch. Invited to teach by Liang Quanyi.
    • *Guessing his rank

押班 – Custodial Team Member

内东头供奉官 – Head Servitor of the Eastern Interior

  • 张茂则 Zhang Maoze: Supervisor Official for the Inner Eastern Gate. Invited to teach by Liang Quanyi. Saved LHJ’s life and bestowed him with a new name.
    • Courtesy name: Pingfu
    • *Guessing his rank

内西头供奉官 – Head Servitor of the Western Interior

内侍殿头 – Building Manager

  • 梁全一 Liang Quanyi: LHJ’s teacher for court etiquette and palace regulations. A kindly eunuch who treats him well.

内侍高品 – First-Class Eunuch

内侍高班 – Senior Eunuch

内侍黄门 – Junior Eunuch

  • 张承照 Zhang Chengzhao: LHJ’s peer from the Hanlin Classical Institute. His ‘senior’ in the palace despite being two years younger.

内侍小黄门 – Apprentice Eunuch

  • Where MC and Zhang Chengzhao started off in c1 pt 2

Other Officials

崔白 Cui Bai: An Apprentice Painter in the Fine Arts Institute. He teaches LHJ to paint.

  • Courtesy name: Zixi

Place Names

This post is quickly turning into my catch-call list for all the different departments within the palace, not just those that appear in Held in the Lonely Castle.

东京 The East Capital: The capital city of this novel. This refers to modern-day Kaifeng City in the Henan Province of China. Here is a map of it’s location during the Song Dynasty.

皇城 The Imperial City: The inner part of Beijing with the Imperial Palace at its centre. This area mainly consists of institutions and facilities serving the court and the offices of the court such as the Hanlin Academy.

Palace Gates

西华门 Xi Hua Gate or the West Glorious Gate: The western outer gate of the Forbidden City.

右掖门 Right Side Gate

右长庆门 Right Gate of Eternal Celebration

右嘉肃门 Right Gate of Fine Reverence

右银台门 Right Silver Terrace Gate

皇仪门 The Gate of Imperial Rites

垂拱门 The Gate of Imparting Respect

Departments Within the Palace

See Chp 1 Pt 2 for an explanation of each office’s function 🙂

中书省 The Central Secretariat – See Ancient Ranks and Titles

尚书省 The Department of State Affiairs – See Ancient Ranks and Titles

  • 尚书内省 – The Department of Internal Affairs – A department composed of female officials (女官) that were charged with the administrative aspects of managing the Imperial Harem. They wore uniforms like their male official counterparts but could also become concubines in the Imperial Harem if he took a fancy to them. Example: The drama Legend of Lu Zhen (陆贞传奇).

门下省 The Chancellery – See Ancient Ranks and Titles

  • 门下后省 The Inner Chancellery 

枢密院 The Privy Council

国史院 The Institute of National History

皇城司 The Imperial Palace Department

  • May have been known in other dynasties by:
    • 内务府 Imperial Household Department
    • 禁城司 Imperial Household Bureau
  • 尚食局 The Imperial Kitchen: This is the department that deals with food in the imperial palace.
  • 浣衣局 The Laundry Department: a common department to banish servants or even concubines who have lost favour; known for being a place of hard labour.

入内内侍省 Interior Department of Service

  • Also known as 后省、北司 The Interior Department, the Northern Office
  • Other translations: The Department of Inner Palace Affairs

Bureaus Under the Interior Department

  • 御药院 The Imperial Pharmacy
  • 内东门司 The Office of the Inner East Gate
    • Other translations: The Inner Palace East Gate Bureau
  • 合同凭由司 The Auditing Bureau (Full: The Imperial Requisition Verification and Auditing Bureau)
  • 龙图、于昌、宝文阁
    • 龙图阁 The Dragon Diagram Hall of the Imperial Archives
    • 于昌阁 = 天章阁 Hall of Heavenly Manifestation
    • 宝文阁 Pavillion of Treasured Classics of the Hanlin Institute.

内侍省 [Exterior] Department of Service [1]Lit. translations is just “The Department of Service” but that could be confusing so I added [Exterior] for clarification.

  • Also known as 前省、南班 The Exterior Department, the Southern Office

Bureaus Under the Exterior Department

  • 翰林院 (hànlín yuàn) Hanlin Imperial Academy
    • 天文局/天文院 The Astronomy Institute
    • 书艺局/书院 The Classical Institute
    • 图画局/画院 The Fine Arts Institute
    • 医官局/医院 The Medical Institute
    • Other Units:
      • 琴院 The Zither Institute
      • 棋院 The Chess Institute
      • 玉院 The Jade Institute
  • 管勾往来国信所 State Credentials Verification Bureau
  • 后苑 Imperial Grounds Division
  • 造作所 The Imperial Workshop
  • 军头引见司 The Military Reception Division
    • This was an office unique to the Song Dynasty
    • Originally two departments: 军头司 the Bureau of Junior Army Officers and 引见司 the Bureau of Military Reception

Palaces/Royal Residences

柔仪殿 Hall of Gentle Countenance/Rouyi Hall where the Empress lives.

垂拱殿 Hall of Imparting Respect

福宁殿 Hall of Tranquil Blessings

Eunuch Rankings

These are my own translations of the titles. There may be others out there.

Ranked highest to lowest

  1. 两省都都知 – Dual Department Head Chamberlain
  2. 都都知 – Superior Omniscent Chamberlain
  3. 都知 – Omniscent Chamberlain
  4. 副都知 – Assistant Omniscent Chamberlain
  5. 押班 – Custodial Team Member [2]Group responsible for detaining, escorting, guarding, and meting out punishment.
  6. 内东头供奉官 – Head Servitor of the Eastern Interior
  7. 内西头供奉官 – Head Servitor of the Western Interior
  8. 内侍殿头 – Building Manager
  9. 内侍高品 – First-Class Eunuch
  10. 内侍高班 – Senior Eunuch
  11. 内侍黄门 – Junior Eunuch
  12. 内侍小黄门 – Apprentice Eunuch

Forms of Address for Eunuchs in the Song Dynasty

These titles are explained in the author’s note in chp 1 pt 3.

  • 内侍 – Eunuch
  • 内臣 – Chamberlain
  • 宦者 – Eunuch-Official
  • 中官 – Half-Official
  • 中贵人 – Half-Emminence (used by people outside the palace)

Scholar Rankings Within the Fine Arts Institute

Ranked highest to lowest from chp 1 pt 3.

  1. 供奉 – Imperial Servitor
  2. 祗侯 – Master Artisan
  3. 艺学 – Apprentice Artisan
  4. 待诏 – Scholar Awaiting Imperial Appointment (Seems to be a universal rank across institutes within Hanlin Academy.)
  5. 画学正 – Established Painter
  6. 画学生 – Apprentice Painter


  • 勾当官 – Supervisor Official – It seems to be a title used by both scholars and eunuchs.


Translator Notes

1Lit. translations is just “The Department of Service” but that could be confusing so I added [Exterior] for clarification.
2Group responsible for detaining, escorting, guarding, and meting out punishment.

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