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

Updated until: Chapter 2 Part 2 – 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. Chapter 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 Fu’kang; 福(fú) means “auspicious” and 康(kāng) means “health.”
  • 福康公主 乳母, 韩氏 Ms. Han – Princess Fu’kang’s wet nurse


Emperor (皇帝)

  • 宋仁宗 Emperor Renzong
    • Also referred to as 今上, 官家
    • lives in 福宁殿 Hall of Tranquil Blessings

Empress (皇后)

  • 皇后, 曹氏 Empress Cao
    • lives in 柔仪殿 Hall of Gentle Countenance
    • Huirou calls her ‘Mother’ as per Song custom
    • 范姑娘 Miss Fan The Empress’ adopted daughter; Huirou’s playmate

Consorts (妃)

Imperial Concubines (嫔)

  • 苗昭容 Zhao’rong Miao
    • Birth Mother of Huirou (MC)
    • Huirou calls her as ‘Elder Sister’ as per Song custom

Jieyu (婕妤)

  • 俞婕妤 Jie’yu 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
    • 周姑娘 Miss Zhou – Beautiful Lady Zhang’s adopted daughter; Huirou’s playmate
    • 徐姑娘 Miss Xu – Beautiful Lady Zhang’s adopted daughter; Huirou’s playmate

Talented Ladies (才人)


僖简王, 赵允宁 Xijian Wang, Zhao Yunning

  • His daughter was originally chosen for the marriage alliance
  • 信安郡王 Junwang ruling over Xin’an County

Other Royalty

魏国大长公主 Wei Country’s Grand Princess Imperial

  • Emperor Taizong’s daughter (Second Emperor of the Song Dynasty)
  • Emperor Renzong’s paternal aunt and Princess Fu’kang’s grandaunt.

Eunuchs (By Rank HIGH –> LOW)

两省都都知 – Dual Department Head Chamberlain

都都知 – Superior Omniscient Chamberlain

都知 – Omniscient Chamberlain

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

副都知 – Assistant Omniscient Chamberlain

  • 任守忠 Ren Shouzhong: A high-ranking eunuch. Invited to teach by Liang Quanyi.
    • Assistant Omniscient Chamberlain for the Interior Department *Rank confirmed in Chapter 1 Part 6 – Nyamachi
    • Discovers Huaiji broke the colourful glazed cup bestowed by the Emperor

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


董秋和 Dong Qiuhe: Another friend of Cui Bai’s in the palace. He felt guilty about unknowingly having her eat hot property foods to achieve the look he desired to paint.

Other Officials

Hanlin Scholars

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

  • Courtesy name: Zixi

Court Ministers

贾昌朝 Jia Changchao: Official who wanted to educate the Hanlin Academy eunuchs so that they could help revise books in the Hall of Benevolence.

司马光 Sima Guang: The Imperial Censor that petitions for Huaiji’s execution.

  • As of Chapter 1 Part 6 –> 大理评事 A Case Reviewer in the Court of Judicial Review
  • Main antagonist (?)

孙甫 Sun Fu: Well-known historian for his critique on the dynastic history work, the Old Book of Tang.

庞籍 Pang Ji: Friend of Sima Guang.

  • 枢密副使 Deputy Military Affairs Commissioner
  • Works in the Privy Council

富弼 Fu Bi: Selected as an envoy to Khitan

  • Originally the 知制诰 Official Transcriber of Imperial Decrees
  • Assigned as the 接伴使 Welcoming Commissioner for the Khitan envoys
  • Later conferred as 礼部员外郎 Deputy Director of the Ministry of Rites and 枢密直学士 Privy Counsellor, but he declined

贾昌朝 Jia Changzhao: Paired with Fu Bi to welcome the Knitan envoys

  • 馆伴(使) Hospitality Commissioner 

From Khitan

梁王, 耶律洪基 Liang Wang, Yelu Hongji

  • 契丹皇 长子 Eldest son of the Khitan Emperor

萧英 Xiao Ying: Khitan envoy from the Southern Court of Palace Provisions

  • 宣徽南院使 Commissioner from the 宣徽南院 Southern Court of the Palace Provisions Commission
  • A Hanlin Scholar



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.

*Some of these are the actual English place names while many are purely my translation.  – Nyamachi

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 its 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 Imperial 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 Chapter 1 Part 2 for an explanation of each office’s function 🙂

中书省 The Central Secretariat – See Ancient Ranks and Titles.

  • 中书后省 – The Inner Secretariat

中书門下 The Secretariat-Chancellery: Responsible for the administration of civil affairs.

尚书省 The Department of State Affairs/The Imperial Secretariat – See Ancient Ranks and Titles

尚书内省 The Department of Internal AffairsA department composed of female officials (女官) that were charged with the administrative aspects of managing the Imperial Harem. Mirroring the Imperial Court (Outer Court), their department was divided into six ministries. They wore uniforms like their male official counterparts but could also become concubines in the Imperial Harem if the Emperor took a fancy to them. Naturally, their status would change to being an imperial concubine instead of a Female Official. See my post on Ancient Ranks and Titles for more specifics.
Example: The Chinese drama 陆贞传奇 [Legend of Lu Zhen] shows an example of what life as a female official was like.
Mentions: Chapter 1 Part 4, Chapter 1 Part 6

  •  They wore uniforms like their male official counterparts but they could also become concubines in the Imperial Harem if he took a fancy to them.*I’m guessing where some of these departments go – Nyamachi

Bureaus Under the Ministry of Internal Affairs

  • 尚宫局 The General Palace Service
    • 尚药局 Imperial Pharmacy: Distinct from 御药院 The Imperial Medicine Institute. It’s the main institution responsible for administering medicine.
  • 尚儀局 The Imperial Ceremonial Service
    • 尚辇局 The Imperial Transportation Service: It literally refers to the Emperor’s palanquin. I imagine that this service would handle anything from sedan chairs to carriages, but maybe not horses.
  • 尚服局 The Imperial Wardrobe Service
    • 司饰司 The Style Bureau: Responsible for creams and oils, bathing, fabric, hairstyles, outfits, and other ornaments.
    • 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. Most likely under the jurisdiction of the Imperial Wardrobe Service.
  • 尚食局 The Imperial Food Service
    • 尚酝局 The Imperial Brewery
  • 尚寢局 The Imperial Housekeeping Service
  • 尚功局 The Imperial Workshop Service

门下省 The Chancellery – See Ancient Ranks and Titles

  • 门下后省 The Inner Chancellery 

秘书省 The Imperial Archives: The institution specializing in managing the national collection of books in the empire. This is also where the modern term, secretary 秘书, comes from. Basically the ancient version of a national library.

The Four Libraries 四馆

  • 崇文院 Hall of Sacred Texts: Originally a school for Imperial Princes during the Tang Dynasty, it became a library in Song Dynasty. In charge of religious texts in the Eastern Palace.
    • 秘阁 The Imperial Bureau of Information: Built inside the main hall of the Hall of Sacred Texts. It was another repository for books or pieces of art — possibly only on the surface. The Chinese drama 大宋少年志 [Young Blood] portrayed it as a secret intelligence organization.
  • 昭文馆 Hall of Courtly Etiquette: Contained detailed artwork and books teaching students about the evolution of the court system and the importance of etiquette.
  • 史馆 Hall of Historical Records
  • 集贤院 Academy of Scholarly Virtues: Ancient university/An academy of classical learning.

枢密院 The Privy Council/Department of Military Affairs: Oversees administration of the military.

国史院 The Institute of National History

迩英阁 Hall of Adjacent Talent – a name coined from the phrase “Justice is ensured near heroic/outstanding individuals.” [义取亲近英才]

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

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 Medical Institute: This was originally a department within the Imperial Pharmacy. Emperor Taizong renamed it the Imperial Medical Institute and reclassified it under the Interior Department. Both the Imperial Pharmacy and the Imperial Medical Institute served the Imperial Household.
  • 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 Imperial Academy.

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 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: Distinct from the two medical institutes above.
    • 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

大理寺 The Court of Judicial Review > 詳刑寺 The Court for Reviewing Punishments > 司刑寺 The Court for Supervision of Punishments > 大理寺 ^ Reflects the name changes this office underwent prior to the Song Dynasty. I believe it was renamed again either during or after Emperor Renzong’s reign.

御库 The Imperial Treasury

Palaces/Royal Residences

殿 can mean “Hall” or “Palace”. I’m using Hall here, but it could very well be a palace. I’m just much more used to seeing “Palace” as 宫.

柔仪殿 Hall of Gentle Countenance where the Empress lives aka. 中宫.

垂拱殿 Hall of Imparting Respect

福宁殿 Hall of Tranquil Blessings where the Emperor lives.

资善堂 Hall of Benevolence where Song Dynasty Imperial Princes studied

东宫 The Eastern Palace where the Crown Prince lives

Places in the Inner Palace

仪凤阁 Yearning Phoenix Pavilion

后苑 Back Garden

  • 瑶津池 Jade Ford Pond

Places Mentioned Within Great Song

歙州 She Prefecture – Home to the Li clan who are known for their ink stones

谯郡 Qiao Prefecture – source of blue crepe fabric

相州 Xiang Prefecture – source of hazy peony-embroidered gauze

“关南地” “land south of the mountain pass” 

州, Ying Prefecture and 莫州 Mo Prefecture – the Khitan covet these lands; want to reclaim what was once theirs

Places Associated with Khitan

澶渊之盟 Chanyuan Treaty

宣徽南院 Southern Court of the Palace Provisions Commission 

  • Xiao Xing (Khitan envoy) is a Commissioner from here



Eunuch Rankings

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

Ranked highest to lowest

  1. 两省都都知 – Dual Department Head Chamberlain
  2. 都都知 – Superior Omniscient Chamberlain
  3. 都知 – Omniscient Chamberlain
  4. 副都知 – Assistant Omniscient 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 Chapter 1 Part 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 Chapter 1 Part 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 Imperial 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.


What's your reaction?

Loading spinner

Share your thoughts!

This website uses the awesome plugin.