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HLC – Characters, Place Names & Rankings

Updated until: Chapter 3 Part 4

**To differentiate between characters who are alive and those who have passed away, characters deceased prior to the start of the novel will have their names in grey.


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. His name would lead him to break the taboo of calling the reigning Emperor by name. See Chapter 1, Part 1, The Forbidden Palace Gates, which explains the origin behind LHJ’s birth name.
  • Became a eunuch when he was 8 years old.
  • Current Rank : First-Class Eunuch
  • Promotions:

兖国公主, 徽柔 Princess Yan’guo/Princess of Yan Country, Huirou: FL of the series.

  • 兖(yǎn) means “to establish” and 国(guó) means “country or nation.”
  • Eldest daughter of Emperor Renzong; First Imperial Princess
  • Other titles: 福康公主 Princess Fu’kang; 福(fú) means “auspicious” and 康(kāng) means “health.”
  • Servants:
    • 福康公主 乳母, 韩氏 Ms. Han – Huirou’s wet nurse
    • 嘉庆子 Jiaqing Plums – Huirou’s maid
    • 笑靥儿 Smiling Dumplings – Huirou’s maid
    • 韵果儿 Sugar Charm – Huirou’s maid
    • 香橼子 Grapefruit – Huirou’s maid


*Character names are sorted by rank according to the imperial harem system of the Song Dynasty.

Empress Dowager (太后)

  • 章惠 太后 Empress Dowager Zhang’hui

Emperor (皇帝)

  • 宋 仁宗 Emperor Renzong of Song
    • Also referred to as 今上, 官家
    • 仁宗 Renzong is his regnal name.
    • Lives in 福宁殿 Hall of Tranquil Blessings
    • Raised by 章惠太后 Empress Dowager Zhang’hui

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 (Lady of Bright Countenance surnamed Miao)
    • Lives in 仪凤阁 Yearning Phoenix Pavilion
    • Birth Mother of Huirou (FL) and 皇子豫王昕 Prince Xin, Yu Wang (died young)
      • 豫王 is likely his title. 豫(yù) means “joy, happy, or carefree”.
      • Nickname: 最兴来 Herald of Joy
    • Huirou calls her as ‘Elder Sister’ as per Song custom

Jie‘yu – Ladies of Handsome Fairness (婕妤)

  • 俞婕妤 Jie’yu Yu
    • Seems to be on good terms with Zhaorong Miao
    • Birth Mother of  崇庆公主 Princess Chongqing – Second Imperial Princess (died young)

Beautiful Ladies (美人)

  • 张美人 Beautiful Lady Zhang
    • Lives in 翔鸾阁 Soaring Phoenix Pavilion
    • Called a “rotten woman with a poor background” due to her past career as a performer. — Read her background story in Chapter 2, Part 4, Reflection of Clouds.
    • Birth Mother of  幼悟 Youwu – Eighth Imperial Princess
      • Dharma name: 保慈崇祐大师 Master of Protection, Kindness, Honour and Blessings
      • Later promoted to:
        • 邓国公主 Princess of Deng Country
        • 齐国长公主 Princess Imperial of Qi Country
    • Previously birthed two more daughters. Both died young of (allegedly) unnatural causes.
      • 安寿公主 Princess Anshou – Third Imperial Princess
      • 宝和公主 Princess Baohe – Fourth Imperial Princess
    • 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
    • 贾婆婆 Grandmother Jia – Beautiful Lady Zhang’s foster mother and the acknowledged/honorary aunt of Jia Chengzhao. An arrogant and intimidating old woman.

Talented Ladies (才人)

Noble Ladies (贵人)


*This does not include deceased Princes i.e. Yu Wang, Prince Xin.

僖简王, 赵允宁 Xi’jian Wang, Zhao Yunning

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

汝南郡王 Ru’nan Junwang

  • The Junwang ruling over Runan County
  • His thirteenth son was adopted by the Emperor

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.

宗实 Zongshi

  • The Emperor’s adopted son; The thirteenth son of Ru’nan Junwang
  • Yue Prefecture’s Military Training Commissioner 岳州 团练使
  • Nickname: 十三团练 Thirteenth Regiment

王德 Wang De

  • 祁国公 Imperial Duke Qi
  • Offered two concubines to the Emperor as a tribute


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:
    • 内内侍省 都知 Omniscient Chamberlain of the Interior Department

副都知 – Assistant Omniscient Chamberlain

  • 任守忠 Ren Shouzhong: A high-ranking eunuch. Invited to teach by Liang Quanyi.
    • 内内侍省 副都知 Assistant Omniscient Chamberlain for the Interior Department *Rank confirmed in Chapter 1,  Part 6Nyamachi
    • Discovers Huaiji broke the colourful glazed cup bestowed by the Emperor
  • 周怀政 Zhou Huaizheng: The Emperor’s personal eunuch when he was the Crown Prince (Beheaded for trying to usurp the throne)

押班 – Custodial Team Member

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

  • 王昭明 Wang Zhaoming: Introduced in Chapter 2, Part 2. He seems to be trusted by Zhao’rong Miao.  Later expelled from the capital and sent to Chun County.
  • Guessing his rank; Assuming he’s of a higher rank than Zhang Maoze because he’s accompanying the Emperor – Chapter 2, Part 2 only says 内供奉官. – Nyamachi

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

  • 张茂则 Zhang Maoze: Invited to teach by Liang Quanyi. Saved LHJ’s life and bestowed him with a new name.  He has an undefined past relationship with the Empress.
    • Courtesy name: Pingfu
    • 内东门 供奉官 Supervisor Official for the Inner Eastern Gate
    • Rank confirmed in Chapter 2, Part 2Nyamachi

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. Fifteen years old as of Chapter 3, Part 3. He felt guilty about unknowingly having her eat hot property foods to achieve the look he desired to paint.

  • Titled Coiffure Attendant (司栉内人) of the Empress’ Hall of Gentle Countenance in Chapter 3, Part 3.

Directress Li: Directress in the Style Bureau, titled Madam Combing Lady.

Directress Chen: Another Style Bureau directress; talented at makeup, but less so at combing hair.

许静奴 Xu Jingnu: A maid in the Style Bureau who serves Beautiful Lady Zhang. Her name means “quiet slave.”

Gu Cai’er: A maid in the Style Bureau who serves Jie’yu Yu.  Becomes the new Madam Combing Lady in Chapter 3, Part 1.


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 (Sorted alphabetically)

丁谓 Ding Wei: Previous Chancellor during the time the Emperor was still the Crown Prince

范仲淹 Fan Zhongyan: Formerly involved in governmental affairs (A retired official?) who the Empress praises for his literary talent in Chapter 2 Part 6

  • Introduced as 范相公 Chancellor Fan

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: Official who wanted to educate the Hanlin Academy eunuchs so that they could help revise books in the Hall of Benevolence. An ally of Beautiful Lady Zhang.

  • As of Chapter 1, Part 6 –> 宰相 Chancellor
  • Paired with Fu Bi to welcome the Knitan envoys
    • 馆伴(使) Hospitality Commissioner 

寇准 Kou Zhun: Requested by Zhou Huaizheng to be the next Chancellor during his plot to usurp the throne. Known in modern times as a Song dynasty politician and poet.

庞籍 Pang Ji: Friend of Sima Guang.

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

四大谏官 The Four Great Remonstrance Officials: 

  • 欧阳修 Ouyang Xiu – Drafter (知制诰) and Magistrate of Chu Prefecture.  Finds himself in the middle of a scandal in Chapter 2.
  • 蔡襄 Cai Xiang
  • 余靖 Yu Jing
  • 王素 Wang Su

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 (?)

苏舜钦 Su Shunqin: Praised for his literary talent in Chapter 2 Part 6

  • Introduced as 苏子 Viscount Su
  • 原 监 进奏院 Former Supervisor of the Memorials Office
  • 大理评事 Case Reviewer in the Court of Judicial Review
  • 集贤(院) 校理 Subeditor of the Academy of Scholarly Worthies [1]Often concurrent appointments for literati with nominal offices elsewhere in the central government.

Su Anshi: An official demoted (?) to Palace Aide (殿中丞) in the wake of the Ouyang Xiu scandal. (Chapter 3, Part 2)

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

王拱辰 Wang Gongchen:

  • As of Chapter #, Part # –> 御史中丞 Vice Censor-in-Chief




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 Eastern 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 West Glorious Gate: The western outer gate of the Forbidden City.

东华门 East Glorious Gate: The eastern 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

内东门 Inner Eastern Gate

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, cosmetics, 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 
  • 进奏院 The Memorials Office: An agency of the Chancellery who were responsible for the transmission of government documents to and from the throne and central government

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 Eastern Gate
    • Other translations: The Inner Palace Eastern 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 [2]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

集贤院 The Academy of Scholarly Worthies: Oversaw the Taoist clergy and tried to entice reclusive scholars into state service

崇政殿 Hall of Venerating Governance (TL) | Hall of Veneration of Governance (Hucker’s Dictionary)

知谏院 Remonstrance Bureau

教坊司 Department of Performance Arts: Trained entertainers for the palace. Eventually became an official brothel in the Ming Dynasty.

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 / 春宫 The Spring Palace where the Crown Prince lives

仪凤阁 Yearning Phoenix Pavilion where Zhao’rong Miao lives

翔鸾阁 Soaring Phoenix Pavilion where Beautiful Lady Zhang lives

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 – The source of blue crepe fabric

相州 Xiang Prefecture – The source of hazy peony-embroidered gauze

岳州 Yue Prefecture – Where the Emperor’s adopted son is stationed

“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

信安 Xin’an County 

汝南 Run’an County 

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 [3]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.


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