Historical Geography Research ›› 2021, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (2): 31-41.

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An Analysis of the Classification of Counties Under the Official Rank System of the Liang Dynasty

Yao Le   

  1. Jiangsu Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, Nanjing 210004, China
  • Received:2020-10-20 Online:2021-05-20 Published:2021-05-20


Analyzing the cases of selection and transfer of county officials in the Liang Dynasty (502-557 AD), the system can be characterized by the rules of “Counties divide into seven classes” and “Officials of large counties equal those at the sixth class” existed at that time. In the actual operation of the system, many county officials were employed below the proper class, i.e. it was common for the seniority of the county officials to exceed the rank of the county. The counties of high rank seen in the official history were all located within the territory of Yangzhou, Nanxuzhou, and mainly belonged to the prefectures of Danyang, Wu, Wuxing and Kuaiji, which were the heartland of the empire. This is not only a result of the bias of history books, but also a direct reflection of the political conditions in the above-mentioned areas. The most important factor influencing the official’s rank of each county is its population. Taking other factors into consideration, it is believed that the highest-ranking counties which were at the sixth class may have been classified by the criterion of having 5 000 households. The analysis of the rank of each county can also improve our knowledge of the population distribution at that time.

Key words: Liang Dynasty, rank of county officials, distribution of large counties, number of households

CLC Number: 

  • K928