This chapter focuses primarily on those members of local elites who were connected to the government apparatus. This core group of local elites had decisively shaped state-elite interactions throughout imperial history. The chapter first outlines historical changes in the character of local elites and in their relations with the pre-imperial, the early imperial, and the late imperial state. It shows that the process of establishing viable relations between these elites and the bureaucracy was a lengthy and painful one, and that it took more than a full millennium for the empire to learn how to harness local elites to its cause. Even then, tension between holders of social and of administrative power remained highly visible, and cycles of cooperation and contest between them shaped much of the political dynamics of the imperial age.
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