Play the perfect courtier

Published on Aug 24, 2020

The laws of court politics

Never be the bearer of bad news - The king kills the messenger who brings bad news: This is the cliche but there is truth to it. You must struggle and if necessary lie and cheat to be sure that the lot of the bearer of bad news falls on a colleague, never on you.

Never affect friendliness and intimacy with your master - He does not want a friend for a subordinate, he wants a subordinate. Never approach him in an easy, friendly way, or act as if you are on the best of terms.

Never criticize those above your directly - This may seem obvious, but there are often times when some sort of criticism is necessary - to say nothing or to give no advice, would open you to risks of another sort. You must learn, however, to couch your advice and criticism as indirectly and as politely as possible.

Be frugal in asking those above you for favors - Nothing irritates a master more than having to reject someone's request. It stirs up guilt and resentment. Ask for favors as rarely as possible, and know when to stop.

Never joke about appearances as taste - A lively wit and humerous disposition are essential qualities for a good courtier, and there are times when vulgarity is appropriate and engaging. But avoid any kind of joke about appearance or taste.