What does it take?

Sep 04 2018

Novembris 1, 378

To my son Aleksandr:

What does it take to earn the devotion of one’s servants? Of one’s subjects? A Lord might command the obedience of his men by holding their families hostage, but this is not enough to make them truly loyal, nor to ensure that when the time comes, they will gladly lay down their own lives for his. So I ask you: what does it take?

The answer is simple to lay to paper, yet nuanced in practice, my son: take good care of your people, and they will take good care of you. Reward outstanding service, but not too often, as doing so can undermine your efforts (pride in one’s work is acceptable; feelings of entitlement are not). Above all, you must ensure that your attendants never forget that it is a privilege to serve your House, and you must allow them to find fulfillment in their varied roles, however humble. Never show undue favor, however, especially to the low-born, as this can cause great unease and disruption among the ranks of your staff.

Ill treatment of one’s inferiors is another invitation for resentment and betrayal. For practical reasons, you should always make an example of a poorly-behaved subject, but you should never do so with excessive cruelty or visible pleasure. Otherwise, you may end up like Lady Jozefina, the notoriously vicious matriarch who died a slow and painful death after being poisoned by her own mistreated cook. One only need consult the history books for other examples of what happens to tyrants. Rarely do they die peacefully in their beds.

The balance I describe is not always an easy one to maintain, my son, but I have faith in you.

Lord bless and guide you,

Your Loving Father

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