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Law 24: Play The Perfect Courtier

In the image: Michael Rubens Bloomberg is an American businessman, politician, philanthropist, and author. He is the majority owner and co-founder of Bloomberg L.P. He was the mayor of New York City from 2002 to 2013, and was a candidate for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president of the United States. Wikipedia

The perfect courtier thrives in a world where everything revolves around power and political dexterity. He has mastered the art of indirection; he flatters, yields to superiors, and asserts power over others in the most oblique and graceful manner. Learn and apply the laws of courtiership and there will be no limit to how far you can rise in the court.

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Court Society

  • The successful courtier walks a tightrope — pleasing but not pleasing too much, obeying but somehow distinguishing himself from the other courtiers, while also never distinguishing himself so far as to make the ruler insecure.
  • Great courtiers throughout history have mastered the science of manipulating people. They make the king feel more kingly; they make everyone else fear their power.
  • They never say more than necessary, getting the most out of a compliment or hidden insult. They are magnets of pleasure — they know how to please yet they neither fawn nor humiliate themselves.
  • Because power exists, courtiers will always exist.

Laws of Court Politics

1. Avoid Ostentation

  • Never prattle on about yourself or call too much attention to your actions.

2. Practice Nonchalance

  • Never seem to be working too hard. Your talent must appear to flow naturally, with an ease that makes people take you for a genius rather than an workaholic.
  • Even if something demands a lot of sweat, make it look effortless.

3. Be Frugal With Flattery

  • Too much of a good thing loses its value.

4. Arrange To Be Noticed

  • Pay attention to your physical appearance, and find a way to create a distinctive — a subtly distinctive style and image

5. Alter Your Style and Language According To The Person You Are Dealing With

6. Never Be The Bearer Of Bad News

  • The king kills the messenger who brings bad news.

7. Never Affect Friendliness and Intimacy With Your Master

  • He does not want a friend for a subordinate; he wants a subordinate.

8. Never Criticize Those Above You Directly

9. Be Frugal In Asking Those Above you For Favours

  • Ask for favours as rarely as possible, and know when to stop.

10. Never Joke About Appearances Or Taste

11. Do Not Be The Court Cynic

  • Express admiration for the good work of others.

12. Be Self-Observant

13. Master Your Emotions

14. Fit the Spirit Of The Times

  • Your way of thinking must keep up with the times.

15. Be A Source Of Pleasure


In the image: Napoleon Bonaparte

One cannot spell courtship without Charles Maurice de Talleyrand Perigord, the man who brought down Napoleon Bonaparte, master of the battlefield, with extreme subtlety. You are a courtier, whether you like it or not. You must play the game of power so you might as well choose to be good at it. The perfect courtier obeys his masters but shines in his own light. He is not powerless, doesn’t trust, but appears trustful, doesn’t talk much, but finds the right words and the right timing when he does. Everyone likes him. He is charming, witty, and helpful. He appears to be neutral, a paragon of honesty and fairness. He always has a genuine smile on his face and we don’t doubt his intentions for one second. Although he is a great talent, we are not threatened by him. We seek him as an ally. This way, the perfect courtier holds more power than the king himself, without the dangers of that position. As we target the highest authorities, he’s in the shadows observing the current state of the chessboard. Pieces may fall and be sacrificed on both ends, but he is winning regardless. Learn the art of courtship.

About The Book

The 48 Laws of Power (1998) is a non-fiction book by American author Robert Greene. The book is a bestseller, selling over 1.2 million copies in the United States.

Buy The 48 Laws of Power or Listen to it for FREE on Audible