The Cardonnel School of Management and Labor Relations

Adam Cardonnel is well known to Marlburian scholars. As personal secretary to the Duke of Marlborough and de facto Secretary at War, he was the administrative link that kept John Churchill connected to goings-on in the rest of the world. As a part of his office he also kept 9 volumes of letter books (Additional MSS 61394-61401, almost 2,000 folios of condensed script), wherein he copied all the administrative outgoing correspondence on the Duke’s behalf.

Cardonnel letter book

Cardonnel letter book page

He was, in other words, a servant of the Duke, and of the State.

Historians today are fortunate to be able to take advantage of all those copies Cardonnel made for nigh on a decade. But why are we so lucky to have a Cardonnel? If we stop and think for a moment, we quickly realize that every hour Cardonnel spent copying was an hour he couldn’t be doing other things. Thus, even servants of the State have servants, which prompts the business/labor historian in me to ask: how does a servant treat their own servants?

Let’s let Cardonnel tell us his secret to Human Resources management in his own words:

“… [A servant] was telling me the morning I came away that some of the servants grudg’d going into the feild without more wages. If it be so, pray let them have what they ask; but I’le be even with them, for as soon as I come to the camp I’le strip ’em and turn ’em loose, then it’s likely they will be glad to serve me for less.”

(From Alfred Morrison, ed., Collection of Autograph Letters 2:66, to Henry Watkins.)

Move over Zig Ziglar and Tony Robbins, we’ve got a new motivational speaker in town.


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