I once glanced into a history book (which I don't own -- perhaps I was browsing in a library, years ago) and saw a reference to the following:
Once upon a time, there was a Hapsburg boy who grew up to become the Austrian Emperor. I have a vague idea that he ruled in the 17th and/or early 18th centuries. (But this could be wrong.)
He was powerfully influenced by his mother's ideas. It seems that she told him that it was best not to be too generous, too quickly, because people would start to take his generosity for granted instead of trying to earn it by showing him all due obedience and respect.
The upshot of this was that after he was ruling as Emperor, he would often promise big rewards to noblemen who had served him well . . . and then take his own sweet time about actually following through on those promises. He believed, apparently thanks to his mother, that this would make people more inclined to keep giving him lots of respect and obedience in order to keep on his good side.
It didn't quite work out that way. Powerful men (such as the Prince of This or the Duke of That) would come to notice that, years after their sovereign had "promised" something, he still hadn't delivered, and in any other man this would have been regarded as the mark of a useless deadbeat who had no intention of ever paying his bills! So they became less and less inclined to meekly go along with the Emperor's ideas, because they came to regard him as an unreliable child who talked big and then failed to deliver on his bargains.
I don't know much about Austrian history, and a while back, doing a little Googling, I failed to determine which Emperor this would have been. Does anyone think it sounds familiar? (I can't remember anything about the book in which I ran across the above summary, beyond the fact that it was written in the English language.)