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"Government by thugs in the Bloody Centuries gave Barrayar many colorful historical incidents, suitable for high drama. I don't think it's a drama we wish to return to in real life."
―Dono Vorrutyer on governance[src]

The Bloody Centuries were a period of between two and three hundred years near the end of Barrayar's Time of Isolation (see article Selig Vorkosigan for discussion of duration). They were a time of battling between Counts and Emperors, with many colorful tales, such as the Saltpetre Plot and the war over horse manure.

They were brought to an end by Emperor Dorca Vorbarra, who reunited the planet shortly before the Rediscovery of Barrayar by galactic civilization.

Events of the Bloody Centuries[]

  • The Adventures of Vorthalia the Bold and/or Vorthalia the Loyal[1]
  • The Zidiarch Trade War, in which the fifth Vortala tried to disinherit his son in favor of Lord Midnight the Horse, who always voted "neigh"[2][3]
  • The Incendiary Cat Plot[2]
  • The creation of Counts, as Varadar Tau's tax collectors[4][5]
  • The creation of Imperial Auditors[5]
  • The Saltpetre Plot, in which the sixth Countess Vorvayne chose to die with her husband[6]
  • The Maiden of the Lake, in which Selig Vorkosigan raised the siege of Vorkosigan Surleau one day too late to save his betrothed.[7]
  • Smuggling horses, in which Selig Vorkosigan's armsman successfully smuggled war horses to the besieged town of Vorkosigan Vashnoi by appearing to instead be smuggling junk.[8]
  • A war over horse manure.[9]
  • A Countess was legally declared male in order to inherit the countship during a civil war.[9]
  • Vorventa the Twice-Hung was executed two times; apparently this practice was done occasionally during the Time of Isolation.[10]
  • The Ten-Years' War happened during Vlad Vorbarra's reign and featured an assault on the Old Star Bridge of Vorbarr Sultana.[11]
  • A war in which a Countess Vorinnis was besieged by a force that held her children hostage. She mocked the besiegers by standing on a battlement, flipping up her skirts, and informing them she could get more children where those had come from.[12]

Behind the scenes[]

The Incendiary Cat Plot was at least partly inspired by the real-life Incendiary Bat Plot; compare Jack Couffer's book Bat Bomb: World War II's other secret weapon (1992).


  1. The Warrior's Apprentice
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mirror Dance chapter 14
  3. A Civil Campaign chapter 2
  4. Barrayar (novel) chapter 5
  5. 5.0 5.1 Memory chapter 5
  6. Komarr chapter 7
  7. Komarr (novel) chapter 19
  8. Mirror Dance chapter 4
  9. 9.0 9.1 A Civil Campaign chapter 6
  10. Komarr chapter 11
  11. A Civil Campaign chapter 16
  12. Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen chapter 2