Count was a title and position in the government of Barrayar.
Role of the Counts
The North Continent of Barrayar was divided into sixty districts, one for each of sixty counts. Each count governed and taxed his district, and all counts were members of the Vor caste. A Count could choose his own heir, "Count's choice before Count's blood", however the default was the first son of the Count.
The Counts met in the Council of Counts in Vorhartung Castle to pass legislation, confirm heirs, and conduct other business of state. Along with the Council of Ministers, they formed the legislature of the Barrayaran Imperium. The Emperor of Barrayar was a count in his own right and had a vote in the Council, although he usually abstained.
Counts, as Vor lords, could not be tried in standard courts on Barrayar, only tried by their peers in the Council of Counts. However, they faced tighter rules in their everyday lives. For instance, the charge of mutiny in the military became treason when applied to a Count or his heirs.
Each Count generally had two official residences, one in the capital in Vorbarr Sultana, and another in his district.
The origin of the title was from accountant, as the counts were originally Imperial tax collectors, called " 'counts". Over time they gained control over large swathes of territory and recruited private armies. During the reign of Emperor Dorca the Just Vorbarra, the private armies were outlawed and each Count was restricted to a guard of twenty Armsmen.
During the time of the occupation of the planet by the off-world Cetagandan Empire, many District Counts may have been removed or even executed, though a few Counts might have retained rule of their Districts in return for supporting the Cetagandan regime. The government of most individual districts might then have been placed in the hands of ghem officers or traitorous Barrayarans (either Vor or proles). In such a case, after the Cetagandans were forced from Barrayar, the district might then have been returned to the original Counts or their heirs and any traitorous, collaborationist, pro-Cetagandan Counts executed for treason and their Districts granted to someone else who would then have been promoted to the rank of High Vor.
- District Count of Barrayar on Wikipedia