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"He was born at the very end of the Time of Isolation, and lived through every wrenching change this century has dealt to Barrayar. He was called the last of the Old Vor, but really, he was the first of the new. He changed with the times, from the tactics of horse cavalry to that of flyer squadrons, from swords to atomics, and he changed successfully. Our present freedom from the Cetagandan occupation is a measure of how fiercely he could adapt, then throw it all away and adapt again. At the end of his life he was called a conservative, only because so much of Barrayar had streamed past him in the direction he had led, prodded, pushed, and pointed all his life."
―Miles Vorkosigan describes his grandfather[src]

Piotr Pierre Vorkosigan (pee-OT-tr pee-EHR vor-KO-suh-g'n) was a general and war hero in the Barrayaran Imperial Service, and the ninth Count Vorkosigan. He was the father of Aral Vorkosigan and the grandfather of Miles Naismith Vorkosigan.


"Well—times change. Barrayar has changed. It underwent a world of change between the time I was ten and the time I was twenty. And another between the time I was twenty and forty. Nothing was the same . . . And another between the time I was forty and eighty. This weak, degenerate generation—even their sins are watered down. The old pirates of my father's day could have eaten them all for breakfast and digested their bones before lunch . . . Do you know, I shall be the first Count Vorkosigan to die in bed in nine generations?"
―Piotr's autobiography[src]

Piotr Vorkosigan was the ninth Count Vorkosigan, the son of a Count who made very poor guesses about the future market for jewels and the eldest daughter of Count Pierre "Le Sanguinaire" Vorrutyer; she never forgave him for his financial errors.[1] Born shortly before the end of the Time of Isolation[2], he spent his early adulthood fighting in the First Cetagandan War. He was only twenty-two when Emperor Dorca the Just Vorbarra appointed him a general in the Barrayaran army, running a guerilla war out of the Dendarii Mountains.[3]

He married Olivia Vorbarra,[4] the half-Betan daughter of Prince Xav Vorbarra[5], having two sons and a daughter.[6] Then his entire family except his second son Aral Vorkosigan were slaughtered by Dorca's son Emperor Yuri Vorbarra. Piotr responded by conspiring with General Ezar Vorbarra and Prince Xav to depose Yuri and place Ezar on the throne.[7]

Some thirty years later, during Vordarian's Pretendership, General Vorkosigan re-activated his guerilla contacts to hide the young Emperor Gregor Vorbarra in the Dendarii Mountains.[8]

Piotr Vorkosigan died the evening after his grandson Miles Vorkosigan failed the officer's candidacy exams for the Imperial Service, having been ill for some time before that. At the time of his death, his full title was General Count Piotr Vorkosigan. He had an elaborate funeral[9] and was buried at Vorkosigan Surleau[6]. Count Piotr willed his heirloom dagger personally to his grandson, along with the radioactive remains of the city of Vorkosigan Vashnoi.[10]

See Piotr Timeline for a listing of events from his life.

Personality and traits[]

"We're Vorkosigans. If the charge isn't at least murder or treason, it's not worth rolling over in bed for... Treason, anyway.... And sometimes not even then."
―Rules are different for Vorkosigans[src]

Piotr Vorkosigan was a vicious guerilla warrior. His men were known to scalp their foes and kill infant Cetagandan bastards, leaving them for their enemies to find. Vorkosigan further claimed he once hung a quartermaster up by his thumbs for issuing the wrong ammunition to his troops. Both of these practices were opposed by his father-in-law Prince Xav.

In addition to his own revulsion at the idea of a crippled, visibly abnormal future Count Vorkosigan, Piotr was fully aware of just how hard life would be for such a child. He was also known to have tried to murder his infant grandson at least twice; however as Miles became old enough for his intelligence and charm to show, Piotr's attitude softened and a common interest in horses and love for the Dendarii hills brought the two of them close together. Piotr, shortly before he died, hinted to Elena Bothari that he wanted Miles to assume the traditional patronymic, Piotr Miles Vorkosigan.[11]

Piotr was a staunch Vor and Barrayaran traditionalist, opposing the values of so-called Galactics influencing Barrayar, being temperamentally closer to the Conservative Party than the more liberal Progressive Party. On the other hand, late in life, he came to view the partisan politics between Progressives and Conservatives in the Council of Counts with a bemused detatchment.[12]


"'Well, old man,' he whispered, then shouted: 'ARE YOU SATISFIED YET?' The echoes rang from the stones."
―Piotr was hard to please[src]

Miles' feelings for his grandfather were powerful and ambivalent. On the one hand he loved and idolized Piotr, and knew that his grandfather loved him in return; on the other he was quite aware of Piotr's initial rejection, mostly from his grandfather's own confession. Nevertheless Miles was fully aware of how much he owed to the old Count and General who pushed rather than sheltered him and stood firmly behind him as he forced acceptance from Vor society. In his early career, Miles kept the dagger he had inherited from his grandfather on his person at all times. Along with Konstantine Bothari and his father, Piotr was one of Miles' closest role models and a major influence on his life. Like Aral, the young Miles felt he had to prove himself to Piotr, to make him proud of him; however, by the time he reached thirty Miles had come to terms with Piotr's memory and no longer felt he had to prove anything to his grandfather.[2]

Notes and references[]