Miles Vorkosigan's Relatives

by James Burbidge

This was originally posted to the lois-bujold mailing list in December 1998.

Miles Vorkosigan comes from a society where (due to its feudal underpinnings) family connnections are important and visible (Miles says of nepotism and the Vor in Komarr, "it's not a vice, it's a lifestyle"). Yet he has remarkably few Barrayaran relatives himself. One would expect, in principle, that Aral's connections would have come crawling out of the woodwork when he became Regent (as if being a Count weren't enough). Yet we see only his immediate ancestors and Ivan Vorpatril (his aunt Alys Vorpatril is a relative by marriage).

So why doesn't Miles have "visible" relatives other than Ivan?

It's fairly easy to work out that he is very unlikely to have any other relatives closer than third cousins on Barrayar, and relatively few of those.

Since his mother isn't from Barrayar, we can lop off half his family tree right there. (We know that Miles has relatives on Beta, but they aren't in question.)

Aral was one of two children; his elder brother died without issue [Barrayar]. Therefore we can rule out any first cousins.

It's a fair assumption that, as Count, if Piotr had had surviving siblings or nephews/nieces we would have heard of them -- they would definitely be cadet members with Piotr and then Aral as the head of the family, and ought to have showed up, at minimum, during the stages of Aral's confirmation as Regent in Barrayar. It's a fair assumption that if Piotr had any relatives via siblings, they were wiped out by the Cetagandans (not, note, Yuri -- they weren't in line for the throne, not being descended from Piotr's wife). Thus Miles almost certainly has no second cousins other than Ivan.

Aral notes in Barrayar, on Padma's death, that the two of them were the last surviving descendants of Prince Xav (the only two to survive Yuri). Therefore Aral's mother (Olivia, according to Lois) had no siblings with surviving issue other than Padma's mother, and we can rule out any second cousins other than Ivan.

For third cousins, there are some possibilities, but not very many. There are four great-grandparent connections to consider:

Feudal/traditional societies do tend to take more distant degrees of kinship more seriously than we do (marriage in the middle ages was prohibited on the basis of consanguinity to the sixth degree, for example), so Miles probably would think of any third cousins as cousins, but they're not close, and the effect of the weedings caused by Yuri, the Cetagandans (including the likely incineration of many relatives in Vorkosigan Vashnoi) and two off-planet ancestresses means that there aren't likely to be very many, either.

A very rough diagram showing Miles' immediate ascertainable Barrayaran relatives looks like this:

      |           |                         |
     Yuri        Xav--Betan               Daughter--Ezar
     (d.s.p.)       |                              |
            ________|________                      |
            |                |                     |
    Piotr--Olivia          Daughter--X.Vorpatril  Serg--Kareen
         |                         |                  |
_________|__                       |                  |
|           |                      |                  |
Son        Aral--Cordelia         Padma--Alys      Gregor
(d.s.p.)       |                       |
               |                       |
             Miles                   Ivan

© 1999 by James Burbidge (

Current version by Michael Bernardi,

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Last updated: November 15th 2002