An Armsman was a Barrayaran term for an armed liveried guard.

Each District Count was allowed twenty according to the provisions in Vorloupulous's Law[1], meaning that there were a maximum of 1200 at any time (although some Counts, like the impoverished Vorfolse[2],  employed less than the twenty allowed).

An Armsman was (supposed to be) always a citizen of his Count's District, and his word was legally his Count's. Armsmen came from a variety of backgrounds, though they all usually had some military or law enforcement skill: Bothari had served as a Sergeant in the Imperial Service[3], Pym was in Imperial Security[4], and Roic was a member of the Hassadar Municipal Guard[5].

All Armsmen contingents had an Armsman-Commander who led the men[6]. It is unknown how an armsman became a Commander, but some combination of seniority and choice on behalf of the Count or his family seems to be likely. 

"After a dozen off-world trips in m’lord’s wake, Roic was getting practiced at the scramble to arrange m’lord’s luggage, in his role of sometime-batman, m’lord’s and his own travel documents, in his role as personal assistant—the job title Roic traveled under, as explaining the ancient and honorable rank of Armsman to galactics was always a losing game—and m’lord’s security."
―Roic's job description[src]

Vorkosigan ArmsmenEdit

Vorbarra ArmsmenEdit

  • Kevi[17] (possible, but not likely - his only appearance did not have him dressed in Vorbarra livery)
  • Gerard[18]

Vorrutyer ArmsmenEdit

Vorbretten ArmsmenEdit

Oaths Associated with ArmsmenEdit

The armsman oath took the following form (the swearer was X, the swearer's home District was W, the lord was Y, the emperor was Z)[22][7]:

I, X, do testify I am [an unsworn freeman | a freeman/freewoman of the District W | a forsworn military vassal of Z], and take service under Y as an Armsman simple, and will hold him as my liege commander until my death or his releases me.

The lord being sworn to responded as follows:

I, Y, vassal secondus to Z, do accept your oath, and pledge you the protection of a liege commander; this by my word as Y.

When an armsman wished to marry, the formula went like this (X is person to marry)[23]:

My lord, I ask your permission and aid to marry X that my sons may serve you.

A favorable response took the form[23]:

Yes, may they all serve me as well as you do.


An Armsman's Shout was performed at a Count's or Count's heir's wedding. The armsmen shouted together when the wedding was completed and the couple stepped out of their circle.[5]

Notes and referencesEdit