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"I charge you to bring the king's justice to the false knight Gregor Clegane, and all who shared in his crimes. I denounce him and attaint him, I strip him of all ranks and titles, of all lands and holdings, and sentence him to death."
Hand of the King Eddard Stark[src]

Attainder is a royal decree made by the King of the Andals and the First Men or the Hand of the King officially denouncing a person or an entire noble house. Such a decree strips the one attainted of all lands, titles and incomes.[1] Attaintment is sometimes accompanied with a death sentence, but that may not always be the case.[2]

Known cases of attainder

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire series, the manner in which Eddard Stark denounces Gregor Clegane is similar, but from what little context is given in the scene it wasn't clear if "attaint" was simply being used as a synonym for "denounce" or if it signified a specific, formal action.

Following the Battle of the Blackwater, House Florent is attainted by King Joffrey, with all its lands and titles being awarded to Ser Garlan Tyrell, the second son of Lord Mace Tyrell, who so far has been cut from the series.

The prequel novella The Princess and the Queen, covering the events of the civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons which occurred 170 years before the War of the Five Kings, made it explicitly clear that attainting is indeed a specific legal action. At one point when the war had turned in favor of Rhaenyra Targaryen, she told her advisors that she wanted to attaint those Great Houses who had sided with her half-brother Aegon II Targaryen. Specifically, she wanted to attaint House Lannister and House Baratheon, and give their lands away to her own loyal supporters.

What exactly "attainting" includes isn't clear, as other Houses have had their lands seized before as punishment. Whatever the case, Rhaenyra's own advisors felt that attainting was such a shockingly brutal move that they pleaded with Rhaenyra not to do it, saying that it would set a bad precedent and discomfort her current allies.

See also