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attainder


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The extinction of civil rights and powers when judgement of death or outlawry was recorded against a person convicted of treason or felony. It was the severest English common law penalty, for an attainted person lost all his goods and lands to the crown. Procedure by Act of Attainder became common in the Wars of the Roses, when because it was reversible it could be used as a powerful threat. Of the 397 people condemned by process in Parliament between 1453 and 1509, over 250 ultimately had their attainders reversed. Acts of Attainder came to be disapproved of because an opportunity for defence was not necessarily given; they became rare in the 18th century and ceased after 1798.

Subjects: Law


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