In Game of Thrones S08E06, we see the lords of Westeros

take a vote to choose a new king.

One of the first to exclaim their vote was Samwell. Why was he allowed to vote? Why did he have a seat at the 'table'? As far as I know he is not a lord nor a lady.

  • 7
    He could possibly have become lord of House Tarley as his father and brother are dead. The follow up question is of course how could he inherit land or title if he's nights watch, but if he’s still nights watch why is he archmaester at Kings landing? May 20 '19 at 2:43
  • 1
    Neither was Brienn. But she had one. May 20 '19 at 6:11
  • We also don't know the identities of several other attendees at the council. It's possible that heading a great house isn't enough to grant attendance. Consider that Bronn wasn't there, despite being one of the most important lords of Westeros at that point. The real reason is probably that they were the main-est characters still living and interested in the kingdom, but it's plausible that they were simply the collected leaders and decisively influential/involved people who helped avoid total the risks of total destruction the wars imposed.
    – Upper_Case
    May 20 '19 at 21:16
  • @Upper_Case I understood that Bronn had been sort of written out of the show but only made a few cameo's at the direction of HBO management due to his popularity among fans.
    – JJJ
    May 20 '19 at 21:22
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    His screen time is irrelevant to my point, unless you are explicitly rejecting all potential in-universe explanations in favor of descriptions of literal production of the show. If that's what you're looking for, then the answer to this question is "the writers wrote it that way", and no further discussion or thought is necessary or valuable. If, instead, you are trying to use in-universe logic (like noting that having only high nobles there makes sense), then it's odd to gloss over other in-universe information at arbitrary points.
    – Upper_Case
    May 20 '19 at 21:45

I mention here (with added emphasis):

Sam was actually appointed Grand Maester (senseless as that may be...), which grants him a place in the small council, which presumably would also grant him presence (and a vote?) in what I assume is a short-staffed Great Council.

In the small council, we see Sam all dressed in white, as is custom for Grand Maester, and Tyrion addresses him as "Grand Maester" too, just so we can make sure.

We should all be asking ourselves why Davos got a vote — I know he was surprised ;)

  • 5
    Sam isn't Grand Anything until appointed by the king, so that couldn't grant him a vote on who becomes the king who would later appoint him. This makes no sense.
    – Geobits
    May 20 '19 at 18:06
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    Well, if we wanna talk about things making sense, then Sam being Grand Maester in and of itself does not make any sense, as I doubt the Citadel would make him so... :] yet, here we are!
    – JNat
    May 20 '19 at 18:33
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    To clarify: I'm not confusing anything. I don't know when Sam was appointed Grand Maester. And since it doesn't make any sense under any circumstances, I'm assuming he was only able to vote because he was granted that title some time before the Great Council — yes, despite not donning the white cloak thingy then. He wasn't Lord of anything, or a Knight, or anything at all, so it wouldn't make sense for him to have a vote unless he had already been appointed... granted, there are other characters that were voting and weren't Lords, but... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
    – JNat
    May 21 '19 at 11:17
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    The writers messed a lot of things up: now we believe whatever stories we want to believe to make sense out of it.
    – JNat
    May 21 '19 at 11:18
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    I'm not forcing anything, the writers are! :] I believe we're just looking at it from completely opposite points of the spectrum: I find it a huge jump to say that he'd be able to get a vote as a representative of a major house, so that feels much more forced to me, given he's got his Watch oath, and him wanting to be a Maester would also hold him to a similar oath. With that said, and given that at least we're shown he's appointed Grand Maester at some point... seems less forced to me :)
    – JNat
    May 21 '19 at 11:24

I think it's easier to get around to this by directing you to another question.

Why was Lord Gendry Baratheon, the Rejected there?

He was a bastard, so not normally recognized as a legitimate heir. He wouldn't even hold the Baratheon name normally. The only person who had recognized him as the legitimate holder of the Stormlands, and gave him the name of Baratheon, was Daenerys.

As such the take away seems to be:

Anyone recognized or appointed as a Lord or Lady by Daenerys is legitimately so.

Certainly the Unsullied would have an interest in this, as their fanatical devotion to Daenerys would make them want her works and proclamations to carry through. As was noted by Varys, Gendry would be a loyal vassal thanks to the act, rather than a liability. So we can probably be safe to assume even more:

All political (non-war) acts and decrees made by Dany remain valid.

This may have been a simple necessity in negotiating the meeting with Grey Worm and the Unsullied, who had Jon (and Tyrion) as prisoner.

Back to Sam

We never see Daenerys specifically declare that Sam is now the Lord and head of his house. There are some indications that she presumed this. After killing Sam's father and brother, everyone's reaction seems to be that Sam is now the (male) heir.

Furthermore, when Daenerys meets Sam for the first time and asks him if there is anything she can do for him, he requests a pardon. He only specifically mentions his theft of the books and the sword. We do not see Daenerys (or anyone at all) make any further mention of this. But it seems implicit from the scene that anything he requested that was within her power would be granted (implicitly immediately, if so). Ser Jorah accompanied her for this encounter, so others would have known. And she may have simply given a rather more general pardon, or others (such as Grey Worm, hearing of it second hand) may have interpreted it as such.

The pardon itself was meant to reward him for his major contributions towards The Great War. Much as Jon tells Arya that no one would seriously have the stones to tell her she's not allowed at the Wall, thanks to being the one who slew the Night King, it may well be the case that Sam's important contribution is also well-known. So much so that no one would really have the stones to try to punish a man so important to saving all of Westeros.

As such it seems plausible to suppose that:

Daenerys likely pardoned Sam for his crimes. And popular opinion would have been high enough to make it politically unwise to punish him regardless.

By the previous part, a pardon, even implicit, by Dany may have been deemed valid. As such there was nothing further for anyone to do. But even if you don't like stretching what we saw that much, we do have indications that the second part would be valid.

And as a bonus back-up possibility, it seems the Night's Watch, or whatever is left of it, isn't too keen on rigidly enforcing the old oath anyway. The ending seems to suggest that they just let Jon waltz off with the Free Folk to live unfettered, north of the Wall. As such anyone who contacted the Night's Watch concerning whether they had an oathbreaker on their hands who needed to be duly punished, may have simply been told "nope."

Really the overarching idea here seems to be that everyone has had bigger problems to deal with, and Sam's oath and theft were irrelevant trifles in comparison, and as such duly ignored while they dealt with the big fish. Just as no one evidently tried to contest Gendry's lordship: there were bigger problems to deal with, and if he was dealing with the problems of the Stormlands rather than them then all the better.

  • "All political (non-war) acts and decrees made by Dany remain valid." <-- Definitely so, I think, but not just for the sake of dealing with Grey Worm and the Unsullied. Even leaving them out of it, it's better for the Realm to have continuity of government -- for its narrative of its own history to consider her to have been a legitimate ruler, not a conqueror, and what follows her death to be an orderly succession, not a revolution. So yes, her acts should remain in force unless&until overwritten by a successor.
    – dgould
    May 23 '19 at 21:50

This scene showed the first time ever that a ruler had been appointed by a vote as opposed to being born to a monarch or taking power through war or imprisoning a sitting ruler. This is completely new territory.

Grey Worm said something along the lines of that the people gathered there were some of the most powerful people in the land and that they should collectively appoint a new ruler. Because this vote was the first of it's kind, there was no electoral role, note electoral commission and no guidance or precedent, this was literally an unprecedented vote.

I think Davos summed it up when he pre-fixed his vote by saying he wasn't even sure he should have a vote. Perhaps future votes will be better organised, perhaps there will be some criteria for voting such as to register to vote you must be a noble, a maester, a knight, a military leader, a religious leader, etc, etc... There is however nothing in the entire history of Westeros that sets any kind of legal precedent for this vote. Why were any of the people gathered there allowed to elect a new monarch? Because that's what they decided to do.

  • 1
    There's a question, on the Sci-Fi SE I think, asking if a King had ever been peacefully chosen by a council in Westeros. The answer given was "yes, three times". I'll see if I can find it. May 20 '19 at 17:38
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    Here it is. It is still notable that blood relations do appear to have been a major factor in these decisions, but there was a very unclear and essentially broken line of succession, and the Great Council has had to choose between an array of potential rulers who had distant claims at best. May 20 '19 at 17:41
  • @zibadawatimmy I accept there have been times that the line may have been unclear and several candidates had a claim to the throne. By those rules though, the vote ought to have been between Jon, Tyrion and Gendry as these were arguably inline to “inherit” the throne. This vote seems to be very different. May 20 '19 at 18:04

Sam is the last remaining Tarly, giving him a vote as a Lord.

As Tyrion says,

From now on, rulers will not be born. They will be chosen on this spot, by the Lords and Ladies of Westeros, to serve the Realm.

But - even if he wasn't a Lord, he probably would have been allowed a vote. Everyone in the circle was given a chance to vote, including the strange people with no names that we've never seen before.

  • 2
    Sam isn't a Lord of anything, though: he's got his vow to the Night's Watch, and then the fact that he wants to be a Maester — both of which stand in the way of a lordship.
    – JNat
    May 20 '19 at 10:16
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    yeah that's true. but he did have sex with a girl (not allowed by the night's watch) and he left the Citadel after stealing from them (certainly not allowed). he clearly has a history of abandoning his oaths... so his vote means as much as the "ruler" accepts it to mean
    – LevenTrek
    May 20 '19 at 10:24
  • @JNat Pretty sure he could just be pardoned. Dany never granted him the requested pardon on-screen, but it still may have been granted. And given that Lord Rejected-by-Arya was there and apparently recognized as a Lord for the purposes of this gathering, it seems the general consensus is that the Lords installed by Daenerys were deemed legitimate. Certainly the Unsullied would have wanted this, given their fanatical devotion to Daenerys. Sam would still owe his not-being-dead to Dany, after all. May 20 '19 at 17:37

Why anyone even has a vote?

Davos Seaworth is the right hand of a dead king (Stannis) and consultant of a prisoner?

Brienne of Tarth is just a knight not a lord or lady at the moment.

Samwell Tarly is the only remaining heir of Tarly, so he holds more ground than most of them.

And also Night's Watch is only left as a land of broken and bastards now. And he was already freed long back by that time's lord commander and kind of became the Maester.

  • Arya didn't vote, though.
    – JNat
    May 20 '19 at 10:13
  • @JNat she didn't say "aye'? May 20 '19 at 10:14
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    Not that I recall. Only one Stark spoke, and it was Sansa, to say the North wouldn't bend the knee.
    – JNat
    May 20 '19 at 10:14
  • @JNat ok I will check the scene again once for that :) May 20 '19 at 10:16

My sense is that is is because he is was Lord of House Tarly, and elevated for having fought in the battle against the white walkers to save the realms of men.

(Presumably, he gives up his Lordship when he becomes Grand Maester, but this is never explicitly stated.)

The involvement in the battle against the Night King was probably why Davos Seaworth, a petty Lord, was also given a vote.

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