The Free Dictionary  
mailing list For webmasters
Welcome Guest Forum Search | Active Topics | Members

Letters of Marque Options
Posted: Monday, September 11, 2017 12:00:00 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/7/2009
Posts: 24,586
Neurons: 72,936
Location: Inside Farlex computers
Letters of Marque

A retaliatory measure once widely employed by governments around the globe, a letter of marque and reprisal is an official commission which authorizes a private ship to attack and capture merchant vessels from a hostile power. A ship operating under a letter of marque was known as a "private man-of-war" or "privateer." Widespread abuse on the part of privateers led a number of nations to ratify the 1856 Declaration of Paris abolishing the practice. What major power refused to sign the agreement? More...
Posted: Monday, September 11, 2017 2:50:28 AM

Rank: Newbie

Joined: 8/13/2015
Posts: 15
Neurons: 21,277
Location: Rio Rancho, New Mexico, United States
all of my reference sources point to the middle ages ending by the 14th or 15 century.

are these articles of the day reviewed or edited by anyone?
this is the first time i have responded to such errors, but there have been previous articles that seem to be on the level of high school book reports

raghd muhi al-deen
Posted: Monday, September 11, 2017 10:13:45 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/19/2017
Posts: 1,067
Neurons: 92,454
Location: Baghdad, Mayorality of Baghdad, Iraq
marque and reprisal
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Encyclopedia.
Letter of marque
Letter of marque given to Captain Antoine Bollo via the shipowner Dominique Malfino from Genoa, owner of the Furet, a 15-tonne privateer, 27 February 1809

In the days of fighting sail, a letter of marque and reprisal was a government license authorizing a person (known as a privateer) to attack and capture enemy vessels and bring them before admiralty courts for condemnation and sale. Cruising for prizes with a letter of marque was considered an honorable calling combining patriotism and profit, in contrast to unlicensed piracy, which was universally reviled.[1] In addition to the term lettre de marque, the French sometimes used the term lettre de course for their letters of marque, giving rise to the term corsair as a synonym for privateer. "Letter of marque" was sometimes used to describe the vessel used: a "letter of marque" generally refers to a lumbering square-rigged cargo carrier that might pick up a prize if the opportunity arose.[2] A "privateer" was a fast and weatherly fore-and-aft-rigged vessel heavily armed and heavily crewed, intended exclusively for fighting.

A "letter of marque and reprisal" would involve permission to cross an international border to effect a reprisal (take some action against an attack or injury) authorized by an issuing jurisdiction to conduct reprisal operations outside its borders.

Old English mearc, from Germanic *mark- ‘boundary; boundary marker’, from Proto-Indo-European *merǵ- ‘boundary, border’.

French, from Provençal marca, from marcar ‘seize as a pledge‘
Nomenclature history

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. (Clarendon Press, 1989) ( def. 1 of "marque" & def. 2a of "marque" defining "letter of marque"), the first recorded use of "letters of marque and reprisal" was in an English statute in 1354 during the reign of Edward III. The phrase referred to "a licen[s]e granted by a sovereign to a subject, authorizing him to make reprisals on the subjects of a hostile state for injuries alleged to have been done to him by the enemy's army."
Early history
Drake viewing treasure taken from a Spanish ship, print[3] courtesy New York Public Library

During the Middle Ages, armed private vessels enjoying their sovereign's tacit consent, if not always an explicit formal commission, regularly raided shipping of other nations, as in the case of Francis Drake's attacks on Spanish shipping, of which Elizabeth I (despite protestations of innocence) took a share.[4] Grotius's 1604 seminal work on international law, De Iure Praedae (Of The Law of Prize and Booty), was an advocate's brief defending Dutch raids on Spanish and Portuguese shipping.[5]

King Henry III of England first issued what later became known as privateering commissions in 1243.[6] These early licences were granted to specific individuals to seize the king’s enemies at sea in return for splitting the proceeds between the privateers and the crown.

The letter of marque and reprisal first arose in 1295,[7] 50 years after wartime privateer licenses were first issued. According to Grotius, letters of marque and reprisal were akin to a "private war", a concept alien to modern sensibilities but related to an age when the ocean was lawless and all merchant vessels sailed armed for self-defense.[8] A reprisal involved seeking the sovereign's permission to exact private retribution against some foreign prince or subject. The earliest instance of a licensed reprisal recorded in England was in the year 1295 under the reign of Edward I.[9] The notion of reprisal, and behind it that just war involved avenging a wrong, clung to the letter of marque until 1620 in England, in that to apply for one a shipowner had to submit to the Admiralty Court an estimate of actual losses.[10]

Licensing privateers during wartime became widespread in Europe by the 16th Century,[11] when most countries[12] began to enact laws regulating the granting of letters of marque and reprisal.[13]

Although privateering commissions and letters of marque were originally distinct legal concepts, such distinctions became purely technical by the eighteenth century.[14] The United States Constitution, for instance, states that "The Congress shall have Power To ... grant Letters of marque and reprisal ...”,[15] without separately addressing privateer commissions.

During the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812, it was common to distinguish verbally between privateers (also known as private ships of war) on the one hand, and armed merchantmen, which were referred to as "letters of marque", on the other, though both received the same commission. The Sir John Sherbrooke (Halifax) was a privateer; the Sir John Sherbrooke (Saint John) was an armed merchantman. The East India Company arranged for letters of marque for its East Indiamen such as the Lord Nelson, not so that they could carry cannons to fend off warships, privateers, and pirates on their voyages to India and China—that they could do without permission—but so that, should they have the opportunity to take a prize, they could do so without being guilty of piracy. Similarly, the Earl of Mornington, an East India Company packet ship of only six guns, too carried a letter of marque.

In July 1793, the East Indiamen Royal Charlotte, Triton, and Warley participated in the capture of Pondichéry by maintaining a blockade of the port. Afterwards, as they were on their way to China, the same three East Indiamen participated in an action in the Straits of Malacca. They came upon a French frigate, with some six or seven of her prizes, replenishing her water casks ashore. The three British vessels immediately gave chase. The frigate fled towards the Sunda Strait. The Indiamen were able to catch up with a number of the prizes, and, after a few cannon shots, were able to retake them. Had they not carried letters of marque, such behavior might well have qualified as piracy. Similarly, on 10 November 1800 the East Indiaman Phoenix captured the French privateer General Malartic,[16] under Jean-Marie Dutertre, an action made legal by a letter of marque.
Applying for, and legal effect of, letter of marque
The body of Captain William Kidd hanging in a gibbet over the Thames, the result of confusion over whether Captain Kidd took prizes legally under a letter of marque, or illegally as a pirate.

The procedure for issuing letters of marque and the issuing authority varied by time and circumstance. In colonial America, for instance, colonial governors issued them in the name of the king. During the American Revolution, first the state legislatures, then both the states and the Continental Congress, then, after ratification of the Constitution, Congress authorized and the President signed letters of marque. A shipowner would send in an application stating the name, description, tonnage, and force (armaments) of the vessel, the name and residence of the owner, and the intended number of crew, and tendered a bond promising strict observance of the country's laws and treaties and of international laws and customs. The commission was granted to the vessel, not to its captain, often for a limited time or specified area, and stated the ene

with my pleasure
Users browsing this topic

Forum Jump
You cannot post new topics in this forum.
You cannot reply to topics in this forum.
You cannot delete your posts in this forum.
You cannot edit your posts in this forum.
You cannot create polls in this forum.
You cannot vote in polls in this forum.

Main Forum RSS : RSS
Forum Terms and Guidelines | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2008-2018 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.