noun(usually letters of marque) • historical
- 1A licence to fit out an armed vessel and use it in the capture of enemy merchant shipping and to commit acts which would otherwise have constituted piracy.More example sentences
- Semi-official entrepreneurs, carrying government-signed letters of marque and reprisal, and known as privateers, also were a significant force in commerce raiding up until the nineteenth century.
- If, for example, a French vessel seized a British ship, then a letter of marque could be granted that would allow the legal seizure of an item of like value from any French vessel on the high seas.
- Her business and diplomatic skills proved crucial after a raid on the Catholic-led colony early in 1645 by a ship captain armed with letters of marque from England's Protestant Parliament.
late Middle English: Law French marque, from Old French marque 'right of reprisal'.
More definitions of letter of marqueDefinition of letter of marque in:
- The US English dictionary