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Which of the pirates officially licensed by a sovereign nation to raid and seize goods carried by the ships of 'hostile' nations?

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2011-08-03 01:44:05
2011-08-03 01:44:05

Ships which carried such a license were technically not pirates at all; they were called "privateers". The license was known as a "letter of marque". Several nations historically issued these (including the United States, in a time period after the movies; it is one of the rights of a sovereign nation asserted in the Declaration of Independence and was used in the two wars against Great Britain); they authorized the ship to prey upon ONLY the ships of enemy nations during time of war.

Historically, many "pirates" started as "privateers", but either overstepped their authority by preying upon neutral ships, OR failed to stop their activities when the nation that had licensed them ended the war(s).

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A privateer. Technically a privateer was not a pirate, as they were still under orders from a specific nation, and could only attack ships which flew a flag for which they had a letter or marque. However, many privateers did eventually turn to piracy.

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A privateer was given a letter of marque which aurthorized him and his crew to commit raids and seizures of enemy ships. Privateers cannot technically be called pirates because "piracy" denotes that the raids and robberies are unlawful.

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