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The Art of Privateering

November 14th, 2013 by Piper Smith

Were privateers and pirates the same? Sort of. A privateer acted similarly to a pirate, but acted “pirately” with a commission or letter of marque from a governmental entity. For instance, a government would commission the capturing of merchant ships that belonged to enemy nations. Letters of marque were recognized internationally and meant that privateers could not be charged with piracy while engaging in acts of privacy under the government’s commission. However, there were some countries like Spain whose authorities didn’t recognize letters of marque. They would even hang privateers with their letters of marque around their neck!

A letter of marque for Henry Morgan in 1699. He was an Admiral of the English Royal Navy and a successful privateer!

A letter of marque for Henry Morgan in 1699. He was an Admiral of the British Royal Navy and a successful privateer!

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