letters of marqueletters of marque
a former government document authorizing an individual to make reprisals on the subjects of an enemy nation, specif. to arm a ship and capture enemy merchant ships and cargo
also letters (or letter) of marque and reprisal
letters of marque
A document issued by a government in a time of war allowing private ships to attack the ships and seize the property and citizens of a hostile nation.
Origin of letters of marqueMiddle English letters of mark, from Old French marque, mark, seizure, reprisal; see marquetry.