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Letter of Marque

A commission authorising a privateer to make reprisals on a hostile nation till satisfaction for injury has been duly made. Here “marque” means march, or marca, a border-land (whence our “marquis,” the lords appointed to prevent border-incursions). A letter of marque or mart was permission given for reprisals after a border-incursion. Called jus marchium.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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