Defense and Conquest


Outlaw, a pirate? No, not at all. The Governor, Louis de Buade, Count of Frontenac, issued him a letter of marque in 1688.Government authorities were responsible for the administration of privateering. In times of war, they determined their priorities and how to best employ privateers to serve the state.


The letter of marque was issued by a duly authorized government official in the name of a monarch or a state. It was the official document that saved a privateer from being considered a pirate. Without this official sanction and authorization, the privateer would be operating illegally. Consequently, it was considered to be the most precious document on board a privateer's ship. If the ship were taken by an enemy privateer, it would be the winning captain's first priority, since it would prove the legitimacy of his prize.