A Letter of Marque and Reprisal, commonly known as a Letter of Marque, was a warrant or commission from a national government usually authorizing a designated agent to search, seize, or destroy specified assets or personnel belonging to a party which has committed some offense under the laws of that nation.
Letters of Marque were also a means of employing a person or ship as a privateer, during the time of war, though they were ultimately abolished in France by the April 16, 1856 Declaration of Paris. Lettters of Marque were usually issued by governments and colonial governors of England, France, Spain, Holland, Portugal, Denmark... In 17th century, England used Letters of Marque to recruit buccaneers like Henry Morgan to fight their Spanish enemies.
The East India Trading Company was known to use Letters of Marque after 1707. Lord Cutler Beckett offered one such document, ammounting to a full pardon, to William Turner in exchange for Jack Sparrow's compass. He was also prepared to employ Sparrow as a privateer for England, though Turner believed Jack would never agree. Beckett's Letters of Marque were signed by the King George II of Great Britain, and would not be legalized unless they bore Beckett's mark. They were ultimately claimed by James Norrington as one half of the trade that secured Beckett possession of the heart of Davy Jones, and earned Norrington a full reinstatement into the Royal Navy.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Secret Files of the East India Trading Company