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|Date:||8/27/2014 2:33:30 AM
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|Pirate Vs. Privateer What's the Difference?
I've been hearin' some of ye wonderin' what were the differences between a privateer & a pirate?
A private owner of his own vessel would sometimes be approached by that owner's government to come work for them as someone who intercepted goods, weapons, & revenue from the enemies of their country. That meant goods going to and coming from. The private owner was usually made to feel patriotic for coming forward to do this duty that wasn't for the faint of heart. They were given a written document, a letter of marque, (a permission note for ye younger lads & lassies) that was signed by the govenment or the monarch of that country that the "privateer" would be working for. This letter would name exactly what countries & types of cargo this privateer was confiscating The word "corsair" is just another word meaning "privateer"
The letter of marque was recognized as a valid document by the international convention. This means as long as the privateer/corsair only did what was stated as his commission, he could not be charged with piracy. But therein lies the problem,
this nicety of law didn't always save the individuals concerned. Whether one was considered a pirate or a legally operating privateer often depended on whose custody the individual found himself in—that of the country that had issued the commission, or that of the object of attack. Spanish authorities were known to execute foreign privateers with their letters of marque hung around their necks to emphasize Spain's rejection of such defenses.
Many privateers/corsairs also exceeded their bounds that they agreed to on the marque. They did break their contracts when they attacked allies or even other governmental or royal ships. To do so is treason and an act of war. On the other side of the coin, those countries who were neutral & having no conflict with either side nor was taking cargo to the enemy mentioned on the marque, the privateer could still intercept & confiscate that merchant's ship & cargo. It would be written down with a flim-flam excuse usually saying that the Captain determined it was sailing for the enemy's domain.
The privateers Thomas Tew and William Kidd (the original Billy the Kidd?) were alledgedly tried & hung for this offense although the evidence was purely hearsay.
If'n ye are thinkin' that it were a slippery slope to dare sign in as a privateer with one's government, ye would be correct! Tomorrow I will be showin' ye the numbers of ships that met Davy Jones' locker because such signings with the 'devil'! Privateers could be much more ruthless that the squirmin' dogs the pirates themselves!
I appreciate ye vote & yer time, too! Let's get a pint of rum now!
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