letters of marque

noun phrase
\-ˈmärk \

Definition of letters of marque 

: written authority granted to a private person by a government to seize the subjects of a foreign state or their goods specifically : a license granted to a private person to fit out an armed ship to plunder the enemy

First Known Use of letters of marque

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of letters of marque was in the 15th century

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