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An armed vessel belonging to a private owner, commissioned by a belligerent state to carry on operations of war. The commission is known as letters of marque. Privateering is now a matter of much less importance than it formerly was, having been largely abolished by the Declaration of Paris, 16 April 1856. Signatories included Austria-Hungary, Britain, France, Prussia, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire. Notably absent was the United States, where in theory letters of marque may still be issued under the Constitution.

See also prize.

Clifford Lindsey Alderman. The Privateersmen. Chilton Books. 1965. 191pp.

Kenneth R. Andrews. Elizabethan Privateering: English Privateering During the Spanish War, 1585-1603. Cambridge University Press. 2011. 312pp.

Howard M. Chapin. Privateer Ships and Sailors: The First Century of American Colonial Privateering, 1625-1725. Mouton. 1926. 256pp.

John Philips Cranwell; William Bowers Crane. Men of Marque: A History of Private Armed Vessels out of Baltimore During the War of 1812. W. W. Norton. 1940. 413pp.

Robert H. Patton. Patriot Pirates: The Privateer War for Freedom and Fortune in the American Revolution. Random House. 2008. 291pp.

David John Starkey. British Privateering Enterprise in the Eighteenth Century. University of Exeter Press. 1990. 344pp.

David John Starkey; Jaap de Moor; E. S. van Eyck van Heslinga (editors). Pirates and Privateers: New Perspectives on the War on Trade in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. University of Exeter Press. 1997. 268pp.

Carl E. Swanson. Predators and Prizes: American Privateering and Imperial Warfare, 1739-1748. University of South Carolina Press. 1991. 299pp.

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