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Letters Of Reprisal

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Chapter Summary

Henry VIII and the Count of Holland sometimes issued letters of reprisal in times of war as a primary means of conducting war at sea, effectively treating them the same way as letters of marque. In Scotland greater differentiation was made between the two types of authorisation. Letters of reprisal were issued where an individual or collective group had suffered an illegal loss at foreign hands in peacetime. Before a letter of reprisal was issued, the injured party had to provide proof of injury and loss and have established legal proceedings for recovery but prove he had been faced with a denial of justice. Reprisal wars could be sustained over decades and lead to all-out war when factors such as political alliances, coupled with obvious and genuine commercial grievances, played a part.

Keywords: letters; reprisal wars; Scotland



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