Archiver > QUEBEC-RESEARCH > 2009-06 > 1245708139

From: Mona Andrée Rainville <>
Subject: Re: [Q-R] Translation Please - Filibuster -vs- Pirate
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2009 18:02:19 -0400
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In-Reply-To: <>

Hello Dolly and all,

A "flibustier", which correctly translates to "filibuster" in English,
was not a pirate, at least not according to the laws of his own country,
though his victims might not agree.

This was a ship's captain commissioned by the crown to harass the navy
of an enemy power, or pray on its merchant vessels. This captain would
have received and be in possession of a very important document called a
Lettersof Mark, issued by his King (or Queen in the case of Elizabeth I
of England), sanctioning his attacking and boarding of foreign vessels
in a pirate like manner, for prize. The aim was to thwart the navy and
trade of enemy powers. After a foreign ship was seized by the
filibuster, a not unsubstantial portion of the prize - the booty - would
then go to the crown, and the rest of the loot would be shared between
the ship owner(s), the captain, and his crew, unless the foreign vessel
owners or insurers would agree pay a usually substantial ransom for the
ship's return and the release of the prisonners. There was a formal
venue through which foreign merchants could claim back their ship and
merchandise by paying such a ransom. The rules of this sort of exchange
were long established and had evolved from even before the Middle Ages.
They were among the first written rules of Maritime Law, codified in the
13th century by a woman, Alienor d'Aquitaine, then Queen of England,
former Queen of France, and duchess of Aquitaine. I wrote several
articles about her and her role - quite literally - in the evolution of
Maritime Law.

This legal venue, and the formality of a letter of mark, distinguished
the actions of the filibuster from those of the pirate. In fact, while
piracy was an act punishable by death in most jurisdictions,
filibustering was very much an accepted part of doing business and war.
However, rue the captain who would somehow misplace his letters of
mark. He and his crew would then be considered pirates and dealt with
as such.

The word later came to describe the obstruction process of the
opposition to the adoption of a bill of law in a Parliament.



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