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reprisal


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Originally a period of belligerency which preceded a declaration of war. Where a grievance existed against another country for acts committed, which might not rate a full declaration of war, the aggrieved nation could declare a state of reprisal, and undertake operations short of war until its grievances were settled. It was usually the signal to issue letters of marque. Needless to say, a declaration of reprisal almost invariably drifted into full-scale war.

Subjects: Maritime History.


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