+Thyra Eiriksdottir wanted to do "something" for Jonathan Rankin O'Rose, a fencer from Ruantallan who does a pirate/privateer persona. As with her vendetta against the pineapple, she decided to unleash me on the problem. Because +Thyra Eiriksdottir enables me. :-)
I searched around for interesting letter of marque language and decided that letters of marque were not particularly fun or interesting. Besides, everyone who does a sea-going persona has a letter of marque. What I hit on instead was the writ given by King Henry VII of England to John Cabot and his sons to conduct exploration in North America. John Cabot and his sons eventually "discovered" Newfoundland and, not incidentally, Nova Scotia. What could be more perfect for a Ruantallan seafarer than a license to discover Nova Scotia? Plus, it's a document from Henry VII, which is around the time that His Majesty plays.
Beyond the research that got me to this letter, there wasn't a whole ton of creativity involved. I decided what parts could be deleted without doing harm to the intent of the letter and the rhythm of the schtick. Also, the terms "writ" and "letters patent" have meanings in the SCA, so I had to take those words out where I found them. And, of course, reference to lands "unknown to all Christians" was going to sound awful to modern ears, so out that came.
Here is the resulting "License" issued to Jonathan Rankin O'Rose this weekend, in all of its glory. I read it in Court myself and made sure to play it as schticky fun so that the audience wouldn't doze off. I think it worked -- the recipient was laughing so hard at the end his whole face was scarlet.
By Edward the King. By Thyra the Queen. Greeting: Be it known and made manifest that we have given and granted as by these presents we give and grant, for us and our heirs, to our well beloved Jonathan Rankin O'Rose full and free authority, faculty and power to sail to all parts, regions and coasts of the eastern, western, southern and northern seas, under our banners, flags and ensigns, with five ships or vessels of whatsoever burden and quality they may be, and with so many and such mariners and men as he may wish to take with him in the said ships, to find, discover and investigate whatsoever islands, countries, regions or provinces, in whatsoever part of the world placed, which before this time were unknown to Easterners. We have also granted to him, and have given licence to set up our aforesaid banners and ensigns in any town, city, castle, island or mainland whatsoever, newly found by him.
And that the before-mentioned Jonathan may conquer, occupy and possess whatsoever such towns, castles, cities and islands by him thus discovered as our vassal and governor lieutenant therein, acquiring for us the dominion, title and jurisdiction of the same towns, castles, cities, islands and mainlands so discovered; in such a way nevertheless that of all the fruits, profits, emoluments, commodities, gains and revenues accruing from this voyage, the said Jonathan shall be bound and under obligation for his every voyage, as often as he shall arrive at our port of Ruantallan, at which his is bound and holden only to arrive, all necessary charges and expenses incurred by him having been deducted, to pay to us, either in goods or money, the fifth part of the whole capital gained, we giving and granting to the said Jonathan that he shall be free and exempt from all payment of customs on all and singular the goods and merchandise that he may bring back with them from those places thus newly discovered.
And further we have given and granted to the said Jonathan that all mainlands, islands, towns, cities, castles and other places whatsoever discovered by him, however numerous they may happen to be, may not be frequented or visited by any other subjects of ours whatsoever without the licence of the aforesaid Jonathan, on pain of the loss as well of the ships or vessels daring to sail to these places discovered, as of all goods whatsoever. And we further will and strictly command all and singular our subjects as well by land as by sea that they shall render good assistance to the aforesaid Jonathan, and that they shall give him all their favour and help as well in fitting out the ships or vessels as in buying stores and provisions with their money and in providing the other things which they must take with them on the said voyage.
In witness whereof, we set our signs manual and cause this our grant and charter to be announced in open Court upon 29 November in the forty-ninth year of the Society in our Barony of Ruantallan.