Unlike piracy, whose goals were purely personal plunder and profit, privateering was a form of war authorized by individual states. They made up for the limited number of permanent naval forces in this way. Introduced in the 17th century, this sailing practice continued, with different methods, until the last World War. Conducted, in general by private people against the enemy merchant marine privateering was most widespread during the American War of Independence, the Napoleonic campaigns and the American Civil war. Towards the end of the 18th Century, pirate ships were generally small and fast mercantile sailing ships, similar to the naval corvettes or frigates used during the war, often owned by their commanders. The majority with small sails and weapons, and unlike pirate ships carried the national banner.
Particularly representative of this class of sailing ship was the corvette Tonnant, a French pirate ship of the end of the 18th century. As often happens for the smaller fleets, fragmentary historical data does not allow us to sketch out its complete working profile. However in 1790, the Tonnant left Brest, fought against the British ship Boyne in the middle of the Atlantic. A few years later at the beginning 1797 the Tonnant backed up the French fleet in anticipation of an unsuccessful landing in the bay of Bantry, on the southwest coast of Ireland.
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