ransom

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ransom,

price of redemption demanded by the captor of a person, vessel, or city. In ancient times cities frequently paid ransom to prevent their plundering by captors. The custom of ransoming was formerly sanctioned by law. Soldiers, given the right to kill or enslave their prisoners, frequently preferred to free them after receiving payment. This mitigated bloodshed, for it was more profitable to hold enemies for ransom than to massacre them. One of the rights of a feudal lord was to call upon his tenants to ransom him if he were captured in battle. The amount of ransom varied with the rank of the captive; a king or a noted warrior brought a great sum. For the payment of the ransom of Richard IRichard I,
 Richard Cœur de Lion
, or Richard Lion-Heart,
1157–99, king of England (1189–99); third son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.
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 (Richard Cœur de Lion) a special tax was levied in England; the French sovereign paid heavy ransoms for Bertrand Du GuesclinDu Guesclin, Bertrand
, c.1320–80, constable of France (1370–80), greatest French soldier of his time. A Breton, he initially served Charles of Blois in the War of the Breton Succession.
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; and Scotland was impoverished in paying for James IJames I,
1394–1437, king of Scotland (1406–37), son and successor of Robert III. King Robert feared for the safety of James because the king's brother, Robert Stuart, 1st duke of Albany, who was virtual ruler of the realm, stood next in line of succession after the
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. Merchant vessels captured in privateeringprivateering,
former usage of war permitting privately owned and operated war vessels (privateers) under commission of a belligerent government to capture enemy shipping.
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 were sometimes ransomed by their owners. After receiving the ransom, the privateer sometimes furnished a ransom bill, which allowed safe conduct for the ship to one of her native ports. Today the term generally refers to the sum paid to a kidnapper for the release of an individual or to an airplane hijacker for the release of passengers, crew, and plane.

Ransom

John Crowe. 1888--1974, US poet and critic
References in classic literature ?
You have brought me neither comfort nor performance; and now you come seeing among Danaans, and saying that Apollo has plagued us because I would not take a ransom for this girl, the daughter of Chryses.
My master,'' answered Baldwin, ``knows how to requite scorn with scorn, and blows with blows, as well as courtesy with courtesy, Since you disdain to accept from him any share of the ransom at which you have rated the arms of the other knights, I must leave his armour and his horse here, being well assured that he will never deign to mount the one nor wear the other.
Why did he put so prominently in his demand for ransom the fact that he had taken two thousand pounds from his victim on the spot?
That demand for ransom was really taken seriously by most of the police.
With the latter in his possession, the ransom which might be obtained for the captive would form no great inducement to her relinquishment in the face of the pleasures of sole ownership of her.
So far, these tools have managed to decrypt more than 28,000 devices, depriving cybercriminals of an estimated eight million in ransoms.
Just five years ago, attackers in Eastern Europe were locking up victims' computers and demanding ransoms of $100 to $400 to unlock them.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who first broke the news of the beheading, said his country will not pay ransoms for the release of its citizens following Ridsdel's gruesome killing.
The United States has pressed European allies not to pay ransoms.
A report from Middle Eastern media that Italy had paid $12 million to free 21-year-old Greta Ramelli and 20-year-old Vanessa Marzullo sparked debate in Italy about financing terrorism through ransoms.
Last year, the group released retired Australian soldier Warren Rodwell and Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani after ransoms were reportedly paid.
DAVID CAMERON has insisted Britain will refuse to pay ransoms to terrorists in return for the release of hostages.