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Not to be confused with Parlay.
For the English village, see West Parley.

Parley /ˈpɑːrli/ is a discussion or conference, especially one between enemies over terms of a truce or other matters. For example, in Julius Caesar (a tragedy by William Shakespeare), the respective followers and armies of Brutus and Antony are ready for a truce. The root of the word parley is parler, which is the French verb "to speak"; specifically the conjugation parlez "you speak", whether as imperative or indicative. Beginning in the High Middle Ages with the expansion of monarchs, a parley, or "talk", was a meeting held between kings and their Chief Retainers. Parleys were part of the many changes in Europe, especially regarding governments. These meetings can be attributed to the formation of parliaments, which are derived from a similar root, parliamentum, simply meaning "talking".

The internationally recognized symbol for offering parley is a black flag, particularly in the context of shipping. For example, a ship at war wishing to enter parley with its attackers may raise a black flag to indicate this.[1]


  1. ^ The Times newspaper, London, 27 May 2011