Cinque Ports, a group of 30 English ports and towns that were chartered in the Middle Ages to furnish men and ships for coastal defense. Originally there were five (cinque, in French) such ports—Hastings, Romney, Hythe, Dover, and Sandwich. After a national navy was established in the 16th century, special privileges that had been granted to the Cinque Ports, including exemption from certain taxes, were gradually withdrawn. Today the office of lord warden of the Cinque Ports is honorary, and Dover is the only one of them still important as a port.