A chirograph is a medieval document, which has been written in duplicate, triplicate or very occasionally quadruplicate on a single piece of parchment, where the Latin word "chirographum" (or equivalent) has been written across the middle, and then cut through. By this means both parties to an agreement could possess a copy of its written record, and each copy could be verified as genuine through introduction to, and comparison with, the other. The cut itself would often be made to produce a wavy or serrated edge, to reduce the possibility of forgery. This practice gave rise to the document description "indenture", since these edges would be said to be "indented". The earliest surviving portion of a chirograph in England dates from the middle of the ninth century.
A recent example of a chirograph is that issued by Pope Francis, announced on June 26, 2013, that was established to investigate the activities of the Institute for the Works of Religion (the so-called "Vatican Bank"). The document was "an instrument under canon law giving the commission legal force. According to the text, the broad aim of the commission is to help ensure that 'the principles of the Gospel also permeate activities of an economic and financial nature.'"
- Lowe, Kathryn A. (1997). 'Lay Literacy in Anglo-Saxon England: the Development of the Chirograph' in Anglo Saxon Manuscripts and their Heritage, ed. by P. Pulsiano and E. Treharne (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1997), pp. 161–204.
- Pollard, John F. (2005). Money and the Rise of the Modern Papacy: Financing the Vatican, 1850–1950. Cambridge University Press.
- See Brown, M.P., A Guide To Western Historical Scripts From Antiquity to 1600, British Library, 1990, pp. 78-9.
- Lowe, K.A., 'Lay Literacy in Anglo-Saxon England: the Development of the Chirograph' in Anglo Saxon Manuscripts and their Heritage, ed. by P. Pulsiano and E. Treharne (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1997), pp. 161–204.
- Pollard, p. xvi.
- Chirographs, Indentures and Final Concords Medieval Writing. Retrieved on August 7 2008.
- Vatican page on Chirographs
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