The Canterbury Tales Questions and Answers
by Geoffrey Chaucer

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What is the reason for the pilgrimage to Canterbury in The Canterbury Tales?

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In the medieval world, pilgrimages were a very important part of religious life. People of all classes would regularly travel to shrines throughout Christendom, where they would often seek cures for various ailments. Medical knowledge was rather primitive in those days, and many people believed that touching holy relics would cure them of all manner of diseases.

In the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales , we're told that the pilgrims are heading off to Canterbury Cathedral to visit the shrine of the "holy, blissful martyr" St. Thomas a Becket, murdered by King Henry II's knights in 1170. St. Thomas's relics were believed by Christians across Europe to have the power to heal sickness and disease. St. Thomas was also someone people prayed to when they...

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