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Page 59

CHAPTER III
FOURTEENTH CENTURY - CHAUCER'S CENTURY

Many churchmen honestly believed that it was wrong to give the Bible to those who were not scholars, lest they should not understand it aright ; and even more were either shocked or angry at Wyclif's daring to criticize the teachings of the church and the lives of the clergy. Persecution arose against the preacher and his followers. He was protected by powerful friends ; but, forty-four years after his death, his grave was opened, his bones burned, and the ashes tossed scornfully into the river Swift. It was easier, however, for his opponents to fling away his ashes than to destroy his influence upon the people and upon the language. His Bible was in manuscript, of course, because printing had not yet been invented ; but it was read and re-read by thousands, and the

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