Many times, Protestants accuse the Catholic Church of not allowing the faithful to read the Bible. We know this is not so, and have shown that in this post here.
Many times, to "prove" their point, they will ask us: "Is it not true that the Church chained Bibles in the Middle Ages?"
Yes, the Church did chain Bibles in the Middle Ages, but not to prevent the faithful from reading the Bible. They were chained in order to prevent people from stealing them.
Remember, during the Middle Ages there was no such thing as a printing press. All books, including the Bible had to be painstakingly copied by hand by monks all over Europe. It would require years, perhaps the lifetime of one monk to copy each and every word contained in the Bible.
Also keep in mind that each Bible was made on vellum, which is sheep hide. It took 250 sheep and thousands of man hours just to create one Bible
Because of this long, hard work, this made the Bible and other books very expensive, and rare. Its is estimated that the cost of one Bible during the Middle Ages would be equivalent to thousands of dollars today. One source even says that it would be equal to $100,000 today.
The average man and woman of the time we call the Middle Ages, could not afford to own a Bible or any other books. For that matter, the average man and woman of the Middle Ages was for the most part illiterate and could not have read the Bible, even if he or she wanted to. This is also one of the reasons that stained glass and art was used so extensively in parishes of the day. The stained glass and art told the Bible stories to the faithful.
It wasn't until 1436 that Johann Gutenberg invented his printing press. So, before the invention of the printing press, the thought of everyone owning a Bible was an unrealistic idea.
Records exist that show there were 5,000 chained books in 11 Protestant and 2 Catholic libraries. So the Reformers also chained their Bibles for at least 300 years, showing that the Catholic Church was not alone in chaining Bibles.
Bibles were chained because they were expensive, and could not be easily replaced if stolen. Not to prevent anyone from reading the Word of God as is so mistakenly believed by many who don't know, or choose to ignore history and it's facts.