Pilgrimages were very popular in the 14th century; they were often undertaken, as here, in groups, party for the sake of society by the way and partly because of the danger of the roads, and it must be admitted that their prevailing spirit was anything but devotional.
One of the most popular shrines was that of Thomas-a-Becket at Canterbury and in April groups of pilgrims could be seen going in that direction. They laughed, talked and told merry tats, just in manner of Chaucer’s pilgrims. His characters are individuals as well as types. Through them Chaucer gives us a realistic picture of men and manners of the England of the times. Thus the very framework of Chaucer’s center bury tales is realistic.