Putting the Bible in the Hands of the People
There was a time when the government/religious authorities (they were one in the same back then) kept the general public from reading the Bible for themselves. But many of the reformers — including the ones prior to the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation — believed that the general public needed the right and privilege of reading the Bible and even owning one.
That led to several translations of the Bible, including a hand-copied one by John Wycliffe, who in the late 1300s was the first person to produce a copy of the complete Bible in English. Many other translations followed over the next several centuries, and in around 1455, a German named Johann Gutenberg developed a printing press that revolutionized printing and allowed for easier dispersal of all printed materials, including the Bible.
In a time when we can often obtain a Bible for free, or at least buy one for a small amount of money, it's hard to imagine a time when people couldn't even afford one. But that was the situation during the Middle Ages, when a Bible cost the equivalent of one year's wages. It was Gutenberg's development of the printing press that began to change that situation.
The first book off Gutenberg's press was a Bible, and it didn't take long for the Scriptures to become available throughout Europe and in all European languages.