Many contemporary historians and schoolbooks portray the Middle Ages as a time of poverty, backwardness, and religious arbitrariness, from which the people were freed only by the Renaissance and later the Industrial Revolution.
On the other hand, there have been a few historians who paint a much different picture and insist that the Middle Ages weren’t as bad as some claim, and that in some ways they were better than most other historical periods.
Women couldn’t even pick their partners
Marriage in medieval times was very different from what we would define as “marriage” today. For one, women didn’t have a choice in terms of who they married and didn’t even know the man before they wed. Simply put, marriage wasn’t based on love and romance back then.
Wives (and women in general) had no rights whatsoever
Even though rape was considered a crime in most parts of medieval Europe, the particular laws governing sex were different when you were married. A wife could not legally refuse her husband’s sexual demands, but a husband couldn’t refuse his wife’s advances either. The popular belief was that women were always longing for sex, and that it was bad for their health not to have intercourse regularly. To make a long story short, women were seen (and used) as strictly for the purposes of sex, bearing and raising children, cooking and cleaning.
They calculated time in a very strange way
In the early Middle Ages, Europeans told time in a way that would seem very strange to us. They divided the day into seven hours of equal length. Because summer days are longer than winter ones, a winter hour was about sixty minutes, but a summer one was about 150 minutes.
The penitentiary system was literally barbaric
The penitentiary system of the age wasn’t as civilized and humane as the one today in most parts of the West. If you ended up losing your freedom, hell was waiting for you. Jails were first dungeons in castles or castle towers such as the Tower of London. A prisoner wasn’t fed and didn’t get water every day and of course there wasn’t any social activities or sunshine. Most prisoners were in irons in their cells to prevent escape attempts and many of them either died from starvation or disease.
There was no pavement to walk on
In most medieval big cities and more specifically London, there was no pavement and people had to walk on bare earth. For the record, it wasn’t just bare earth that people had to walk on, as most of the ground was covered with excrement, as well as animal entrails and rotting food.