Just argh! I'm so tired of hearing people disparage medieval life as "smelly, cold, dirty and uncomfortable." Look, when you embrace a time period, you accept it. You don't stand over it with your contemporary mindset and tick your head saying, "What a tragic era. Such inequality. Such violence and ignorance."
I say, get over yourselves! Medieval life was what it was. They thought what they thought and they did what they did based on centuries of experiences and society with like-minded communities. They tried to make it less smelly. They wore layers to keep away the cold that they were perfectly aware of, they kept things as clean as they could, believe me, and as far as uncomfortable? By whose standards?
I read this article in The Guardian (I know, my own fault) which starts out with this diatribe: "Domestic life in the past was smelly, cold, dirty and uncomfortable, but we have much to learn from it." And then the writer has the nerve to start telling us that all this stuff was great! What? Okay, yes, it's a good point that smaller windows and shutters help with energy efficiency in the home. All these are "duh!" moments but don't start off by knocking what you are praising.
Medieval life was full of rules and laws designed for tight knit communities to live in relative harmony with one another. The mindset was communal and anyone going outside those bounds was going to get into trouble. I really doubt any women were sitting around lamenting their place in society. And if you look a few blogs back (Social Mobility) you'll see that the supposed inequities that plagued the era were mere Victorian fantasies to hide behind their own inequities.
Looking at the era with fresh eyes, I can't say that there is anything I abhor about it. Even the superstitions and treatment of the Jews. This was their timeframe given their education and rules of society. You can't judge any of it with contemporary eyes. There were people of that era that spoke out against these inequities and put their lives on the line for it. Even their hospital systems were better. They never checked to see if you had insurance and could pay for your care. What I abhor is this "modern" era we live in where there is no excuse for prejudice or superstition and yet we still harbor them. Tell me why in 2011 that every newspaper still has a horoscope for "entertainment" purposes?
And let the record show, that "Elizabethan" is NOT medieval. Just so you know. Article is here but why bother?