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Middle Ages: “The Darkness of History”

Let us start by saying that it is evident that world history is dynamic, it has been constantly developing and changing. I would like to mention that the Middle Ages, one of historical epochs of humanity, is unique and it has a lot of debatable features and peculiarities that have been arousing scientists’ interest for many decades on end. Now our task is to compare the life in medieval city and living on the land.

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The first question under consideration is as follows: would anyone like to live in a Medieval city? As far as my opinion is concerned, I would never like to live there. A number of reasons may be given to prove my point of view.

One of the reasons is that the Middle Ages are called “The Darkness of History”. It means that on the whole it was a sullen, primitive and depressing period.

People were ignorant and illiterate and they were not considered to be personalities with their own rights and freedoms. God was in the center of the world and people were just like grains of sand, they were of minor importance. Their personal feelings and ambitions were ignored and stifled.

Moreover, the epoch of the Middle Ages has a lot of terrible peculiarities, such as Holy Inquisition, crusades, rebellions, etc. A graphic evidence of the difficulty of the life of medieval people is given by Derek Hall. He states the limits of lifespan of those people: “The average lifespan in medieval times has been estimated to be 35 years for males and 31 years for females” (Hall 30). I do not know, if it is possible to find a person who would like to experience all those things and to be in the shoes of a medieval man.

Still, let us imagine that we are medieval people. In that case the question is as follows: what place is better for living: a town or a village?

I believe, I would have liked to live in a Medieval town or city. This choice has a lot of reasons. For instance, during the High Middle Ages the growth of cities was observed. The life there was evidently far more comfortable than in villages. A number of Universities appeared there, so people got the opportunity to become literate, though the initial quality of the process of study leaved much to be desired, but we know that it was greatly improved during the epoch of Renaissance.

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The growth and development of trade and commerce could be observed in the cities. As a consequence, general level of life grew; town dwellers led a prosperous, stable and rather wealthy life. It can be proved by the following words of Shulamith Shahar about a Medieval town:

Peace was essential to its development and its economic activity, which was based on artisanship, commerce and money affairs. It evolved its own ethos, which differed from that of the feudal nobility. Though urban society was a class society from the outset, it abolished the distinctions between freemen and serfs and, legally speaking (in contrast to rural areas), all townspeople were free (Shahar 174).

In contrast, the life of people in villages was rater hard. Peasants were still illiterate, but, nevertheless, they tried at all costs to defend their ancient traditions and to get at least some social and judicial status. All those attempts usually ended in armed revolts.

To draw a conclusion, I would like to mention once again that city dwellers in the Middle Ages we far more lucky and led a happy life in comparison with peasants.

Works Cited

Hall, Derek. Burgess, Merchant, and Priest: Burgh Life in the Scottish Medieval Town. Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2002.

Shahar, Shulamith. The Fourth Estate: A History of Women in the Middle Ages. New York: Routledge, 2003.

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