In the Middle Ages all life events - miseries and joy, misfortune and luck, health and illness -- differed much more significantly than in present day. Adversity and poverty were more painful and frightening, there was nowhere to find solace. The contrast between sickness and health was more dramatic, darkness and cold in winter were a real scourge.
The difference between summer and winter felt more sharply, as well as between light and darkness, silence and noise.. The riches savored wealth and benefits with greater avarice and eagerness, distancing themselves from howling destitution.
All aspects of life were paraded in an arrogant and rude way. The noblemen and rich merchants moved about in glittering splendor of costumes and valuable weapons, rousing envy and fear. The beggars wailed and demonstrated their deformities on church porches. The lepers wandered in processions twirling their rattles. Marriages, funerals and executions were announced with loud cries, songs and music. Daily life aroused and inflamed the passions producing a sudden explosion of atrocious brutality or pious benignity.
There were not suburbs around a medieval town but surrounding walls with turrets.
However high and massive the stone houses of merchants and nobles might be, the churches majestically reigned over the city.
Jacob Grimmer. View of Kiel, 1578 (Jacob Grimmer (1525-1590) and Abel (1570–1619) were Flemish landscape and genre painters, father and son.)
Bells rang continuously. They were called by name - the bell Roland, the big Jacqueline, - and everyone understood the meaning of various ringing. The processions followed one after another, day after day, for weeks, in evil times as they often were - wars, epidemics, deaths of members of the royal family. In those days people used to fast, and all went barefoot - rich and poor citizens and children. Many carried torches or tapers.
Executions were an important part of the people's life. Often the accused were princes, and then the public had more satisfaction when the justice was done.
Jean de Montaigu, one time royal favorite, wearing a fluffy dress and and boots with gold spurs, was beheaded in Paris and his body was left hanging,
Upon the special order of Louis XI, the head of maitre Oudart de Bussy, who refused a seat in Parliament, was dug up from the grave and displayed in the market square in Hesdin, covered with a red hood, trimmed with fur, according to the fashion in the Parliament.
They were spectacular plays with a moral.