Something I read over at The Roving Medievalist brought to mind something I saw on television years ago. What the Roving Medievalist said was something about "those who have a fantasy view of the Middle Ages," and also how Victorian and later illustrators of medieval combat make the whole affair seem clean and elegant, which is just plain wrong. That called to mind a scene from James Burke's Connections series. I couldn't isolate the exact scene, unfortunately, but it starts about two or three minutes into the scene below. He really gets to the guts of the matter between 3:35-3:50.
The Middle Ages, it seems to me, was a time of wonders and a time of horrors. To pretend life then was just one or the other does those people a disservice, and robs us of the lessons we may learn from them. The people who lived during that period survived on faith and hope, and they knew that life was something to be both endured and enjoyed.