It would sometimes seem as if this period had been particularly unhappy, as if it had left behind only the memory of violence, of covetousness, and mortal hatred—as if it had known no other enjoyment but that of intemperance, of pride, and of cruelty. Now, in the records of all periods misfortune has left more traces than happiness. Great evils form the groundwork of history. We are perhaps inclined to assume, without much evidence that, roughly speaking, and notwithstanding all calamities, the sum of happiness can have hardly changed from one period to another. But in the 15th century, as in the epoch of Romanticism it was, so to say, bad form to praise the world and life openly. It was fashionable to see only its suffering and misery; to discover everywhere signs of decadence and of a near end—in short, to condemn the times, or to despise them.
—Johan Huizinga, The Waning of the Middle Ages