It's hard to know what really was the conditons of the past because when a land was conquered, the winner often destroyed the record of the culture and replaced it with their vision. It's the conqueror that writes the history. An exemple of that is the chronicles of Julius Ceasare about the conquest of the Gaules.
Also, the majority of the customs were passed orally from generation to generation so they weren't writen down. Much was lost when poeple started to forgot them.
And there's a lot of different pasts so to speak. It's because there is different nations, differents civilisations so they didn't have the same values. Even in the same civilisation, the values changes as the time change.
And there was also differences between classes. A woman in the nobility wasn't subject to the same rules as a peasant woman. The same as men.
When we talk of a specific subject, like the role of the women in middle ages, before we start judging it, we have to consider all aspects of that time and it's hard to do it with all the factors I have point out above.
It's too easy to pass a judgment with our own values especially if we have a political agenda.
So with all of that complexities, it's hard not to fall into the trap of romanticize the past.
It best not to go too far down that road because we will never know what it was to llive in a past we didn't live.