In medieval times, as in most times and places throughout human history, the basic unit of human society was the family – by which I mean the extended family (in extreme form the tribe or clan). The simple reason for this is that we reproduce in pairs. Furthermore, the best way for children to be socialized and educated is in the context of loving family relationships.
In recent years the traditional ideal of the family and the bonds that hold it together have been systematically attacked and weakened, but the destruction of the family is far from an essential ingredient in our notion of progress. The demolition of this tradition is more likely to be the cause of widespread social degradation and cultural devastation. No doubt there are ways the family can be improved, and ways in which family members can be more adequately protected from abuse, but the family itself is the seed-bed and crucible of civil society, and the best safeguard of human dignity.