...No Matter When They Are.
It's a twist on the Dr. Seuss line (from Horton Hears a Who) A person's a person, no matter how small!
Dr. Seuss was trying to tell us that everyone deserves a chance to be heard, and chance to have the rights that his brothers have... because we're all people. Similarly, "People are people no matter where they are" reminds us that all over the world, right now, there are human beings just like us going through the same struggles and joys and mundane activities... and we need to remember that. We need to remember that the old man lying in his hospital bed could be us one day, or the mother of four struggling to feed her children in another country could have been us, but for an accident of birth. Remembering this will help us connect with our fellow human beings, and realize that our shared experience--the experience of being alive on this planet--is what binds us.
People are People, No Matter When They Are.
Likewise, if we remember that the old man and the mother of four who lived six hundred years ago were human beings as well, we will understand that we share the human experience with them as well. And that is--in my opinion--the heart of social history. We might not know that old man's importance, or that mother's name, but we know they existed. Of course, not knowing their names or deeds makes it difficult to study and understand those two humans specifically... so we study the world they lived in. What did they eat? How did they survive? What were the buildings/skills/religious beliefs/habits of the time? We might not know anything about that specific mother, but we can extrapolate her story based on our knowledge of her world.
Historical fiction allows us to create that story.
And, I might be biased here, but I'm pretty sure that historical romance is the best kind of historical fiction. ;) Here we get to create a world, a life, a story, and know that it will end happily. The real world--especially historically--doesn't always have its Happily Ever Afters, but in our stories, we know that the characters will live long, healthy, and happy lives together. And the heart of writing good historical fiction is remembering that--yep, you guessed it--People are People, No Matter When They Are. That character might have a different life experience than I have had, and different beliefs, different supports, different goals. But I can bring her to life, I can make her real, by knowing as much as possible about her world. She's a person, and I share that with her. I can extrapolate the rest. :)
Historical Romance is