Most of the world was agrarian, with the vast majority of its population engaged in farming and residing in rural areas, prior to the introduction of the Industrial Revolution. Most things were made by hand in small workshops or in people’s homes because there were no large factories or machines to mass-produce them.
As a result, businesses could only sell and buy on a regional scale, and cross-country shipping was a costly and time-consuming proposition. People clustered together in small towns and relied heavily on their social networks.
Wealthy landowners, known as lords, ruled over the land and the peasants who worked it. As a result of this system, everyone was effectively born into their social class, with no chance of moving up the ranks.
Most people had a tough time of it due to a lack of opportunities and resources (such as schools, hospitals, and food and water supplies). Many people died at an early age due to the widespread spread of disease.
Generally speaking, most people before the Industrial Revolution were poor and had a hard time making ends meet due to a lack of technological advancement and general economic stagnation.