It's hard to fathom from a present perspective, but Medieval Europe was insanely more violent and willing to torture than today's Western societies. Consider: Homicide rates were one to two orders of magnitude (~10 to ~100 times) greater back then.[a] There was a proliferation of devices designed to inflict pain and suffering that would make even Dr. Evil blush.[b] Just search for "medieval torture" online to see what I mean.
Steven Pinker has a good summary of the violent nature of Medial Europe in his book, "The Better Angels of Our Nature."[c]
The value of human life was much less back then, so that it was a lot more violent makes sense. But I don't think it is specific to medieval Europe. People happily killed and tortured each other everywhere in the world. Modern western society is an exception, not the norm.
Do you have any evidence backing or consistent with your suspicion?
Hanging was the penalty for dozens of crimes, not just murder. Hanging was public and a slow hang unless you bribed the hangman.
Serious crimes would see you hanged, drawn and quartered -- dragged through the town, hanged almost to unconsciousness, emasculated and gutted (while conscious if the hangman did his job right), then beheaded and chopped into 4 bits. The head and parts usually went on prominent display like at the gates of the city.
Then there's the religious offences, which get ugly. Theft from the church would see you flayed alive (skinned). The skin was sometimes nailed to the church door. Apostasy (rejecting your required religion) might see you slow burned alive -- publicly of course. and so it goes on. Medieval Christians seem like a vengeful lot.
Forgot one: Boiling alive -- the penalty for coin counterfeiting.
But it sure was 100% effective against repeat offenses. Not like for instance the French system where someone can plot a terror attack, get sentenced to 8 years of prison (a shamefully low duration to begin with) and then do it again (possibly one the attacker role this time). In a way death penalty exists, but is reserved to the victims of previous convicts.