ack of detailed information about the city's economic and social structure in the sources from the period we are interested in - the start of the 10th century to the end of the 14th century approximately - means that, in order to study them we have to take various elements and pieces of evidence in combination.

We can get some idea of the way the population of Kastoria, the Byzantine city, was structured socioeconomically by considering: its natural environment and climate (stable factors during these centuries); our knowledge of the general economic circumstances in the region; and the evidence of history and the monuments. We have for any given period most information at our disposal, of course, about the upper social class - church dignitaries and members of the local nobility.

It should lastly be noted that all these individual pieces of information combine like pieces of some mosaic to give us our final overall picture of Byzantine Kastoria. They reveal how urban life evolved and developed from the mid-10th through to the 12th century. In the course of this period urban life was truly thriving, as Constantinople became Kastoria's hub and centre of communication. It is this, most probably, that accounts for the city's flowering of culture.

In the Late Byzantine era, the city shared the fate of the shrinking Byzantine state. It achieved a degree of independence, and showed signs of economic and cultural vitality in difficult circumstances. Its contacts were mainly cut back to the broader west Macedonia region; its relations with the West continued.

See also: Geographical location and natural environment