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n order to fully understand an historical period, it is important to know how the social life of the people was organised. Our information on daily life in the late Byzantine period, although fragmentary, is sufficient for us to form a general picture of both town and country life at the time. The most important form of social organisation in the rural areas was the village, while the city developed a certain type according to its economic role.

A comparative analysis of written sources surviving from the period reveals a great deal concerning everyday life as well as the institution of the family. Sources of such information are the biographies of saints and chiefly various Byzantine documents, such as wills, inventories of a person's possessions drawn up after his death, notices of transfer of ownership, and others describing in detail the objects - functional or decorative - in a household. These sources not only provide us with information on the content of a late Byzantine house, but also on the price of each item. The image that thus emerges corresponds to the middle and lower classes and sheds light on the way of life of an average family at the time.

To complement this picture, we might find it interesting to note the elements of everyday life as they are occasionally depicted in icons, manuscripts, or in the frescoes decorating the walls of churches. Usually the objects represented reveal the standard of living of the rich, although often in the provinces we may find scenes or isolated elements reflecting the life and customs of the rural population.