Medieval people were well aware that they lived in a society in which wealth and status was distributed unequally. The 'Three Orders' was a medieval intellectual's scheme for understanding God's purpose in society, but it certainly appealed to lay people too. The fact that the 'Three Orders' model was used by servants of the powerful West Saxon monarchy in England shows quite clearly that it could be used in circumstances when royal power was effective as much as when royal power was ineffective. The existence of magnates is an undeniable fact of medieval social structure. Whatever the ideology of descent and honour used to justify their social hegemony, the essentials of it were materialistic. The social consequence of the existence of magnates had subtle but widespread effects on the society in which they lived. The idea of a special level of magnate knighthood grew up simultaneously in France and England.