1 o Conclusion The prevailing theories about the nature of the social order which all medieval thinkers and preachers put forward were in one way realistic, in another quite unrealistic. These theories were realistic in that they recognized the fact of social stratification. No attempt was made to disguise the fact that there was a ruling class which possessed the means of coercion and which depended for its existence on the labours of the classes it ruled, primarily the peasants. It also recognized that a group of intermediaries between man and God, the priests, the prayers, was an essential part of the social fabric and that this group not only mediated between the seen and the unseen worlds, but legitimized the seen social order in terms of its reflection of the unseen order beyond. The theory was unrealistic because it did not allow for social mobility and was uneasy about accepting new social groups which emerged owing to the increasing complexity of the economy. It assumed that certain forms of social behaviour were sinful deviations rather than essential class characteristics, such as peasant acquisitiveness or seigneurial pride in domination. It assumed too that social conflict occurred only because of sinful departure, usually (though not invariably) by the ruled, from obedience in their allotted tasks, rather than because conflict over the distribution of the social product was inevitably built into the landlord-tenant system.